It's the winter solstice today as I write this, with a little more than a year of the "Green Scare" business behind me. After months of wading through endless reams of court papers, news accounts and transcripts, and after many long conversations with old friends, I'm convinced its more green spin than green scare.
Most people agree how the story began, with Jake Ferguson recording hours of conversations with fellow arsonists for the feds. I knew Jake from Warner Creek and other Salvage Rider era actions. To hear people talk, he was a scoundrel and a wastrel back then. Don't believe it. Jake was one of the best people around in those days. If a Fed had offered Jake a million bucks to tell where we crapped in the morning, Jake would have punched him in the face.
I don't know what happened to him, but it must have been pretty heavy. I know Jake started using heroin, and a lot of people who use the stuff become addicts who would sell out everyone they ever loved for three bucks and a cigarette. I know he had a lot of law enforcement attention focused on him, and maybe at some point he figured the Feds were going to make their case one way or another—and decided to sell out his friends instead of taking the fall himself. I like to think I wouldn't have done the same, but I ain't gonna swear to it unless it happens to me.
God knows why the elves talked about their crimes with a guy who mysteriously started popping up in cities all over the country—a guy they knew was a user with a bunch of heat on him.
But they did, and once the Feds had the tapes, the gig was up. Looking at life in prison, almost everyone cooperated. Some people evidently gave up a lot; some people little or nothing. Jake and all the cooperating defendants got lumped together as "snitches" by loud-mouthed movement personalities. Thanks to the loose talk, all the defendants are now at risk of being killed in the violent underworld that is Federal prison.
The name-calling is pathetic. Jake comes and goes as he pleases here in the Eugene area. He doesn't have anything to worry about from the wannabe hard cases and their "snitches get stitches" talk. The people doing the name-calling are poseurs who would piss their pants and run the other way if they saw Jake Ferguson on the street. It's easier to weave paranoid fantasies about people who are in prison and can't defend themselves.
Four of the 17 indicted did stand on principle, for a while. At least one of them swore that there "would never be any cooperation with their captors." Not that they were all captives—the one doing the loudest talking was out on a multimillion dollar bail put up by his family. Eventually these folks folded, too, signing deals that promised "to disclose the sum and substance of any conversations defendant had with others," among other things.
The movement spin about "cooperators" versus "non cooperators" is just that—PR spin. Read the "non-cooperating" plea agreements yourself. The "non-cooperators" deal is only good if they give the feds everything they want, just like the "cooperators."
Some people are holding out for evidence of illegal NSA/CIA wiretapping to salvage some martyrdom out of this mess. I've got no doubt the NSA is reading this at the same time you are, but the government didn't do the real damage—the movement COINTELPRO'd itself. The case against the ELF got broken open because the cops exploited drug abuse, bullshit gender politics and egoism, the same kind of crap that continues to this day with the name-calling and finger pointing.
I think this movement got set up by it's own self-appointed spokespeople and opinion leaders. They glorified arson and arsonists for years, mostly for simple ego gratification. Remember Dear Ned Ludd, Earth Night announcements, the EcoFuckers hit list? These guys wanted to be part of movement that was as hard-core as the Black Panthers, or the American Indian Movement or the Irish Republican Army. They wanted people to believe arson was a right-on tactic, and that we could deal with the consequences. But we're not, it isn't, and we can't.
The cooperating defendants didn't do what the radical chic elements of the movement expected of them. Maybe they are all bad people, or maybe the expectations are screwed up. I happen to know they're not bad people.
I can't help but think the real reason the movement talking heads are demonizing the cooperating defendants is because the talking heads have always been about horning in on the glory and sticking other people with the responsibility. They want to feel important—either through an idealistic affinity with arsonist heroes who don't get caught, or through movement martyrs in need of spokespeople and support groups and so forth.
When some of the elves didn't play by the script, copped a plea, and renounced the ELF, the talking heads didn't have heroes to hitch their stars to. So they decided to draw attention to themselves by creating villains.
There are more than a dozen old comrades in jail or on their way. I'm going to judge them entirely on what I know about their character, and how they're coming to terms with the stupid mistakes they made. I'm done letting this movement do my thinking for me.