- The October 2001 USA Patriot Act's Section 802 created
the crime of "domestic terrorism" (applicable to US citizens)
for the first time, applying it to persons engaged in acts "dangerous
to human life" in violation of federal or state criminal laws, if
- -- intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
- -- influence government policy by intimidation or coercion;
- -- affect government conduct by mass destruction, assassination
- The Patriot Act gave Washington expansive powers to investigate
and prosecute "terrorism," including environmental and animal
rights activists demonstrating peacefully or engaging in nonviolent civil
disobedience, America's longstanding tradition, now harshly criminalized,
those convicted subject to long-term incarceration.
- For example, in 2001, several prominent Americans engaged
in civil disobedience on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico by unlawfully entering
an airbase to protest against regular Pentagon military exercises, including
bombings. It's now called domestic terrorism to influence government policy.
- Under the Patriot Act's Section 806, with no hearing
or notice, the government may confiscate or freeze all foreign and domestic
assets of any individual, entity, or organization engaged in, planning,
supporting, concealing, or perpetrating any act of domestic or international
terrorism against America - even by protesting nonviolently.
- Other provisions are just as harsh, using vague language
giving authorities wide latitude to twist the law perversely and advantageously,
targeting anyone for anything called terrorism.
- Eric McDavid is one of many victims, serving a 20-year
sentence in federal prison for "thought crime," encarcerated
for his political beliefs, targeted by an FBI undercover informant who
entrapped him unjustly.
- Detailed information on him can be accessed through the
- Previous articles described "green scare,"
the Spirit of Freedom support network calling it "tactics the government
and (enforcement agencies use) to attack" environmental and animal
rights activists and anyone supporting them - called "eco-terrorists"
for engaging in socially responsible protests or civil disobedience against
harmful corporate practices. Opposing them is now criminal, repressive
laws like the Patriot Act putting innocent people at risk, McDavid one
- On January 13, 2006, he, Zachary Jenson and Lauren Weiner
were arrested, charged with "conspiracy to damage and destroy property
by fire and an explosive," the January 25 indictment stating:
- The "defendants....did knowingly and intentionally
agree, combine and conspire with each other, and others known and unknown
to the Grand Jury, to maliciously damage and destroy, and attempt to do
so, by means of fire and an explosive, (1) a building, and personal and
real property of the United States Forest Service, United States Department
of Agriculture (2) a building, and personal and real property of an institution
and organization receiving (government) financial assistance....and (3)
personal and real property used in interstate commerce and in an activity
affecting interstate commerce...."
- Conspiracy alone was charged to commit the following
- -- meeting at a Forresthill, CA residence, purportedly
to plan their attack, no supportive evidence cited;
- -- defendant Weiner ordered a book titled, "Poor
Man's James Bond," supposedly with explosive making instructions;
- -- defendants visited the alleged target sites "to
perform reconnaissance;" and
- -- bought the following items: three bottles of bleach,
a hot-plate, glassware, a gasoline can, a car battery, and three jars of
- Yet prosecutors said these activities violated Title
18, United States Code, Section 844(n), even though engaging in them and
all items bought are legal and nonviolent. Prosecutors cited no incriminating
evidence proving otherwise. How could they? There was no plot or crime,
the FBI inventing guilt by entrapment, a scheme used numerous times before,
snaring innocent victims in the "war on terror."
- A government informant called "Anna" befriended,
encouraged, deceived, and entrapped them, earning at least $75,000 for
her services, according to Sacramento-based FBI Special Agent Nasson Walker.
"She was the glue" said McDavid's lawyer, Mark Reichel, explaining
that "Take away Anna, and (the case) would have scattered in the wind
like so many tumbleweeds."
- In an affidavit filed in the case, Walker said she was
used in at least 12 prior cases, entrapping others like McDavid, Jenson
and Weiner, provoking them to discuss actions they never committed or wanted
to, manufacturing fake crimes. Reichel explained that "when you have
someone poking you and prodding, egging you on," you end up saying
or going through the motions of things you'd never do, but may seem like
it, making defendants vulnerable because jurors are afraid to exonerate.
- McDavid's case is especially troubling, according to
- "There has never been (one like it in America) that
has involved this much entrapment, this much pushing by an informant, by
the US government and by the FBI behind it."
