« Great primer on federal compassionate release | Main | Tennessee execution disrupted by lethal injection scrummage »

May 5, 2007

Should ecoterrorists be sentenced like terrorists?

This AP article discusses an interesting case in which the government is pushing for a terrorism sentencing enhancement to apply to trouble-making environmentalists.  Here are some details:

A sentencing memorandum filed Friday by federal prosecutors says that arson and sabotage by 10 radical environmentalists convicted of setting fires across five Western states amounted to terrorism.

Six men and four women are awaiting sentencing before U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken beginning May 22.  All were convicted for their roles in the five-state arson campaign that left timber company offices, dozens of SUVs, meat companies, federal installations and a ski resort in smoldering ruins.  The government estimates damages at more than $40 million.

But Eugene attorney Kelly Beckley, who represents defendant Daniel McGowan, told The Oregonian newspaper in Portland that the defendants are neither "monster terrorists" nor "Osama bin Laden and friends."... 

The motive of the saboteurs, who often channeled claims of responsibility to news media, was to punish corporations, the government and symbols of capitalism for harming the air, forests and animals for profit.  Supporters say the arson was intended only to cause economic harm and nobody has been injured.

But federal law and sentencing guidelines define terrorism as crimes intended to influence or affect government conduct by such measures as coercion or retaliation.   The government's sentencing memo devotes dozens of pages to describing how the 10 defendants meet that test, including "an overarching conspiracy with the purpose, among other things, 'to influence and affect the conduct of government' and others by means of violent acts, and 'to retaliate against the conduct of government' and others."

May 5, 2007 at 08:57 AM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Should ecoterrorists be sentenced like terrorists?:


Maybe I'm old fashion, but isn't there something wrong with DoJ's seeming policy that anyone whose politics the administration doesn't like is accused of being a terrorist or terrorist sympathizer, yet those who engage in the same acts but the administration likes are either ordinary criminals or even freedom fighters.

Posted by: anonymouse | May 5, 2007 10:19:21 AM

I don't know about that. People who attack abortion clinics and providers get the book thrown at them by this administration. Much as I despise abortion, the bottom line is that people get to have them, and people who violently interfere with that right are nothing more than criminals who seek to impose their views on others through violence. The death penalty is an appropriate punishment for these people, and I would support it in some instances where no life is actually taken.

These eco-warriors are terrorists. Their goals are similar to those who attack abortion providers . . . . to use violence to force people to not do lawful things. These people are arrogant bastards who think that they get to tell the world what to do. They belong behind bars for a long long time.

Posted by: federalist | May 7, 2007 2:21:54 AM

Just out of curiosity, can you (or someone that knows what they are talking about) provide an example of how an abortion clinic bomber would have gotten a lower sentence if, for example, he bombed a shopping mall?

If you can't provide specifics, don't bother answering.

Posted by: S.cotus | May 7, 2007 12:12:20 PM

I don't get the import of the question. What difference does it make? Does anyone seriously argue that violence against abortion providers is not taken seriously by this Administration?

Posted by: federalist | May 7, 2007 12:39:41 PM

I wonder what you mean by "thrown the book at"? "The book" makes abortion clinic bombing a crime, and you seem to be implying that they are prosecuting it more vigorously then, say, someone prosecuted under 18 USC Sec. 844(i).

Posted by: S.cotus | May 7, 2007 1:05:33 PM

I wasn't. Just saying that the law was being enforced. Take a look at the first post.

Posted by: federalist | May 7, 2007 1:53:28 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB