FDL Book Salon Welcomes Will Potter, Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement under Siege
[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]
Kirk Murphy, Host:
Will Potter’s Green Is The New Red brings us front line reporting from a sustained war against our basic freedoms. The campaign targets our most fundamental rights – including the freedoms activists relied upon just over a generation ago in their successful struggle for civil rights. The campaign against our elemental rights draws on nearly unlimited public resources, and uses these resources to attack democracy. The campaign follows strategies designed by some of the most destructive and effective servants of corporatist power. The foot soldiers in this campaign go to work with guns on their belts. The campaign’s chief beneficiaries go home from work with salaries that buy penthouses in Manhattan and vacation homes in Vail and the Hamptons. The people who pay for this campaign are you, and I, and every American taxpayer. The campaign is called the Green Scare.
Will Potter’s Green Is The New Red brings together his years of work on these issues and reporting on this campaign against us. That work earned him recognition from Project Censored, as well as an invitation to testify before Congress…and, of course, a visit from the FBI. Will’s work and this book show us how the Green Scare isn’t merely an assault on eco-activists, but an assault upon us all.
Green Is the New Red reads like a novel. He starts by introducing us to Daniel McGowan, a young eco-activist who destroyed genetically engineered crops and later participated in two arsons as part of the Earth Liberation Front. We meet Daniel the day before he will plead guilty to terrorism. We learn of Daniel’s dismay that activist groups such as the Rainforest Action Network and the Ruckus Society wouldn’t speak out against the government labeling him a terrorist. McGowan can understand why they wouldn’t want to publicly support a saboteur, Will tells us, “but can’t they at least say destroying genetically engineered crops is not the same as flying planes into buildings?”
Will goes on to describe how Daniel expected the Federal Bureau of Prisons would support his attorneys’ request he begin his sentence in low-security facilities – after all, Daniel had never been violent. Instead, today Daniel is confined in the BOP’s Communication Management Unit: America’s domestic GITMO. He was returned to the CMU in Terra Haute, Indiana on February 24, 2011 shortly after the documentary film about him If a Tree Falls won editing awards at Sundance. By the time the film was picked up for US distribution, Daniel was locked away from media contact.
No wonder they’re called “Communication Management Units.”
Why is the US Department of Justice locking away non-violent eco-activist prisoners in domestic GITMOS? Why did the US Government spend vast resources on a provocateur named Anna to set up prosecution of Eric McDavid? Eric was her lover, he along with another young man was arrested right after they stepped out of a hardware store with materials for a bomb making plot designed and instigated by the FBI’s paid informant and provocateur, Anna. At a time when we all know corporatist banksters have done trillions of damage to America’s economy and walked free, why was Eric McDavid sentenced to Federal prison for over twenty years on terrorism charges when he hadn’t actually destroyed anything? How did Marie Mason – an eco-activist who actually had carried out property destruction – come to be sentenced to over twenty years in prison on “terror” charges?
How did we get here?
In Green Is the New Red, Will Potter tells the history of how legal advocacy and simple non-violent civil disobedience have all been lumped together with overt property destruction as “terrorism” – and as a priority for the Attorney General and the FBI. From his own experience he tells how simple, legal leafleting on animal rights issues earned him a morning vist from the FBI. He takes us to the ominous May, 2004 press conference where then-Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI Director Mueller proclaim that America is under threat from seven al Qaeda terrorists. The “terrorists” were actually seven animal rights activists targeting Huntingdon Life Sciences – where they had filmed employees punching beagle puppies and dissecting live monkeys. They had not carried out violence. They had coordinated the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign, where they reported on other people’s actions – including threats of violence. For this, they were ultimately convicted of federal crimes. They were convicted of federal crimes under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) – itself a creation of the corporatists’ far-right American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Not satisfied with the repression AEPA ensures, ALEC went on to create and push through Congress the Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act. AETA makes the same lunch counter civil disobedience that won the vote for African Americans a federal crime – with a risk of life in prison. To their lasting shame, the ACLU refused to oppose AETA, which only passed Congress on a voice vote without a quorum.
How did we get here? Where are we going?
Today some states all ready make filming police in public a criminal act. Legislation that will criminalize undercover investigations of factory farms – the vast industrial enterprises which pollute their regions with vast sewage lagoons, and pollute our food supply with contaminated meat and poultry – is pending in New York. Daniel McGowan is locked away in our heartland GITMO. Today, June 11, is an international day of support for Eric McDavid and Marie Mason who both sit in federal prison on sentences far longer than those given for rape and murder. And today all of us can be arrested on criminal charges that will send us to a federal prison for years – or even for life – if we protest and carry out non-violent civil disobedience in a manner that costs some megacorporation remotely connected to food a single penny.
How did we get here? What has happened to our country and our freedoms? How have we lost so much of our freedom – and how we regain those freedoms? For answers, we can turn to Will Potter, who has spent years on these questions.
Today is a very good day for Will Potter to join us at FDL, and we are very fortunate to have him with us.