People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is walking, talking, and quacking like a very strange duck. In a stunning statement rivaling warnings issued by the Anarchist Black Cross Network or the White Aryan Resistance, PETA’s leadership is counseling members to avoid any contact with law enforcement, including the FBI and investigators connected with the newly created Department of Homeland Security.
In an open letter to activists yesterday, PETA co-founder and president Ingrid Newkirk advised animal-rights zealots: "It is dangerous to engage in even the most innocuous-seeming discourse with the FBI/Homeland Security/a local detective."
Newkirk, loathe to concede that her organization is involved with anything illegal, insists that Americans have "the freedom to associate with whomever you choose, and the right to say what you believes [sic] in without fear of reprisal." Fair enough — but PETA’s right to oppose meat producers or medical research professionals does not include the right to blow up their trucks or burn their buildings down (as PETA’s allies in the Animal Liberation Front have done on many occasions).
And just how has Newkirk exercised her own "freedoms"? If a 1995 U.S. Government Sentencing Memorandum is any indication, she just might personally be guilty of aiding a terrorist in the commission of a felony.
It seems PETA was involved in the multi-million-dollar arson at Michigan State University that resulted in a 57-month prison term for Animal Liberation Front bomber Rodney Coronado. At Coronado’s sentencing hearing, U.S. Attorney Michael Dettmer said that Newkirk arranged ahead of time to have Coronado send her a pair of FedEx packages from Michigan — one on the day before he burned down an MSU research lab, and the other afterward [see pages 8 and 9 of the official court record].
The first FedEx, according to the Sentencing Memorandum, was delivered to a woman named Maria Blanton, "a longtime PETA member who had agreed to accept the first Federal Express package from Coronado after being asked to do so by Ingrid Newkirk" [emphasis added]. The FBI intercepted the second package, which had been sent to the same address. It contained documents that Coronado stole before lighting his firebombs, as well as "a videotape of the perpetrator of the MSU crime, disguised in a ski mask."
This sort of legal defiance quite rightly lands people in jail all the time. Even those accused of helping eco-terrorists and other home-grown bad guys. A search warrant executed at Maria Blanton’s home turned up evidence that PETA’s other co-founder, Alex Pacheco, had been planning burglaries and break-ins along with Rodney Coronado. At Blanton’s home, the feds seized "surveillance logs; code names for Coronado, Pacheco, and others; burglary tools; two-way radios; night vision goggles; [and] phony identification for Coronado and Pacheco."
In this light, perhaps it’s easy to see why PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk is trying to keep a lid on animal rights activists who might decide to talk with the authorities. When you’re hooked up with people who burglarize legitimate businesses and burn down buildings, you have an awful lot to lose.
One can almost hear a booming Tony Soprano in Newkirk’s warnings: "You don’t talk to the cops, you don’t talk to nobody. You understand? Fuggedaboutit!"