New Updates on Michigan Grand Juries Targeting Environmental Activists

A new magazine published by Earth Warriors are OK! has updates on recent green scare investigations of environmental activists in Michigan. An excerpt from the magazine:

“Although “Green Scare” refers to a round of indictments that came down more than two years ago now, evidence suggests that was only the beginning. The Twin Cities Eco-Prisoner Support Committee believes that the next years will see more indictments stemming from continued investigations into ELF actions not encompassed by the first round–many of those occurred in the Midwestern United States, and court documents from some of the original Green Scare trials mention specifically some of those actions and people alleged to have been involved.

MINNESOTA

For more than two years here in Minneapolis, we’ve been hearing about Green Scare-related visits by our friendly local Joint Terrorism Task Force in which specific individuals, ELF and ALF actions are referenced. In fall of 2007, two individuals were subpoenaed to a grand jury- they refused to cooperate, and their depositions were canceled. Since then, we’ve confirmed that there is, indeed, an 18-month grand jury active in Minneapolis, which we believe to have begun no later than summer of 2007.

MICHIGAN

In the early months of 2008, indictments on numerous counts of arson and conspiracy were handed down to four individuals–Marie Mason, Stephanie Lynne Fultz, Aren Burthwick, and government informant Frank Ambrose–for ELF actions throughout Michigan. A fifth person, Jesse Waters, is expected to be indicted soon in relation to the same actions. Other indictments of an unknown nature, stemming from the same Grand Jury, are expected to be unsealed soon. Marie Mason is currently out, but isolated and restricted to the Western District of Michigan on $75,000, unsecured bond. Her trial date, which will probably be postponed, is currently set for May 27, 2008. At this time, the offer of support has been extended several times to both Stephanie and Aren, though neither seems to have accepted. Nonetheless, we have no reason to believe that either of them is cooperating. Likewise, Jesse Waters, who has an NLG lawyer and is aware of potential indictments, is not cooperating. Currently, there is an active grand jury convened in Grand Rapids, MI–it is likely that this grand jury will produce new indictments against unknown individuals and possibly hand down superseding indictments of previously indicted people. For updates on Marie’s situation, see her support site:

http://www.freemarie.org

GOVERNMENT INFORMANTS

The following two individuals are cooperating with the government in ELF investigations and the prosecution of their comrades. Beware of these known snitches–they are NOT TO BE TRUSTED under any circumstances, and they present a great danger to any spaces or communities they are in. We do not and will not ever support individuals who cooperate with the State, as our movement simply cannot afford to do so.

Ian Wallace

Born and raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Ian Wallace was active with Big Woods Earth First! and the Live Wild Or Die collective in Minneapolis from 1999-2002. During this time he was involved in many civil disobedience actions against Home Depot. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in physical anthropology at Stony Brook University in upstate New York. During Daniel McGowan’s June 2007 sentencing, it was stated in open court by Daniel’s prosecutor that Ian Wallace is cooperating with an ongoing investigation into Midwest ELF actions. We have confirmed this information with numerous trusted sources since the original report was released, and have no doubts as to its veracity. We will post any updates to:

http://www.midwestgreenscare.org

Frank Ambrose

Frank Ambrose, recently indicted on arson and conspiracy counts in Michigan, has accepted a plea bargain that involves full cooperation with the government. He has admitted his involvement in numerous additional ELF actions throughout the Midwest, and has provided names of many activists to the government. Frank Ambrose is said to have been traveling around the country–both to an EF! gathering in Florida (he offered and paid for the airfare of other people to this gathering) and to the West Coast–following the April 10th, 2007 raid on his residence. He is suspected to have begun cooperating with the FBI shortly after that raid, and has produced countless audio tapes for the government, including recordings of a large portion of the 2008 EF! Organizers’ Conference in Florida. For detailed evidence of Frank Ambrose’s cooperation, go to the North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network’s page about him:

http://www.ecoprisoners.org/ambrose.htm

The full magazine contains a wealth of information about repression directed at the radical environmental movement.

Background on the Green Scare Campaign against Activists

Over the weekend, activists in over thirty cities held benefits for “Green Scare” victim Marie Mason, who has recently been indicted for arsons claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in Michigan in late 1999 and early 2000.

