- Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) is a
United States federal lawintroduced by Republican Thomas Petriof Wisconsin. The final version of the bill, recently passed by both the United States Senateand the House of Representatives, was known as S. 3880. [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s109-3880 GovTrack: S. 3880 [109th: Text of Legislation ] ] Earlier versions of the bill were known as S. 1926 and H.R. 4239. [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h109-4239 GovTrack: H.R. 4239 [109th: Text of Legislation ] ] The bill is described by the author as being intended to "provide the Department of Justice the necessary authority to apprehend, prosecute, and convict individuals committing animal enterprise terror."
The intended targets are
animal rightsactivists and environmental activists, sometimes called eco-terrorists, who engage in acts of "force, violence, and threats involving animal enterprises" by penalizing damage or interference to animal enterprises or conspiring or attempting to damage or interfere with an animal enterprise. The law does not "prohibit any expressive conduct (including peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration) protected from legal prohibition by the First Amendment to the Constitution,"
The House passed the bill under a
suspension of the rules, which meant that only six Representatives were present to vote on it. Among the six, the only opposition was from Representative Dennis Kucinich, who said that the bill was "written in such a way as to have a chilling effect on the exercise of the constitutional rights of protest... people who, the law says, well, their first amendment rights are protected... I think for that reason, this bill has not yet reached its maturity." [http://www.c-spanarchives.org/congress/?q=node/77531&id=7511162 View Appearance | C-SPAN Congressional Chronicle, Created by Cable. Offered as a Public Service ] ]
The bill was passed by the Senate by unanimous consent in September 2006 and was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives by a voice vote in November 2006. [ [http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-25716825_ITM House Unanimously Passes Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act] "Capitol Hill Press Releases" November 13, 2006] [ [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-3880 S. 3880 (109th): Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act] GovTrack Legislation: 2005-2006 (109th Congress)] It was signed into law by President
George W. Bushon November 27, 2006.__TOC__
American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU), though not opposing the bill, sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, requesting "minor changes" to the bill to address concerns that "legitimate expressive activity" which economically damages or inhibits the business of an animal enterprise, could be classified as terrorist activity. The ACLU also expressed concern that the bill could be used against those interrupting illegal animal enterprises, such as animal fighting. [http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/27356leg20061030.html American Civil Liberties Union : ACLU Letter to the House of Representatives Regarding the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act ] ]
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animalsopposed the bill and "is sorry" it passed into law. [https://secure2.convio.net/aspca/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=2037&autologin=true&JServSessionIdr007=7gfyle4v22.app17a ASPCA: ] ]
Animal rights activists have criticized the bill on the grounds that it does not provide explicit protection for
whistleblowingand undercover investigations, [http://www.peta.org/Automation/AlertItem.asp?id=2032 PETA - Action Alerts ] ] and complained they have been unfairly singled out. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animalsclaimed that "no other industrial sector in U.S. history has ever been given such legal protections against people's exercising of their First Amendment free-speech rights.
According to PETA, this bill is an attempt by corporations to manipulate people's fear of terrorism in an effort to stop the peaceful animal protection movement". The
Humane Society of the United Statesbelieves the law's language is overly broad and vague, the current law is satisfactory, and that the AETA could be interpreted to protect unlawful animal enterprises.http://www.hsus.org/web-files/PDF/109_AETA_factsheet.pdf] Alliance for Animalsdirector Lori Nitzel suggested "it heavily criminalizes civil disobedience, and just for animal rights activists." [http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/local/index.php?ntid=108799&ntpid=3] , mirrored at [http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/realityzone/UFNAnimalTerrorAct.htm] ] However, Jerry Vlasak, spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, suggested the bill would have little impact on the movement because underground activists "don't really care about those laws" and law enforcement agencies had already "gone after" effective above-ground activists. [http://www.upi.com/HealthBusiness/view.php?StoryID=20061114-045942-5048r Health Business - Analysis - UPI.com ] ]
American Kennel Clubendorsed the bill, because it contains "explicit language" which protects the right of protesters to engage in "peaceful picketingor other peaceful demonstration." [http://www.akc.org/news/blocks/print_article.cfm?article_id=3057 The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Passes the House of Representatives ] ] Frankie Trull, president of the National Association for Biomedical Researchdescribed as "just silly" fears that peaceful protest would be criminalized by the bill, believing it would only apply when protesters "harass someone to the extent that they fear for their safety." The bill was supported by the Animal Enterprise Protection Coalition, an industry group including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Rocheand Wyethamong its members, Fact|date=November 2007 leading the the activist group Win Animal Rights to suggest it was "bought and paid for, by the pharmaceutical industry" Fact|date=November 2007
* [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s109-3880 Text of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act]
* [http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h109-4239 Earlier House version of the bill (H.R. 4239)]
* [http://judiciary.house.gov/media/pdfs/printers/109th/27742.pdf Transcript of the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act]
* [http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/gen/25620leg20060306.html ACLU Letter to Congress Opposing the AETA]
* [http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/27356leg20061030.html ACLU Letter to James Sensenbrenner Supporting an Amended AETA]
* [http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1142203810052&call_pageid=970599109774&col=Columnist969907626796 U.S. terror hunt targets animal activists (Toronto Star)]
* [http://www.peta.org/Automation/AlertItem.asp?id=2032 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Action Alert Regarding the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act]
* [https://secure2.convio.net/aspca/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=2037&autologin=true&JServSessionIdr007=7gfyle4v22.app17a American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Action Alert Regarding the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act]
* [http://www.counterpunch.org/overton08032007.html The Casualties of Green Scare (CounterPunch)]
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