[New publication]: The “Green Scare” & “Eco-Terrorism”: The Development of US “Counter-Terrorism” Strategy Targeting Direct Action Activists

After a fair bit of time passing I have decided to share this book chapter to be included in the forthcoming edited volume entitled, “The Law Against Animals: A Challenge to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism,” due out on St. Martin’s Press later this year.  I originally wrote the paper in 2010 and am excited to share it today.

A complete copy of the final (draft) version can be found at:



Beginning in the late 1990s, the United States federal government (or, the “State”) initiated a counter-terrorism campaign directed at an emerging network of domestic environmental, and animal rights, direct action activists targeting property (e.g. vandalism, sabotage, theft and arson) under the monikers of the Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front.  With measured pace, federally managed law enforcement agencies identified a “threat” which they perceived was growing.  The State then accelerated its observation, gathered information on the environmental and animal rights movements, and began to allocate local and national resources to address the movements’ surges.

Ironically, the FBI acknowledged in 2005 that the number of incidents of property damage was actually decreasing, although it attributed the drop to its Operation Backfire convictions.  Nonetheless, the perceived threat of environmental and animal rights-themed property destruction was framed politically as a primary domestic threat deserving of national attention.  However, the federalized investigations of these incidents represent a divergence in traditional jurisdictional limitations of US law enforcement.  Even court records imply that the National Security Agency (NSA), typically employed for outside military operations, might have been used to conduct wiretapping domestically on these activists.

Upon deciding to engage with these movements, the US government developed laws and organizational structures for the intelligence and law enforcement community to use in their efforts to prosecute, uncover, and disrupt them.  This is not dissimilar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (“FBI”) counter-intelligence operations (“COINTELPRO”) of the 1960s and 1970s.  However, more pervasive than COINTELPRO, the counter-terrorism strategy, taken as a whole, has been able to incorporate all three branches of government.  The State was able to coalesce its abilities through multi-departmental taskforces built on agencies’ specialized skill sets, and through information sharing and international cooperation.  The FBI was able to make arrests and to use defendants’ testimonies, leading to indictments, arrests, and convictions.


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