Mason’s arrest was part of what many have dubbed “the Green Scare“–a coordinated government campaign aimed at silencing the radical animal rights and radical environmental movement. Journalist Will Potter has been writing about this government and corporate scare campaign since the late 1990s, and at a recent talk, he gave an excellent overview of the green scare and what it means for activists. The talk is viewable below:

Solidarity is a Weapon: A Green Scare Prisoner Benefit

The Bloom Collective, an infoshop and lending library located in Grand Rapids, is hosting a benefit on June 7 for prisoners targeted by the government as part of the Green Scare:

Solidarity is a Weapon: A Green Scare Prisoner Benefit

On June 7, people from all over North America will gather together to discuss the threat against the radical environmental moveMENT, the Green Scare cases and what they mean, and to question how we can prevent impending ecological collapse.

This discussion will occur via an interactive webcast featuring critically acclaimed author Derrick Jensen and indicted environmental activist Marie Mason.

Come learn about radical environmentalism, government repression, and solidarity…

The Q&A will be an interactive experience where people from all over will be able to email questions to Derrick and Marie and a webcast discussion around those questions with Derrik will ensue.

Derrick Jensen is a ground-breaking and critically-acclaimed author speaking on civilization, violence, and resistance to ecological collapse. Check out http://www.derrickjensen.org for more info.

Marie Mason is a loving mother of two and environmental and social justice activist. On March 10 she along with four others were arrested by FBI and homeland security agents and charged with two ELF related actions dating back almost a decade.

Marie’s case is the latest development in what has been dubbed the Green Scare, a recent wave of government repression aimed at disrupting and discrediting grassroots environmental activism and criminalizing dissent. See http://www.freemarie.org, http://www.greenscare.org and http://www.ecoprisoners.org more info on the Green Scare, Marie and her case.

June 7 – 8pm

Martineau Lofts – 126 S Division (look for signs!)

$2-$10 Suggested Donation.

Michigan ELF Informant Recorded Conversations with Activists

New information has come out suggesting that Frank Ambrose–a government information in Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arsons here in Michigan–has provided “countless hours” of audio recordings with activists to the government. Moreover, the government’s big break in the case may have come from Ambrose making a mistake in disposing possible evidence.

The North American Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network has posted new information on Frank Ambrose’s cooperation with the federal government in a series of cases pertaining to Earth Liberation Front (ELF) actions in Michigan. As part of his guilty plea, Ambrose agreed to provide information on actions of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Disturbingly, at various points in affidavits in the case Ambrose is singled out by the government for involvement in legal activities.

The Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network is reporting that Ambrose has produced countless hours of recordings with other activists in the year before his indictment:

“There are countless tapes of audio recordings of Frank wearing a wire with innocent individuals since April 2007. If you have spoken or associated with Frank during ANY time since April 2007, you should assume that your entire conversation was recorded. It appears that a substantial portion of the EF! Organizers Conference in Florida was also recorded, as those conversations can be found on the audio tapes. Frank is obviously the worst type of informant; if you have ever had any association with him, you should assume that any knowledge he has about you and your activities was given to the Feds. He was directed to pay particular attention to the I-69 EF! campaign (a completely legal activist effort). If you have been visited by law enforcement in relation to these investigations, please get a hold of the NLG as soon as possible by calling 888-NLG-ECOLAW. There are activists and lawyers who are more than willing to help you. You should also send an email to Midwest Green Scare at fightthegreenscare (a) riseup.net. Remember to NEVER speak to law enforcement. You are only endangering yourself and others. Always consult with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.”

The group has also published a search warrant for Ambrose’s home from April 2007. After the execution of the warrant, Ambrose began cooperating with federal investigators.

The search warrant was for written materials pertaining to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF), computers, maps, receipts, and other materials that could tie him and activist Marie Mason to a failed ELF arson at an Ice Mountain pumping station in Mecosta County, Michigan in 2003.

In an affidavit attached to the search warrant, the FBI outlines why it sought the warrant. According to the affidavit, the FBI was contacted shortly after the incendiary devices were found and began an investigation. The FBI investigated two groups organizing against Ice Mountain–Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and Sweetwater Alliance. The investigation focused more on Sweetwater Alliance, as it focused advocates “direct action,” which the affidavit says is a term used by the Earth Liberation Front “to refer to criminal acts directed against targets of interest by these groups.” The FBI also notes that a representative of the Sweetwater Alliance was quoted in a Big Rapids, Michigan newspaper stating that the Alliance will stop Ice Mountain “one way or another.”

