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Congress passes animal terrorism bill

Legislation gives additional legal protection to scientists and companies that provide services and support for animal research

By | November 16, 2006

At the start of its post-election "lame duck" session, the US House of Representatives has passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (S 3880), a bill that expands protection for scientists by outlawing economic damage against "animal enterprises," including organizations involved in academic and commercial research and testing. President Bush is expected to sign the bill soon. The House adopted by voice vote on Monday the legislation that the Senate passed by unanimous consent in September. The measure provides a graduated scale of prison time and fines for people found guilty of harassing, intimidating, trespassing against or vandalizing the property of anyone associated with animal research. The bill also affords protection to so-called "tertiary" targets: third-parties such as customers, bankers, accountants, insurance providers, and other service providers, who have been targeted by militant animal rights activists in the US and UK. "It's terrific," said Frankie Trull, president of the National Association for Biomedical Research, which supports responsible use of animals in research. "This bill was desperately needed because a number of researchers have been under significant attack. The original law needed to be updated and improved," she told The Scientist. The original law, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, was passed in 1992 and expanded in 2002 to equate acts of harassment and intimidation with terrorism. The first prosecution came in September, when a federal judge sentenced six animal rights activists associated with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA Inc. (SHAC-USA) to up to six years in prison for crimes against employees and officers of Huntingdon Life Sciences in East Millstone, NJ. Between January 1990 and June 2004 SHAC, the Animal Liberation Front, and other extremists committed more than 1,100 acts of terrorism, causing more than $120 million in damage, said Rep. John Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) during debate on the House floor. Current federal law "is inadequate to address the threats and violence committed by animal rights extremists," he said. The new bill makes it a crime to trespass, harass, vandalize, or otherwise threaten anyone associated with an animal enterprise, including scientists and their families. Similar legislation was enacted in England last year. To address First Amendment concerns, the new bill specifically permits peaceful picketing, demonstrations, and "lawful boycotts" against animal enterprises. "This bill does not satisfy everyone, but it does represent a reasonable compromise," said Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va). Ted Agres tagres@the-scientist.com Links within this article: "Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act" (S 3880) http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:S.3880: T. Agres, "Science bills head to lame duck session," The Scientist, Nov. 9, 2006 http://www.thescientist.com/news/display/35591/ National Association for Biomedical Research http://www.nabr.org Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/legislat/pl102346.htm T. Agres, "Animal activists sentenced," The Scientist, Sept. 13, 2006 http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/24741/ Animal Liberation Front http://www.animalliberationfront.com T. Agres, "Fighting back against terror," The Scientist, Sept.12, 2005 http://www.thescientist.com/article/display/15719
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Comments

Avatar of: Mark

Mark

Posts: 2

November 16, 2006

I am for protests but when they cause damage and set back years of work. I don't that is protected Speech.\n\nI wonder how the feel I came into their place of work and harress them and destory work places.\n\nOr bother their neighbors telling them lies about them.\n\nIs that Free Speech.\n\nI don't think so.
Avatar of: Marta Zilberts

Marta Zilberts

Posts: 1

November 16, 2006

Does anyone care to acknowledge the terror a cat, dog or guinea pig experiences as some researcher blasts the equivelent of oven cleaner into it's respiratory system and observes it's painful death convulsions ? I'm labled as a terrorist for thinking this cruel practise should be banned and regulated ?

