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How the Bombing Helped the FBI
I've had to try to explain to myself: why did this happen?
[... Most activists thought the Press Democrat had been pressured by L-P, or MAXXAM -- it never occurred to us that it would be the FBI ...]

NEW SETTLER: And that leads credence to the most prevalent theory these days, that the bomb comes out of the FBI.

JUDI: Well, there is this other aspect: I think my activities came at the intersection of two campaigns... We were talking some about the pain. The bombing absolutely ruined my life. It ruined me physically. I don't know what it is going to be like to grow old with these injuries; I already know what it feels like to be eighty. And it has ruined my opportunities -- what I can do. I have to focus on this no matter how hard it is to do. It's very much changed who I am and what I can do with my life...

And it's hard to contemplate. Why did this happen to me? I really agree with Bruce Anderson. I don't think I was enough of a threat to the power structure to merit this kind of action. I think the attack on me was way out of scale to the real threat that I posed to the timber industry or to the capitalist system. And I've had to try to explain to myself: why did this happen?

We have the privatization of COINTELPRO. The tactics that used to be used by the secret police, are being used by private industry
I think my activities came at the intersection of two campaigns: one of the campaigns was timber industry and Wise Use, which, both, historically are riddled with thugs -- the labor movement -- all through the history of timber.

I think it goes with all the extractive corporations: the worse they do to the earth, the worse they do to the people. And the timber industry has a very long history of physical brutality to people who would oppose them.

I think I was targeted by the timber industry because I was posing somewhat of a threat to them by exposing what was happening here in the redwoods, bringing it into a national forum so people could see it. And I think I was posing a threat to them by building alliances with the workers, by defining the problem as the community vs. these out-of-town corporations, instead of environmentalists vs. loggers.

I think I posed a threat to them just by restating the question in that manner. So, I think I was a target of the timber industry's own discrediting campaign. See, not only do we have a resurgence of COINTELPRO in this country, we have the privatization of COINTELPRO. The tactics that used to be used by the secret police, are being used by private industry.

But in addition to that, I also think my activities intersected a separate FBI campaign to discredit Earth First! This campaign was focused in Arizona. In Arizona, they spent over two million dollars to infiltrate and disrupt the group over a period of more than two years. The target, in particular was Dave Foreman. They wanted to discredit Dave Foreman for the same reasons that the timber industry wanted to discredit me: he was taking these very radical ideas of deep ecology (profoundly radical ideas which question the foundations of this corporate/capitalist society), and he was popularizing these ideas. He was inspiring people into a mass movement -- into a very decentralized mass movement that had its own energies separate and apart from him.

So he was a threat, and they wanted to neutralize him. And they wanted to neutralize him by discrediting him and by discrediting Earth First!.

There is this chilling photograph of Dave Foreman, bare but for his skivvies, still in his bed, several long assault weapons pointed at his head. The FBI mobbed his bedroom to arrest him. Ergo: he must be a dangerous terrorist! Shades of the campaign against the Black Panthers.

JUDI: Yes, they wanted to tar him. And they had a hard time implicating him in the power line thing. They infiltrated the Arizona group (and the COINTELPRO word for this is "misdirect." They don't make up what they do; they take your real flaws, your real weaknesses ... and Earth First! tended to this blind advocacy of monkeywrenching without really analyzing what is really appropriate with public support: this very naive, kind of mythological belief that a few people sneaking around in the desert or the woods can bring about massive social change.

Why was it so important they target nuclear power plants? Because in the FBI's own regulations, they are allowed to designate you a "terrorist group" is if you threaten nuclear facilities
These were weaknesses of the Earth First! ideology. It was really kind of a romanticism that Earth First! was based on. And the FBI exploited these things, took the real tendencies of Earth First! and misdirected them into something that would be discrediting. When Earth First! acted to preserve sacred places, they inspired people and the movement grew. But the FBI misdirected this into "dropping power lines" and "attacking civilization" (and "attacking nuclear power plants" in particular. ) That was the FBI's idea. That was not Peg Millet or Mark Davis. They weren't targeting nuclear power plants. That was Michael Fein's idea, the nuclear power plant.