The affidavit goes onto state that Ambrose and Mason were both known by the FBI for their involvement in Earth First! and possibly the ELF in Indiana. It explains that Ambrose was believed to be behind a tree-spiking action claimed by the ELF in 2000 but that surveillance camera footage of Ambrose purchasing the spikes was not sufficient to identify him conclusively. The affidavit states that the couple moved to Michigan from Indiana in 2000 and that since that time ELF actions ceased in the state while they increased in Michigan. Internet surveillance was conducted in 2004 and it was found that Ambrose “visited several web sites that were consistent with involvement in the Earth Liberation Front” including EarthLiberationFront.com.

However, the FBI’s major break through in the case seems to have from a mistake on Ambrose’s part (see: security culture)–he dumped possible evidence of the arsons in a random dumpster. According to the affidavit, Ambrose threw several boxes in the dumpster of R.W. Hydraulics, Inc. in Redford, Michigan. In the boxes were possible evidence of Ambrose’s involvement including Earth First! magazines, gas masks, photographs of arsons, a map of Mecosta County with the area near the Ice Mountain pumping station highlighted, various components that could possibly be used to make an explosive device, and printed email correspondence between Ambrose, Mason, and others.

The affidavit concludes that because of this information–and their involvement in 2007 with the Sweetwater Alliance–that the two were involved in attempted arson at Ice Mountain.

It is being reported that shortly after this warrant was executed, Ambrose began cooperating with the FBI–eventually leading to the arrest of three other individuals in connection with a 1999 ELF arson at Michigan State University. Moreover, Ambrose has been said to be cooperating in over a dozen cases, has engaged in surveillance at an Earth First! gathering, and reportedly is being used as a source of information against those organizing to stop I-69.

How you can help Midwest Green Scare Defendant Marie Mason Prepare for Trial

Mediamouse.org is reprinting this announcement from the Friends of Marie Mason group on how you can support alleged arsonist Marie Mason who is being charged for for an Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arson at Michigan State University (MSU). Mason’s arrest is part of a recent government campaign dubbed “the Green Scare” that is targeting environmental and animal rights activists.

We have received word of a tentative trail date for Marie in early August. With the possibility of a trial only a few months away please keep in mind that time is of the utmost importance with the following request.

Marie’s attorney has requested for articles pertaining to to the below subjects. While digital format is preferred any format will be accepted. Please email any info you feel relevant to freemarie@riseup.net or mail to the below address.

Marie needs all the help and support she can get right now. Please do what you can.

Check out http://www.midwestgreenscare.org for more support ideas.

Solidarity is a Weapon,

GOT YOUR BACK

C/o Friends of Marie Mason

P.O. Box 19065

Cincinnati, OH 45219

midwestgreenscare.org

We are requesting that any articles sent be from “from mainstream media or science sources for enhanced credibility”.

1) Articles about the dangers and limitations of GMO foods/ crops

2) Specifically, the work that Catherine Ives was doing at MSU around 2000

3) Articles on Greenspace and global warming (buffering action). These we could also pass on to Maketewah for their work on the anti-development campaigns. Maybe the city of Toledo would be a source, as they are developing a greenspace policy.

4) Articles on deforestation, or in general about imminent environmental collapse (Joseph Speth, Naomi Klein are some recent “credible” authors)

5) We are also seeking recent cases that might help with sentencing advice (ie non political arson cases, vandalism cases)for comparison.

6) We are also seeking a transcript of Rod Coronado’s 1995 MSU related trial. Specifically the presentation by Rods attorneys about who Rod was politically.

Witch-Hunting the Environmental Movement: The Politics of Green Scare

Mediamouse.org is reprinting this article by Stephen Lendman because it offers important background information and analysis on the targeting of environmental activists in the United States. This is of particular importance with the recent indictments of four individuals for an Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arson at Michigan State University.

Mediamouse.org is reprinting this article by Stephen Lendman because it offers important background information and analysis on the targeting of environmental activists in the United States. This is of particular importance with the recent indictments of four individuals for an Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arson at Michigan State University.

