Animal Activists and the New PR War Designed to Link Acts of Conscience With Domestic Terrorism

Animal Activists and terrorists are terms which do not seem to go hand in hand. However, Berkeley, CA native Daniel San Diego has been added to the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist list alongside Osama bin Laden and a rogue's gallery of suspected mass murderers. Along with a physical description including his tattoos, the FBI notes that San Diego "has ties to animal rights extremist groups," and "is known to follow a vegan diet, eating no meat or food containing animal products." He is obviously a scary character.

San Diego is accused of planting pipe bombs overnight in two buildings in 2003, ostensibly for a group called "Revolutionary Cells-Liberation Brigade." He is notable not only for being the only suspected domestic terrorist to make the list, and the only animal activist to be given such notoriety, but for being the only one who hasn't harmed anyone.

It is not our intention to defend Daniel San Diego, or promote the type of crime he has been accused of, but it is laughable to suggest he is on a par with fugitives wanted by the FBI for murder, using weapons of mass destruction, hostage taking resulting in death, and so on.

So what is actually going here? Is it possible that there is an active campaign to equate environmental and animal activism to terrorism? It's quite possible...The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was passed in November 2006 specifically to define vandalism, economic sabotage, whistle-blowing, media campaigns and undercover filming as a terrorist act if it causes a company - an animal enterprise - to lose money. For the purposes of this law, an animal enterprise is any business that "uses or sells animals or animal products" (including food, clothing, pets, entertainment or scientific research) and also covers people or businesses connected to an animal enterprise.

Corporate interests are engaging in multiple PR wars to leverage our abhorrence of terrorism and apply it to non-violent acts of conscience, particularly those practiced by animal activists and grassroots progressives. Mainstream organizations like the Humane Society and Greenpeace are often called "domestic terrorists" by industry, government and media mouthpieces. Country singer Carrie Underwood was recently accused of supporting terrorism for donating to the Humane Society, as was the cable channel Animal Planet for its popular series "Whale Wars" about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's work to stop illegal whaling.

San Diego targeted companies allegedly sponsoring animal testing at Huntingdon Life Sciences, an international laboratory responsible for unspeakable violence against animals. Thousands of animals are tortured and killed there every day - nearly 200,000 animals each year - and numerous Huntingdon employees have been convicted of animal cruelty. Some animals, such as baboons, are kidnapped from their native habitats and brought to a Huntingdon lab; others, like beagle puppies, are purchased by the dozens from breeders. They are confined in cells, immobilized in ridiculous contraptions, force-fed toxic chemicals and pesticides, injected with germs and viruses, endure surgeries with little to no pain management, have their limbs broken, substances rubbed into open wounds, and other horrific acts of torture.

These animals are, quite literally, terrorized - but the perpetrators will not appear on any government's "most wanted" list. Instead all types of animal activists and organizations representing animal rights are slowing being grouped, defined and commingled with hardcore criminals who are determined to cause long lasting harm to our country. Animal activists of all types should be aware of this subtle PR trend and be careful to clearly differentiate their goals from those of an ill-suited nature before the powers that be mute their voice of opinion.