Breaking the Spell is a really good, independently-produced documentary on the N30 protests against the WTO in Seattle in 1999. Note that anarchist turned ‘eco-terrorist’ turned government informant Lacey Phillabaum makes an appearance (8:12 and elsewhere) in the film, discussing the events in Seattle from an anarchist perspective:
Lacey pled guilty to arson for her role in the May 2001 arson at the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture. The sentencing range in the plea agreement calls for a 3-5 year sentence. Federal prosecutors haven’t recommended a specific sentence within that range. Lacey has court-appointed counsel in the Seattle area, Gil Levy. Gil has done Lacey many good turns and we’re relieved that she’s represented by very able, intelligent and kind counsel. Lacey self reported to a federal facility on January 28, 2007. She was released from custody in March 2008 and is awaiting sentencing, sometime in Spring 2008.
One of the reasons Lacey has been released, and is expected to serve a relatively short sentence, is due to her co-operation with authorities in the prosecutions of others. One of those others is Briana Waters, who was found guilty for her role in the same May 2001 arson for which Lacey was convicted. Briana’s conviction was largely dependent on Lacey’s testimony and that of another informant, Jennifer Kolar. Another arsonist, Jacob Ferguson, turned informant even earlier, in Spring 2003.
According to the terms of Ferguson’s plea deal, he will not be charged for the catalogue of other arsons he was involved in. Ferguson’s plea deal, signed September 17, 2004, does not involve any restitution payments to those affected by the arsons. Ferguson’s formal sentencing has been consistently postponed. It is now expected to occur on April 1, 2008. Prosecutors have recommended that Ferguson spend no time in prison, no fines, and the no restitution clause in his secret plea deal will allow him to hold on to the thousands of dollars he received as payment for his work as a federal informant.
The Green Scare cases have been completely ignored by the Australian media, but there’s a good deal of reportage available elsewhere, most recently by FauxNews (‘FBI: Eco-Terrorism Remains No. 1 Domestic Terror Threat’, March 31, 2008) and, more thoughtfully, in John Vidal’s article for The Guardian (The Green Scare, April 3, 2008). The Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene, Oregon provides a neat summary of the history of the US Gub’mint’s Green Scare campaign here. On Briana’s case, see Is Briana Waters a terrorist?, Tracy Tullis, Salon.com, March 26, 2008.
Oh yeah, last year the US Federal Gub’mint passed the awesomely-titled Violent Radicalisation and Home-Grown Terrorism Prevention Act:
“For purposes of this subtitle:
“(1) Commission.—The term ‘Commission’ means the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism established under section 899C.
“(2) Violent radicalization.—
“The term ‘violent radicalization’ means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.
“(3) Homegrown terrorism.—
“The term ‘homegrown terrorism’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
“(4) Ideologically based violence.—
“The term ‘ideologically based violence’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.”
Among other measures, it includes provision for a Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence:
“The Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish or designate a university-based Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States (hereinafter referred to as ‘Center’) following the merit-review processes and procedures and other limitations that have been previously established for selecting and supporting University Programs Centers of Excellence. The Center shall assist Federal, State, local and tribal homeland security officials through training, education, and research in preventing violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism in the United States. In carrying out this section, the Secretary may choose to either create a new Center designed exclusively for the purpose stated herein or identify and expand an existing Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence so that a working group is exclusively designated within the existing Center of Excellence to achieve the purpose set forth in subsection (b).
Oh yeah (oh yeah), there’s currently 13 men on trial in Melbourne on terrorism charges. Katherine Wilson provides a summary of their case in Overland (Thought-crime and punishment, No.186, Autumn 2007); the case rests largely on speculation regarding what may have been planned by the ‘terrorist cell’ (Karen Kissane, Talk of terror, The Age, March 30, 2008: “The prosecution says they were planning violent jihad, but the 12 men at the centre of Melbourne’s terrorism trial maintain that angry words do not equate to violent deeds. Karen Kissane reports.”).
Note that for two years prior to the trial’s commencement (February 13, 2008 — the men were arrested in November 2005), the 13 were kept in what on March 20, 2008, Justice Bongiorno said were “intolerable” jail and transport conditions in the high-security Acacia Unit at Barwon Prison near Geelong (hence the term ‘Barwon 13’). Not unexpectedly, “two of the men were recently removed from Barwon and were diagnosed with psychiatric problems”. Further, “Dr Douglas Bell, a forensic psychiatrist, told the court Acacia had an austere and restrictive regime that could cause an ordinary person to experience significant psychological and emotional difficulty, affect the ability to concentrate and perhaps trigger serious psychiatric problems. The men’s travel arrangements would add to this, he said” (Ruling today on terror trial, Karen Kissane, The Age, March 31, 2008). See also : Judge temporarily halts Australian terrorist trial over mistreatment of prisoners, Mike Head, wsws, April 2, 2008.