In May 2005, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism John Lewis told a Senate panel that ecoterrorism is “one of today’s most serious domestic terrorism threats.” Then the FBI’s James Jarboe estimated that two organizations (the Earth Liberation Front – ELF and Animal Liberation Front – ALF) committed over 600 criminal acts since 1996, causing over $43 million in damage. For his part, Lewis said both groups committed more than 1100 such acts since 1976, “conservatively” resulting in around $110 million in damages.

What’s going on, and is there anything to these charges? Coming from FBI sources makes them highly suspect, especially when there are two types of documented cases:

— people guilty of non-violent offenses called “terrorism” and given excessively harsh sentences; and most disturbing

— innocent people targeted, accused, convicted and sentenced to hard time for environmental activism or supporting animal rights; and that’s on top of hundreds of other political persecutions and many thousands of innocent people (or petty criminals) in US prisons.

This behavior isn’t new in America, but things heated up after 9/11 with the administration wasting no time getting going. That evening, George Bush addressed the nation and declared a “war against terrorism,” asked for world support, and began the government’s “emergency (preventive war strategy) response plans.” It was planned and ready before 9/11 as a “war of terrorism” to defile the law, wage aggressive wars, usurp unprecedented powers, destroy our civil liberties, and convince the public to sacrifice freedom for the security they never got. In addition, the October 2001 USA Patriot Act (written well before 9/11) created the federal crime of “domestic terrorism” that broadened the definition and applied it to US citizens as well as aliens.

When John Lewis addressed another Senate panel in May 2004, he stated that “the FBI divides the terrorist threat facing (the country) into two broad categories, international and domestic….and during the past decade we have witnessed dramatic changes in the nature of the domestic terrorist threat.” For a while “right-wing extremism” (loosely defined as the militia movement) overtook left-wing terrorism (but in) the past several years….special interest extremism (from groups like) the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), and related extremists, has emerged as a serious domestic terrorist threat.” That view is amplified on the FBI’s web site that states the Bureau “is part of a vast national and international campaign dedicated to defeating terrorism” with ecoterrorism a key part of it.

The FBI defined it in 2002 to mean: “the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.”

Activists refer to a tactic called “monkeywrenching” from the 1985 Dave Foreman/Bill Haywood-edited book “Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching.” It describes it as:

— “nonviolent resistance to the destruction of natural diversity and wilderness (and) never directed against human beings or other forms of life;

— strategic….thoughtful (and) deliberate in order to succeed;

— individual or very small (group actions) of people who have known each other for years (and have) trust and a good working relationship;

— targeted (because) mindless, erratic vandalism is counterproductive as well as unethical;

— timely (and) not….when there is a nonviolent civil disobedience action;

— dispersed (to) hasten overall industrial retreat from wild areas;

— fun (even though it’s) serious and potentially dangerous;

— not revolutionary….to overthrow any social, political, or economic system;

— simple (with) elaborate commando operations generally avoided; and

— deliberate and ethical (by being) the most moral of all actions: protecting life, defending Earth.”

The Earth First Journal defines the practice as: “Ecotage (environmentally-motivated sabotage), ecodefense, billboard bandit(ry by sawing offensive ones down), road reclamation (to remediate environmental damage), tree spiking (with nails to discourage destructive logging), even fire.” These are unlawful sabotage acts “of industrial extraction and development equipment, as a means of striking at the Earth’s destroyers where they commit their crimes and hitting them where they feel it most – in their profit margins.” It goes “beyond civil disobedience. It is nonviolent, aimed only at inanimate objects. It is one of the last steps in defense of the wild….by an Earth defender when almost all other measures have failed.”

In May 2004, Republican George Nethercutt targeted them by introducing the Ecoterrorism Prevention Act of 2004, but it didn’t pass. If it had, it would have made a federal crime: “certain violent, threatening, obstructive, and destructive conduct that is intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with plant and animal enterprises, and for other purposes.”

Republicans tried again in July with the Terrorism Against Animal-Use Entities Prohibition Improvement Act that would have amended the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act and made it harsher. It also failed to pass, but defeat was only temporary.

On November 27, 2006, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) amended the 1992 act and became law with very harsh provisions. It’s language is broad and vague, but it criminalizes First Amendment activities that advocate for animal rights like peaceful protests, leafleting, undercover investigations, whistleblowing and boycotts.

The new law updates the earlier act with penalties far exceeding comparable offenses under other laws. It also goes much further. It allows expanded surveillance of animal rights organizations, including criminal wiretapping, and makes it easier for a court to find probable cause for the vague crime of economic damage or disruption than for one requiring hard evidence a person or group plans to commit these acts.