November 16, 2006

Finally, a story that gets it right. Apparently many reporters have not actually read the bill language but have accepted without question the misleading propaganda that HSUS and other animal activist groups have perpetuated about its First Amendment protections. Knowing full well that the preeminent civil rights organization, the ACLU did not oppose the AETA, they continued to lobby against the bill and rally their followers to do the same, actions that discredit their own cause.
Avatar of: holyal

holyal

Posts: 1

November 16, 2006

Of course, the writer is being very disingenous in arguing - nay, relaying without really engaging - that SHAC and others "committed more than 1,100 acts of terrorism, causing more than $120 million in damage". If animal activists had committed that number of genuine 'terrorist' acts, they would leave in their wake the IRA, ETA, Hamas, Tupac Amaru, the Tamil Tigers, even that most feared bunch of villians, the CIA, etc etc, COMBINED, in terms of scope and scale. \n\nNo mean feat for a handful of vegan bunny huggers. \n\nIf our author sought to elucidate these 'terrorist acts' the claim would be seen for the nonsense it is. We get to this absurd position because it is convenient - not politically logical - to refer to animal actvists as 'terrorists'. That being so, everything that is subsequently done in the name of animal rights that violates the law becomes defined, by those in power, as a terrorist act. At most, there are one or two acts that - straining credibility as far as it goes - could be thought of as 'terrorism'. A larger number of these "1100" acts are petty criminality: paint over cars, etc. But the bulk of these so called 'terrorist acts' were non events - not so much 'terrorism' as a few radicals grunting and groaning. If I am doubted, why doesn't the scientist list, from 01 -1100, all of the so called 'terrorist' acts? Let the reader judge. \n\nNo one denies that crimes have been committed. No one denies that the scientist obviously has a vested interest in the status quo and therefore sees animal activists as the 'enemy'. Nonetheless, you have brains so use them. This US bill is clearly, patently, about preventing any protest. Consult the Lawyer Guide's condemnation of the bill for this. \n\nTerrorism is the standard pretext. Freedom of association, of thought and speech, is the usual victim. The Scientist should put its self interest to one side and see a spade for a spade.
Avatar of: hoyla

hoyla

Posts: 2

November 16, 2006

A commentator writes: "I am for protests but when they cause damage and set back years of work. I don't that is protected Speech. I wonder how the feel I came into their place of work and harress them and destory work places. Or bother their neighbors telling them lies about them."\n\nYou argue that it is not protected speech. That might be so. But is an office invasion, a few lies, etc, therefore terrorism: on a par with crashing planes into towers and blowing up babies?\n\nObviously if laws are broken the legal system should kick into work. If animal activists break the law, they should be punished. But by laws in ready in place - not by vindictive, big business encouraged 'special' laws. But does it therefore follow that someone who breaks into a farm and frees one or two chickens is deserving of the same punishment that someone who blows up a building killing babies? According to this bill, it does. \n\nPeople should oppose this as another nail in the cofffin of US democracy. First they came for the communists, and you didn't say anothing because you are not a communist. Then they came for the animal lovers, and you didnt say anything, because you are not an animal lover. Then they come for you.
Avatar of: hoyla

hoyla

Posts: 2

November 16, 2006

A commentator writes: "I am for protests but when they cause damage and set back years of work. I don't that is protected Speech. I wonder how the feel I came into their place of work and harress them and destory work places. Or bother their neighbors telling them lies about them."\n\nYou argue that it is not protected speech. That might be so. But is an office invasion, a few lies, etc, therefore terrorism: on a par with crashing planes into towers and blowing up babies?\n\nObviously if laws are broken the legal system should kick into work. If animal activists break the law, they should be punished. But by laws in ready in place - not by vindictive, big business encouraged 'special' laws. But does it therefore follow that someone who breaks into a farm and frees one or two chickens is deserving of the same punishment that someone who blows up a building killing babies? According to this bill, it does. \n\nPeople should oppose this as another nail in the cofffin of US democracy. First they came for the communists, and you didn't say anothing because you are not a communist. Then they came for the animal lovers, and you didnt say anything, because you are not an animal lover. Then they come for you.
Avatar of: Rhetta

Rhetta

Posts: 1

November 19, 2006

I probably should not comment until I have read the full legislation you are referring to...however, from a layman's standpoint, I am opposed to individuals bombing, killing, and/or maiming individuals in order to let their message be known.\n\nWaging war on innocent individuals is wrong. And doesn't it defeat the point? You are trying to protect innocent animals so why is it okay then to hurt innocent people?

November 21, 2006

Animal Legistration by Rhetta wrote:\n\n"Waging war on innocent individuals is wrong. And doesn't it defeat the point? You are trying to protect innocent animals so why is it okay then to hurt innocent people?"\n\nAgree completely. But the people being targeted are not innocent, as are the animals they abuse, torture and murder (Huntingdon Life Sciences alone kills 500 animals everyday testing everything from pesticides to oven cleaner to pharmaceuticals). Those being targeted are those who perpetrate or enable the atrocities against animals, and they deserve far worse than they have received thus far.\n\n
Avatar of: dave

dave

Posts: 1

November 22, 2006

Rhetta also writes:\n\n"I am opposed to individuals bombing, killing, and/or maiming individuals in order to let their message be known. "\n\nFirstly, this is specious - animal activists have never maimed, killed anyone in the US. \n\nSecondly, there are already laws opposed to murder, etc. There isn't a 'loophole' in the law that allows animal activists to go around killing whoever they like that we need new legislation to fix. \n\nAETA is about penalising civil disobedience. For instance, it redefines undercover activists - say, someone breaking into a factory farm and taking photos - as a 'terrorist'. Why? Becuase it harms coporate profit.\n\nThe Scientist won't bother to tell you this, but the people who wrote and pushed AETA were working on behalf of the animal exploitation industries. It's not about protecting the life of individuals - there never being any risk - but attempting to quash a powerful social movement. \n\nIt's undemocratic to single out a particular social movement for harsh treatment just becuase it is successful. If activists break the law, throw the book at them - I don't care. But they should get the same justice, and have the same legal rights, as any other criminals - not be reclassified as 'terrorists'.\n\nIn the UK, there are hoodlums doing far worse than animal activists daily - smashing up the cars of pensioners, putting brinks through windows. But becuase it is against YOU and ME, the perpetrators won't get a slap on the wrist from the police. Yet, if an animal activist even takes a photo in Oxford uni they can be arrested under the Serious Organised Crime Act (i'm not joking). \n\nIf you believe in democracy, you believe in democracy for all. \n\nYou can see blogs like greenisthenewred for a more substantive discussion of AETA than the Scientist offers.
Avatar of: C Marie

C Marie

Posts: 1

December 4, 2006

You are all probably right. This could be viewed as a knee-jerk reaction to a very frustrating situation. What do you "bunny-huggers" propose we do to those who think it is all right to vandalize the cars, homes, and work-places of those only trying to help others? Apparently the laws now in place aren't much of a deterent if people keep breaking them in record numbers.\nWhat if all the "bunny-huggers" were made to live in a place that had all of the tecnology made possible due to animal research removed from it? And any new technology (i.e., cures for AIDS or Cancer or Diabetes) was not made available to them or their off-spring? Would that be a more fair punishment for those caught committing the "more than 1,100 acts of terrorism and causing more than $120 million in damage?"
Avatar of: Jared

Jared

Posts: 1

December 8, 2006

In response to: "What if all the "bunny-huggers" were made to live in a place that had all of the tecnology made possible due to animal research removed from it? And any new technology (i.e., cures for AIDS or Cancer or Diabetes) was not made available to them or their off-spring? Would that be a more fair punishment for those caught committing the "more than 1,100 acts of terrorism and causing more than $120 million in damage?"\n\nThis is silly. Firstly, it is pretty common knowledge that most vegans are much much healthier than non-vegans, and therefore would not need a majority of your "technology" that comes from the suffering of other living things.\n\nThe appropriate punishment for someone who threatens an animal scientist is the same as the punishment for someone who threatens the mail man, or the guy at the liquor store. What is so special about the animal research "industry" that anyone even remotely involved gets special protections? Should I, as an employee of a retail store be able to force new liegislation to protect me from harassment and so-called "terrorism"? No, of course not; and people involved with animal research shouldn't be either.

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