Thursday, November 10, 2005

US Rep Tom Petri Introduces Bill Against Animal Rights Extremists

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI) introduced legislation Friday to strengthen laws against animal rights extremists who use violence and intimidation to further their cause.

"It's fine to advocate humane treatment of animals, but animal rights extremists use what they call 'direct action' which includes death threats, vandalism, animal releases and bombings," said Petri. "Their actions are calculated to aggressively intimidate and harass those identified as targets, including research and biomedical laboratories, fur farms and restaurants."

"The mindset of these people is exemplified by Dr. Jerry Vlasak, spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, who has said, 'I think for five lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, two million, 10 million non-human lives,'" Petri said. "That's incitement to murder."

Petri said that Vlasak's comment was made at the Animal Rights 2003 National Conference on August 3, 2003. As recently as this past October 26 he defended that remark at a Senate hearing.

Petri said that current federal law, including the Animal Enterprises Protection Act, is inadequate to address the threat posed by violent acts committed by animal rights activists. "These people have recognized the limits and ambiguities in the statute and have tailored their campaigns to exploit them," he said.

Petri said his Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2005 would address gaps in the law that keep authorities from using it effectively. Drafted with technical assistance from counter-terrorism experts at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the bill provides for penalties for intentional economic disruption or damage and for intentionally causing bodily harm or placing a person in reasonable fear of death or bodily harm.

The bill also specifically addresses the "tertiary targeting" tactic employed by extremists by prohibiting intentional damage of property belonging to a person or organization with ties to an animal enterprise. The legislation will provide federal authorities with the necessary tools to help prevent and better investigate and prosecute terrorism in support of animal rights.

Original cosponsors of the Animal Rights Protection Act of 2005 are: U.S. Representatives F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-MI), Chris Cannon (R-UT), Henry Bonilla (R-TX), Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), C.L. "Butch" Otter (R-ID), Dan Boren (D-OK), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and John T. Doolittle (R-CA).

Office of Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI)

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