The bill exempts “lawful public, governmental or business reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise,” but that only applies to economic disruption claims, not damage, and makes it hard to distinguish between the two. It also:

— expands the kinds of facilities covered by adding ones that use or sell animals and animal products;

— covers any person, entity or organization connected to an animal enterprise;

— applies to any form of advocacy;

— criminalizes threatening conduct and protected speech as well as communication with anyone engaging in these practices;

— protects corporate animal abusers with a vested interest in silencing dissent; and

— targets any form of civil disobedience or protest activity and designates animal advocates as terrorists even when they cause no physical harm; in addition, the bill’s language is so broad and vague (by design), it’s hard to know the difference between legal and illegal behavior; it’s an act of green scare state terrorism that, in fact, can be used against anyone.

Green Scare – A Definition

Activists equate it to earlier Red Scare periods after WW I and II when the government used various schemes to incite fear, sanction witch hunt prosecutions, and win widespread public approval for them. The term may first have been used in 2002 and refers to legal and extralegal government actions against animal liberation and environmental activists. The Spirit of Freedom prisoner support network defines it as “tactics the government and (their enforcement agencies use) to attack the ELF/ALF (Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front) and specifically those who publicly support them.”

The term also refers to the 2005 arrests, indictments and convictions from the FBI’s Operation Backfire against alleged ELF/ALF activists. It charged them with damaging property, conspiracy, arson and using destructive devices.

The Operation was the FBI’s code name for its ten year domestic “war on terrorism” that’s, in fact, a war on dissent. It resulted in 17 Pacific Northwest arson indictments with evidence that was very suspect. It came from a heroin-addicted self-professed serial arsonist whose former girl friend mentioned him in a grand jury proceeding. On December 7, 2005, it culminated when federal and local law enforcement agents began the largest ever roundup of alleged environmental and animal liberation activists. Seven arrests were made in four states, others got grand jury subpoenas, and people seized were charged with various acts of destroying property as part of ELF and ALF efforts.

Those arrested faced potential unprecendented sentences for non-violent acts from which no one was harmed. In some cases, they could be mandatory 30 year periods and in others life if found guilty on all counts. That compares to a median sentence of five years for arson.

With that as a threat, all but four defendants testified against the others in return for leniency. The remaining four struck plea bargains to admit responsibility but incriminate no one else. At sentencing in June 2007, the presiding judge was harsh. He included Terrorism Enhancements (TE) that are used when the justice department decides a crime aimed to influence or coerce government policy. It means sentences may be longer, and the Bureau of Prisons gets greater latitude in assigning prisoners that may be to “supermax” facilities for the most violent offenders.

In this case, sentences ranged from three years, one month to 13 years with most defendants getting added TEs. In addition, on October 26, 2007, FBI informant and serial arsonist Jacob Ferguson pleaded guilty to one count of arson and an additional count of attempted arson. According to his plea bargain, he won’t be charged for his other offenses. Further, he’s required to make no restitution, his formal sentencing keeps being postponed, it may come up ahead, but prosecutors recommend he spend no time in prison, receive no fines, and be able to keep the $50,000 or more he was paid for cooperating.

That’s the state of things today where anything goes in the “war on terrorism” and publicizing arrests and convictions takes precedence over justice. Unless stopped, things will only get worse.

ELF and ALF – A Brief Description

On its web site, ELF describes itself as “an underground movement with no leadership, membership or official spokesperson” and uses its site “to inform and chronicle issues related to ELF.” It further states:

— “Any individuals who committed arson or any other illegal acts under the ELF name….choose to do so….and do so only driven by their personal conscience;

— These choices are not endorsed, encouraged, or approved of by this web site’s management, webmasters, affiliates, or other participants;

— The intention of this web site is journalistic in intent only to inform and chronicle issues related to ELF;

— The owners, management, webmasters, affiliates, or other participants of this website are not spokespersons, members, or affiliates of The Earth Liberation Front in any way; nor do the opinions of anyone acting in the name of The Earth Liberation Front or ELF, represent the opinions of” those affiliated with this site.

