The Green Scare and Civil Liberties


John Vidal of the Guardian looks at last month's torching of "green" McMansions and asks a lot of questions, like " The Earth Liberation Front was to blame. But was it? Does it even exist? And why is the Bush government intent on casting 'eco-terrorists' as public enemy number one?

He writes "According to the FBI, "eco-terrorism", or "ecotage", is now the number one domestic terrorism threat in the US, greater than that of rightwing extremists, anti-abortion groups and animal rights organisations, and on a par with al-Qaida. The US building industry, rightwing political groups and the mainstream media all leapt to condemn the ELF after the arson....."Vidal continues:

"But the jury on the McMansions arson is very much out. Instead of striking fear into the heart of middle America, the incident has revealed growing civil liberty fears about the US government's redefinition of terrorism, and a breakdown of trust in the authorities. Although rightwing commentators and libertarian bloggers have used the attack as ammunition in their ideological war against environmentalists and the left, few others think it is so simple. The more anyone looks into the arson, the more they suspect that it has probably got more to do with fraud or political smearing and dirty tricks than with terrorism.

Letter writers to the Seattle press and websites like and Grist say it is suspicious that the attack on the McMansions should take place in the middle of America's most serious downturn in the housing market in 30 years, with a recession looming and properties almost impossible to sell. People are deliberately setting fire to their own properties to escape mortgage misery, they say, and only one of the houses on the Street of Dreams is said to have been sold."

The article then gets very political.

"The new targeting of environmentalists and what some say is a hysterical exaggeration of the seriousness of eco-terrorism is widely seen as the Bush administration's payback for the humiliation piled on the US and its corporations by environmentalists at the Seattle World Trade Organisation talks in 1999. The national guard had to be called out, the talks were abandoned and, as tear gas drifted around the city, US policies were ridiculed around the world."

A long and fascinating article that would never be found in a mainstream North American paper at ::The Guardian

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