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End the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
by CCR r
Friday Dec 5th, 2008 7:17 PM
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and a network of grassroots groups launch the Coalition to Abolish the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and a network of grassroots groups launch the Coalition to Abolish the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) - a coalition created to put an end to an unconstitutional law passed by Congress that is being used to repress dissent in the animal and environmental protection movements and threatens the civil liberties of all of us.

Check out the Coalition website at

Abolishing the AETA would roll back a dangerous standard that criminalizes dissent and invokes terrorism to stiffen penalties, potentially for all of us.

The AETA was signed into law by President Bush in the middle of the night on November 27, 2006, just hours before Congressional recess for November elections. The law was passed by a procedure called "suspension of the rules," often used to accomplish something that is normally not allowed by bypassing standard rules or processes. The AETA originates from the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) and expands the type of actions that are criminalized and increases penalties for violations.

This law, paid for by large pharmaceutical corporations and other big businesses, unconstitutionally violates the First Amendment rights of any individual or group that engages in protected acts like distributing materials, whistleblowing, organizing a consumer boycott, or producing a video by defining them as acts of terrorism. The AETA labels any individual or group that causes a loss of profit to a business that uses animals - or to any business that works with another that does - as "terrorists," even if animal exploitation or abuse is occurring. Under the AETA, such activities are criminalized, and activists receive charges and penalties disproportionate to their actions.

Compassion is not terrorism. Join us to build a strong coalition that big business can't buy. Endorse the Coalition to Abolish the AETA at the new website,, help spread the word, and take action today. We look forward to working with you to protect our constitutional rights.


Annette Dickerson Warren
Director of Education & Outreach

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Joe Zynth
Monday Dec 8th, 2008 1:26 PM
Did you actually read the law itself? Here's a juicy tidbit from the AETA:

"(e) Rules of Construction.— Nothing in this section shall be construed—
(1) to prohibit any expressive conduct (including peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration) protected from legal prohibition by the First Amendment to the Constitution;
(2) to create new remedies for interference with activities protected by the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution, regardless of the point of view expressed, or to limit any existing legal remedies for such interference;"

Furthermore, the AETA doesn't actually "create" new offenses. Property damage, assault, and harassment were illegal long before the AETA, under the Hobbs Act and state law.

To date, no person has been tried under said law for engaging in demonstrations or the like. What shameless lies you spread.
by then...
Tuesday Dec 9th, 2008 11:34 PM
"Furthermore, the AETA doesn't actually "create" new offenses. Property damage, assault, and harassment were illegal long before the AETA, under the Hobbs Act and state law."

If they were already illegal, then why pass a new law?
by J. Zynth
Wednesday Dec 10th, 2008 11:31 AM
The purpose of the AETA was to prosecute not only robbery and extortion against Animal Enterprises on the federal level (Which are covered by the Hobbs Act), but also crimes involving simple property damage, loss, and violent threats not related to theft per se, which before were only covered by state law.

This is nothing unique or special. Note 18 USC 248 (relating to Freedom to Access of Clinics), or even 18 USC 2118 (Robbery or Burglary towards DEA Registrants), etc.

The FACE Act was also the subject of controversy when it passed, with people fearing it would infringe upon the rights of pro-life protesters. Never happened. Like the AETA, it has specific language prohibiting the suppression of demonstrations protected by the first amendment, and only prohibits harassment, assault, and property damage. These acts were never protected by the first amendment.
Stretching the definition of the big oogedy-boogedy word "terrorism" doesn't actually keep anyone safer. It's just intended to intimidate activists and protect the profits of animal exploiters.

Just look at what's going on in St. Paul now. Minnesota passed their own Patriot Act not long after 9/11 -- to keep the good folks of that state safe, supposedly. It was never used to prosecute anyone who plotted to kill Minnesotans. Now they are using it to redefine civil disobedience as terrorism and send at least seven folks to jail for years and years, people who facilitated road blocks and other protests against the RNC this year but had no intention to physically hurt a single person.

Those who commit blatantly illegal acts in the names of animals, such as destruction of property, will continue to do so despite this law. They enter into such acts knowing they are breaking laws already in existence (before the AETA piles on) and they will continue to. This new law is not for them. It is intended to go after aboveground activists, the civil disobedience folks, and label them terrorists, as if they are on the same level as people that flatten buildings in OK or NY City. It is also intended to drive a wedge between the civil disobedience folks and activists who prefer to simply carry signs and pamphlets.

In my opinion, it's pretty much guaranteed that the first time this law is applied, it will be against someone who most people would clearly not think of as a "terrorist," yet that person will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the AETA as if they are a dire threat to the larger society.