Others refer to the ELF as a collective of autonomous individuals or cells that use “economic sabotage and guerrilla war to stop the exploitation and destruction of the natural environment.” The organization was founded in Brighton, England in 1992, spread across Europe by 1994, and is now an international movement in over a dozen countries. The FBI designated ELF its top domestic terror threat in March 2001 and called the group “ecoterrorists.”

The ALF is an international animal liberation organization with roots in the 19th century and with no formal membership or leadership. Its web site defines “animal rights” as “the philosophy of allowing nonhuman animals to have the basic rights that all sentient beings desire; freedom to live a natural life, free from human exploitation, unnecessary pain and suffering, and premature death.” It believes animals aren’t property any more than humans are and asks if animal rights will become the “next great social justice movement.” It cites President of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) David Weisbrot saying treating animals is increasingly becoming a social and legal issue as well as an important economic one.

Its members engage in direct action on behalf of animals, including removing them from laboratories and fur farms (they call liberation, not theft) and sabotaging animal testing and industry animal-based facilities. Its statements affirm it supports any acts that further animal liberation where reasonable precautions are taken not to endanger life. Its covert cells operate in dozens of countries clandestinely and independently of each other. In January 2005, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated ALF a domestic terrorist threat.

Examples of Witch Hunt Convictions

Many can be cited, but Jeff Luers’ case is typical. In June 2001, he was sentenced to 22 years, eight months for burning three SUVs to raise awareness of global warming and how these gas-guzzlers contribute to it. No one was hurt, $40,000 in damages resulted, and the vehicles were refurbished and subsequently sold. Jeff is a political prisoner, and his sentence exceeds that for murder, kidnapping and rape under Oregon law where he resides. He appealed in January 2002, the hearing was held in November 2005, and on February 14, 2007 the Appeals Court remanded his case to the Circuit Court for resentencing. The case was heard on February 28, 2008 after which his sentence was reduced to 10 years.

Josh Harper is another political prisoner who committed no crime. He’s an activist believer in animal liberation, preserving the wilderness, and participated in human freedom projects for over 10 years. In 1997, he co-created Breaking Free Video magazine and went on speaking tours in 1999. He also sabotaged a whale hunt, defied grand juries, and contributed to confrontational protest campaigns. It made him a target and got him indicted for violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).

Evidence at his trial was mostly from two of his speeches in 2001 and 2002. He spoke about already committed political sabotage acts as well as European anti-vivisection campaigns he supported. He also ended one speech by demonstrating how to participate in a form of electronic civil disobedience called “black faxing” that involves sending multiple black paper sheets through an opponent’s fax machine. It got him arrested, charged and convicted.

He was one of six animal rights activists in the so-called SHAC 7 (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) case. Charges against one of the original 7 were dropped. SHAC is an international animal rights campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) – one of the world’s largest contract research organizations, UK based, and operating on three continents. It’s also Europe’s largest contract animal-testing laboratory and uses around 75,000 animals each year in its operations.

UK-based activists established SHAC in 1999 and successfully closed down two animal-testing operations in their country. It’s now a worldwide campaign, the first of its kind, and it operates in the UK, US, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy as well as many other countries. It calls its campaign “innovative” and states it doesn’t “encourage or incite illegal activity.”

On March 2, 2006, Harper and his co-defendants were charged and convicted of conspiracy to violate AETA (and several other charges) and got sentences of from four to six years. The case was an appalling miscarriage of justice for violating the defendants’ First Amendment rights that AETA repealed for these activists. The defendants weren’t charged with violent or threatening acts. Instead, the case was based on the notion that animal rights organizers are responsible for actions others take that the prosecution equated to a global conspiracy.

Briana Waters is another example of gross injustice. She’s an innocent woman charged and convicted. On March 30, 2006, she was arrested and accused of being a lookout in connection with an alleged 2001 arson at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. Waters is a California resident, violin teacher and mother of a young child. She was indicted, then reindicted with other defendants on May 10 on charges that included using a destructive device that carries a mandatory 30 year sentence.

On December 26, 2007, her lawyers filed a motion accusing the Justice Department of concealing vital exculpatory information as well as producing a fraudulent FBI report. The agency is infamous for creating “evidence” out of whole cloth and getting manipulated informants to state it. Nonetheless, a hostile federal judge denied defense’s motion and went further as well. He ruled against allowing a defense expert to rebut government “evidence” that a delayed incendiary device was a bomb.