Fein who was sent in by the FBI to infiltrate Earth First!

JUDI: And why was it so important they target nuclear power plants? Because in the FBI's own regulations (which I have now read in the bomb school manual) one of the reasons they are allowed to designate you a "terrorist group" is if you threaten nuclear facilities.

So they took this Earth First! group dedicated to the preservation of wilderness and preserving sacred places, and they turned it into dropping power lines and attacking nuclear facilities.

The FBI agent provocateur infiltrated the group, won their trust, and then led them to take down this power line in the desert, with the FBI waiting to pounce on them, and they were busted in the act. And of the core group who took down this power line -- the core group consisted of five people -- two of them were FBI agents.

So I describe this as a joint FBI-Earth First! action. [laughs]

I suspect that the same is true in Santa Cruz: the timing of the Santa Cruz power lines, the methodology by which it was attached to us, how it was used to vilify public Earth First!ers who were using public, non-violent mass organizing techniques. The Santa Cruz power lines came down the night of Earth Night Action -- which was a response to Earth Day and corporate co-optation.

What the real Earth First! did (which, I thought was stupid, by the way, and I boycotted the action), was to gather their crack team of tree climbers from all over the Northcoast, and they were going to climb the Golden Gate Bridge and hang a banner.

To me, that was a tremendous risk to take for a mere banner hanging. I think direct action needs to be focused on stopping production at the point of production, and actions that just depend on media to send a message aren't worth taking that kind of risk. So I didn't participate. But that was the Earth First! Earth Day response.

Well the night before this, these power lines all of a sudden go down. And in the media coverage of the two events, they are absolutely blended. The stories about Earth First! climbing the Golden Gate bridge are accompanied by photos of downed power lines, and the two became blended.

Likewise, the two are blended in the FBI files. The FBI's file on the Golden Gate bridge climb is captioned: "Earth Night Action group" (which is the name of the group that took down the power lines in Santa Cruz) and they treat the people who climb the Golden Gate bridge as if they were the power line droppers.

These were very separate actions. In fact, they happened so close together, I'm not even sure if anybody could have physically participated in both of them. Because the people who climbed the bridge, met the night before. They stayed in a motel in the City; they planned their action. They weren't out dropping power lines in Santa Cruz; they were getting psyched up to climb this bridge and practicing what their different roles would be. Yet these two actions were blended.

And I don't think the Santa Cruz power lines was an all-FBI action, because explosives weren't used. In Arizona it was called "Operation Thermcon" by the FBI. Now what would that mean? 'Thermite Conspiracy 'or 'Con-Them-Into It.' -- like AbScam.

We've asked them what does Thermcon mean?

"I don't know. It's just a word."

How about: 'Con them into using Thermite.' The two FBI agents talk constantly about thermite: "We can get thermite. " ... "Let's use thermite." They tried to get them to use explosives. Even the "evil" book, Ecodefense, says, "Don't use explosives. Stay away from guns. Stay away from explosives." The real Earth First!, even those that advocate the worst of the monkeywrenching, did not believe in using explosives, and the FBI was trying to bring that element in.

So, I think if the Earth Night Action group that took down the Santa Cruz power lines had actually been an all-FBI action, they would have blown up the power lines. Instead they sawed them down. Very low tech. Hand saws and cold chisels.

I think that Earth First! was being targeted in the same way that the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement were -- although I don't think Earth First! ever represented the threat that either AIM or the Black Panthers did. I've called it the "Iraq Effect," where they've run out worthy adversaries, so they now use overwhelming force against really small adversaries. I mean, if there are not terrorists there are no reasons for the Terrorist Squad to exist.

It's a job program.

JUDI: Right. So they had to invent a terrorist threat, and we were it.

NEXT: Targeting Earth First!
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Albion Monitor January 13, 1997 (

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