In this hard-hitting debut, journalist Potter likens the Justice Department targeting of environmentalists today to McCarthyism in the 1950s.
The author argues that culture war is “at the heart of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, from the Red Scare to the War on Terrorism.” Citing historian Richard Hofstadter, he describes this as “ ‘the paranoid style in American politics’…the eternal fear…that the American way of life is under attack.” Potter’s concern with the targeting of environmental activists began with a personal experience. Although he became a vegan when he was a student at the University of Texas and joined a few activist groups to protest economic sanctions in Iraq, in 2002 he was working as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune. On a whim, he participated in a canvassing campaign organized by a group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, whose aim was to close down the laboratory of Huntingdon Life Sciences, guilty of “repeated animal welfare violations.” The organizers were arrested for trespass, and shortly thereafter two FBI agents appeared at Potter’s apartment requesting information about the group. He was told that if he refused to cooperate with them, his name would be included on the domestic terrorist list. The author describes how the experience marked the beginning of a personal and political journey that led him to question why environmentalists were being treated as domestic threats on par with terrorists. Though he does not deny that animal-rights groups have been guilty of crimes such as arson, he charges that different standards are used to judge anti-abortion activists and environmentalists “not because of the nature of the crime but because of the politics of the crime.” Potter left the Tribune and became actively involved in the legal defense of so-called “eco-terrorists.”
A shocking exposé of judicial overreach.