One of Waters’ attorneys expressed outrage over a common federal practice of “The government hand-picking (the) judge (and) manipulating court procedures. This is a classic case of a corrupt prosecution, and a judge who apparently chooses to look the other way.” It’s no surprise at a time two-thirds of all federal judges are from or affiliated with the extremist Federalist Society. It advocates rolling back civil liberties; ending New Deal social policies; opposing reproductive choice, government regulations, labor rights and environmental protections; and subverting justice in defense of privilege.

Waters was up against this when her trial began on February 11, 2008. She was further disadvantaged by the government’s case being based on two informants who struck a plea bargain by pleading guilty to conspiracy, arson and destructive devices in return for leniency. On March 6, Waters was convicted on two arson counts, but the jury deadlocked on the more serious charges of a destructive device and conspiracy. Despite prosecution claims, no devices were found nor was there evidence of conspiracy. That raises serious questions of the government’s falsifying evidence and lying to the jury about it. Again, no surprise under witch hunt justice with innocent people like Briana being harmed.

Her case also featured circumstantial evidence, including a folder containing radical pamphlets with a note on the cover from Waters to one of the informants. She testified that she didn’t write them or subscribe to their views. The prosecution claimed otherwise. Her defense also argued that Waters knew nothing about the materials, they were substituted for ones she put in the folder, and her fingerprints weren’t on the ones in it for proof.

Civil rights attorney Ben Rosenfeld said the “government’s case was primarily based on character assassination and guilt by association (and that) evidence of other people’s writings should never have been allowed to be used against her.” He also denounced former Attorney General Gonzales for proclaiming Waters guilty in the media after she was indicted. He harmed her chances at the outset and showed convictions count more than justice, especially when charges of terrorism are raised. Waters strongly defends her innocence and will likely appeal the verdict. Sentencing is on May 30.

A Look Ahead

Post-9/11, future prospects look grim with fear prevailing over reason, a bipartisan effort exploiting it, and convictions more important than justice. If friends of the earth and animal rights champions are targeted, so can anyone. Governments today won’t protect us and neither do courts that defer to their lawlessness. As a result, expect lots more innocent people hurt because those in power want unlimited amounts of it and won’t let anyone stop them from getting it. It means hard times ahead when the law won’t protect us, dissent is a crime, and the greater good is sacrificed to benefit the privileged.

What to do? Get active, organize, speak out, resist, and use the law for whatever justice is still under it. Things are very dire, change isn’t coming next year, and, more than ever, apathy isn’t an option. In America’s “war on terrorism,” we’re all potential targets.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

MSU ELF Arson Suspect Cooperating with Police

The Earth Liberation Prisoners Support Network (ELP)–an international “network of groups that support people who take action in defense of the Earth and its inhabitants”–is reporting that Frank Ambrose, one of the suspects arrested for the 1999 Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arsons at Michigan State University (MSU), may have agreed to have a conversation with another suspect taped:

“ELP is sad to report that we are receiving more information on the American police informant Frank Ambrose. Documents seen by ELP refer to an informant CS1 who is believed to be Ambrose. CS1 has suggested to the FBI that Marie Mason was involved with both ELF and ALF activities and CS1 allowed a telephone conversation between themself and Marie Mason, in February 2008, to be bugged.

Please note the date, CS1 was cooperating with the FBI in February 2008 before Ambrose and the others were arrested.

It is also being suggested that Ambrose may have named up to 15 people to the FBI as part of his cooperation agreement.

ELP will bring you more news on this as we get it.”

In late March, Ambrose plead guilty and agreed to provide information in the MSU case as well as other actions undertaken by the Earth Liberation Front.

Eco-Activist Arrested in Relation to ELF Arsons Released

Marie Mason, one of four suspects indicted recently for an Earth Liberation Front (ELF) arson at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1999 was arraigned yesterday in Grand Rapids. Following the arraignment, Mason was released with a number of stipulations. The latest from update from her support collective reads:

Marie’s arraignment was today. She was granted release on a $75,000 unsecured bond pending pre-trial services setting up an electronic tether. She is restricted to the Western District of Michigan and may have no contact with anyone whom, to her knowledge, is or ever was involved in criminal activity related to environmental causes. She will also face other travel restrictions. We realize this requires some explanation.