- He was charged with one count of conspiracy, commonly
used against activists and others when no real evidence exists, the idea
being to intimidate juries, ensure convictions, crush dissent and discourage
others. Twice he was denied bail, despite no past criminal record or history
- As a result, pre-trial, he spent two years isolated in
Sacramento County Main Jail in "Total Separation," given no contact
with other prisoners and allowed out of his cell only a few hours weekly.
- McDavid is a vegan. Protesting for acceptable food, he
conducted two hunger strikes, and suffered two bouts of pericarditis -
an inflammation of tissue surrounding the heart, causing chest pain and
long-term complications if not properly treated. Born in October 1977,
he's now 32 years old, a shocking condition for someone that young, something
he never before experienced.
- Under pressure, his co-defendants copped a plea for a
lesser sentence, agreeing to testify against McDavid. His case is clear
entrapment, his trial defense citing it in vain. Despite no incriminating
evidence and proceedings "riddled with errors, lies and blunders,"
jurors convicted him, many later making "damning statements about
the FBI's handling of the case."
- Nonetheless, on May 6, 2008, he was sentenced to 19 years,
seven months in prison, equivalent to a 2nd degree murder judgment in some
states. McDavid committed no crime yet got, up to that time, the longest
ever Green Scare punishment, increased by Terrorism Enhancements (TEs)
- used against defendants trying to influence or coerce government policy,
an act of honor, not a crime, when challenging lawless, harmful practices.
- In February 2009, animal rights activist Marie Mason
received 21 years, 10 months and a $4 million dollar fine (another travesty
of justice), an article on her case accessed through the following link:
- In June 2001, environmental activist Jeff Luers was sentenced
to 22 years, eight months for burning three SUVs - to raise awareness how
gas-guzzling vehicles exacerbate global warming. No one was hurt, $40,000
in damages resulted, and the vehicles were refurbished and sold.
- A political prisoner, Luers appealed in January 2002,
his hearing held in November 2005, and on February 14, 2007 the Appeals
Court remanded his case to the Circuit Court for resentencing. On February
28, 2008, it was reduced to 10 years, a hopeful sign for McDavid, Mason
and others like them, wrongfully imprisoned for their activism and honor.
- Calling his sentence "fair, just, and reasonable,"
Judge Morrison C. England found McDavid's talk and items bought "very
serious....with respect to the disruption of the Government....There was
no question that this....was a conspiracy, and (its) object (was) federal
buildings or locations....this is a new world after September 11, 2001...."
- "So when taking all of these factors into consideration,
it is the judgment and sentence of this Court that in accordance with the
Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, that the defendant, Eric McDavid, will be
sentenced to 235 months in federal prison. (He) will also pay a special
assessment of $100 immediately....Upon release from imprisonment, Mr. McDavid
will be placed on supervised release for a term of 36 months."
- Imprisoned at FCI Victorville, Medium II, Adelanto, CA,
McDavid's appealing his conviction and sentence.
- A Final Comment
- On August 9, the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court
of Appeals heard McDavid's oral arguments, focused mainly on "the
incorrect written response to a question the jurors asked during deliberations....the
oral answer (given) was the complete opposite from the written" one,
after which jurors quickly reached a guilty verdict.
- Afterwards, however, the deception outraged juror Diane
- "During deliberations, we asked the court to please
clarify for the jury the issue of whether Anna was a government agent,
and if so, when did she become one. The written answer....stated 'no' that
she was not a government agent, yet we were told orally that she was."
- "With the written response of 'no,' and after reading
the other written responses to the court, we ended our consideration of
the issue of entrapment, the vote (being) 7 - 5 to consider the entrapment
issue as a defense. Once the written response advised Anna was not a government
agent, we then changed to a guilty verdict soon thereafter."
- To prove criminal conspiracy, prosecutors must show McDavid
conspired with one or more others. His codefendants, however, absolved
him, testifying that no illegal actions were planned. As a result, it was
his word against Anna's, an FBI provocateur, paid to entrap innocent victims
prosecutors want to convict.
- The presiding appeals judge expressed interest, having
previously been involved in reversing a sentence because of erroneous jury
instructions. Defense counsel was hopeful, noting other important arguments
also raised and likely wait before a decision - on average six months to
a year, a long time to perpetuate injustice never easy to reverse in a
climate of fear, police state terror, pervasive spying, entrapment, and
- It's "a new world after September 11, 2001,"
not a fair or just one.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the
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