As to the “unsecured bond”, this means that no money is required up front but that Marie agrees to appear in court or else face the penalty of paying $75,000. The electronic tether is as yet unclear. The full implications of the other travel restrictions are as yet unclear other than the fact that she will need approval of pre-trial services to travel anywhere outside of the Western District of Michigan. Right now Marie is being held until the electronic tether is established and then she will be released. She has a place to stay in Western Michigan already.

We understand and appreciate that there are a lot of folks out there who care about Marie and wish to be in touch with her. Nevertheless, we all must be considerate and careful to act in Marie’s best interest. Due to the restrictions of the bond, we are asking that no one attempt to contact Marie directly. If you wish to be in contact with Marie, please E-MAIL us and give us your contact information and we will pass it along.

We would also like to address another issue that has been of some importance lately. We (Got Your Back) deal with a huge number of e-mails and phone calls on a daily basis. The release of our phone numbers to certain individuals was done on basis of necessity. If we have given you our phone contacts, please do not release them to anyone without consulting us. If you wish to be in contact with us or to ask a general question, please email us.

We have received many emails requesting information related to Frank Ambrose. We have not been in contact with Frank since his indictment, and we do not support him in any way. We will continue to release all relevant information as it becomes available.

in the struggle,

Got Your Back

Friends of Marie Mason

P.O. Box 19065

Cincinnati, OH 45219

Freemarie[-@-]riseup.net

MSU Arson Suspect Pleads Guilty

On Wednesday, Frank Ambrose, one of the four people indicted for a 1999 arson at Michigan State University claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), plead guilty to conspiracy to commit arson. In addition, Ambrose admitted involvement in additional ELF actions and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in this and other cases.

On Wednesday, Frank Ambrose, one of four suspects arrested for a 1999 arson at Michigan State University claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), plead guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy to commit arson. Under the plea agreement, Ambrose will face 5 to 20 years in prison with the possibility of his sentence being reduced by recommendation of the US Attorney in the case, in addition to financial restitution estimated at $3.7 million.

In exchange for the plea agreement, Ambrose agreed that he will cooperate fully with the US Attorney and the FBI in their investigation of the MSU arsons or other crimes over which they have jurisdiction. The agreement states:

“The Defendant’s cooperation will consist of all steps needed to uncover and prosecute such crimes, including, but not limited to providing investigators with a full, complete, and truthful statement concerning the Defendant’s knowledge of any and all criminal activity of which he is aware; truthfully answering investigators’ questions; meeting with prosecutors before testifying; truthfully testifying before grand juries and in any court proceedings; and providing all relevant tangible evidence in the Defendant’s possession or under the Defendant’s control, including, but not limited to, objects, documents, and photographs. The Defendant’s obligation to cooperate under this paragraph is an affirmative one and includes the obligation to voluntarily come forward with any and all information which the Defendant should reasonably know will assist in the investigation of other criminal activity. The defendant will neither commit nor assist others in the commission of any criminal offense during the course of his cooperation with the United States. The Defendant will submit to polygraph examinations upon request. The Defendant’s obligation under this paragraph is a continuing one, and shall continue after sentencing until all investigations and prosecutions in which the Defendant’s cooperation is deemed relevant by the U.S. Attorney’s Office have been completed.”

In addition to agreeing to cooperate with federal investigators, Ambrose also accepted the government’s version of what happened. This is reiterated again in the plea agreement, with the only difference being that the government is more clear about the involvement of a “fifth person” in the effort. The government also alleges that three individuals involved in the conspiracy “decided that not enough planning had gone into the attack and that they would remain in Empire [Michigan] because they were too afraid of being caught.” In addition to admitting his involvement in the Michigan State University and Mesick arsons that are the subject of the indictment, Ambrose admitted involvement in three additional Earth Liberation Front actions in Michigan and eight in Indiana.

While much remains unknown about the particulars of the case and why Ambrose agreed to the plea agreement, Ambrose’s agreeing to cooperate will likely be the subject of much debate within the radical environmental movement. In the wake of the “Green Scare” arrests, there has been considerable debate over whether or not it is acceptable to cooperate with investigators. Moreover, the sentences of “cooperating” verses “non-cooperating” defendants have typically not been much lighter. Similarly, some defendants in the Green Scare cases reached plea agreements where they admitted responsibility but are not required to name or implicate anyone but themselves, nor are they required to testify in court against others.