Press Release

Richard Berman’s written testimony to Congress

(Washington, February 12, 2002) – Richard Berman Transcript: Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, my name is Richard Berman. I am the Executive Director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. The Center does not accept and has never received government funds.

On behalf of American restaurant operators and food producers, I would like to thank you for holding this hearing today. Eco-terrorism is indeed alive and well in the United States of America, and it shares a common heritage with violent animal-rights extremism. These radical movements have been responsible for well over 1,000 documented criminal acts in the U.S., most of which would be prosecuted as felonies if the perpetrators could be brought to justice.

I am not talking about peaceful protest, pickets, sign waving, slogan chanting, or forms of civil disobedience that are protected by the First Amendment. Rather, America’s present environmental and animal-rights terrorists have committed arsons, assaults, vandalism on a massive scale, and a host of other property crimes that cripple food producers and resource providers, and occasionally lay waste to entire restaurants.

On September 11th of last year, on the very day America mourned the loss of thousands of lives to foreign terrorists, our own home-grown version (the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, known as “ELF” and “ALF”) took joint credit for firebombing a McDonald’s restaurant in Tucson, Arizona.

There is no doubt now, and the FBI concurs, that the Earth Liberation Front is associated with the Animal Liberation Front. Special Agent David Szady (now the U.S. counterintelligence executive) has told CNN that “by any sense or any definition, this is a true domestic terrorism group, that uses criminal activity to further their political agenda.”

During the past three years alone, ELF and ALF have claimed responsibility for smashing bank windows, torching a chicken feed truck, burning a horse corral at a Bureau of Land Management facility, firebombing dealer lots full of sport utility vehicles, destroying valuable scientific laboratory equipment and many years worth of irreplaceable research documents, “spiking” trees in the Pacific Northwest, and even setting bombs under meat delivery trucks.

There should be no sympathy for intentionally committed felonies of this magnitude. Eco-terror and animal-rights crimes have become everyday events in America, yet they are among our most under-reported and least-punished offenses.

Members of the Subcommittee, on rare occasions the criminals responsible for these violent and unlawful acts are captured. Just two weeks ago a pair of animal-rights terrorists were sentenced to prison terms for attempting to blow up a dairy truck near San Jose, California. They were caught red-handed, with home-made bombs just as deadly as those being exploded by other terrorists in the Middle East. But the vast majority of crimes like these go unpunished. The underground ELF and ALF even have the gall to brag publicly about their felonies. ALF actually released a report in January, claiming responsibility for 137 crimes in 2001, and causing an estimated $17.3 million in damage.

ALF and ELF won’t stop with damage to people and businesses with whom they disagree. Rather, they are aggressively recruiting new criminals to their vicious gang. Incredibly, the group’s leaders have begun to distribute “how-to” manuals on the Internet, describing how to build bombs and incendiary devices, how to destroy fields of genetically-engineered food crops, and how to commit “arson,” “thievery,” and other felonies without leaving clues at the crime scene. There is even a volume on the easiest way to sink a ship.

Any 10-year-old with a computer can download much of this reading material. For a few dollars and the cost of postage, ALF “spokesperson” David Barbarash will mail the rest of the materials to anyone who asks. Mr. Chairman, I have submitted a copy of Mr. Barbarash’s disturbing catalog for the record.

Equally troubling is the extent to which some eco-terrorists and animal-rights criminals have managed to garner support, both philosophical and financial, from above-ground activist organizations, including those that enjoy the same tax benefits as our nation’s churches and universities.

Between 1994 and 1995, for instance, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals gave over $70,000 to an Animal Liberation Front criminal named Rodney Coronado, who was convicted of arson, a felony, in connection with the $1.7 million firebombing of a Michigan State University research facility. This amount, by the way, is more than ten times the total that the same organization (PETA) devoted to animal shelters during those two years. In addition, both PETA and its president, Ingrid Newkirk, are acknowledged financial supporters of an organization called No Compromise, which operates on behalf of, and for the “underground” supporters of the Animal Liberation Front.

PETA raised over $15 million last year from the general public, all of it tax-exempt. When will PETA be held accountable?

Another eco-criminal, Dave Foreman, pled guilty in 1991 to felony conspiracy in a plot to blow up the power lines of three nuclear power generating stations. Mr. Foreman was a co-founder of the radical “Earth First!” organization, the group from which the Earth Liberation Front split during a 1992 meeting in the United Kingdom. Among its other claims to fame, Earth First! actually published the newsletter articles (in the Earth First! Journal) from which “Unabomber” Ted Kaczinsky chose his last two victims.

An organization called the Ruckus Society was started by another Earth First! co-founder named Mike Roselle. This group was largely responsible for the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle, which ended in mass rioting and the destruction of Starbucks and McDonald’s restaurants. The Ruckus Society trains young activists in the techniques of “monkeywrenching” which, when applied, result in property crimes of enormous financial cost.

The Ruckus Society and the Rainforest Action Network (another outfit founded by Mr. Roselle) are tax-exempt organization that have enjoyed contributions from such mainstream sources as Ted Turner and Ben & Jerry’s. When will this breeding ground for environmental criminals be held accountable?

Ruckus, by the way, also gets funding from a San Francisco outfit called the Tides Foundation, which distributes other foundations’ money while shielding the identity of the actual donors. Our tax law permits this sort of money-laundering. If the public is prevented from learning where a tax-exempt organization like the Ruckus Society gets their money, then the legal loopholes that permit foundations like Tides to operate as it does should be closed.

Mr. Chairman, these are all serious charges that I am making, and I urge this Committee to fully investigate the damage that ALF, ELF, and other like-minded terrorist groups have caused to American businesses, American livelihoods, and the American psyche. I would also urge the appropriate Congressional committee to explore the tax-exempt status of groups that have helped to fund directly or indirectly these domestic terrorists.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.

Inventory Of Exhibits to Mr. Berman’s Testimony

  1. Joint “communiqué” from the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, issued on September 11, 2001,
    taking responsibility for the fire-bombing of a McDonald’s restaurant in Tucson, AZ,
    click for source
  2. New York Post article from June 14, 2001 describing significant damage to a Bank of New York branch in Suffolk County, NY
  3. Earth Liberation Front “communiqué” taking responsibility for torching a U.S. Bureau of Land Management horse corral facility
    near Susanville, CA,
    click for source
  4. AP story from July 21, 2001, linking ELF criminals to the arsons of a police station and a Chevrolet sport utility vehicle dealer.
    One suspect, Jeffrey Luers, was later convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison for crimes including the SUV attack.
  5. ELF “communiqué” related to a tree-spiking crime in the Nez Perce National Forest (November 5, 2001),
    click for source
  6. ALF press release related to the arson of a chicken feed truck owned by Rose Hill Farms in North Vernon, IN (July 4, 2000),
    click for source
  7. ALF press release related to the destruction of nearly $1 million in property at an agricultural biotechnology laboratory on the campus
    of Michigan State University (December 31, 1999),
    click for source
  8. AP story detailing (August 13, 1991) how Earth First! co-founder Dave Foreman pled guilty to felony conspiracy in connection with a
    plot to blow up power lines serving three nuclear facilities. He was given a suspended sentence, and his felony conviction was replaced
    with a misdemeanor plea upon the completion of his probation.
  9. Article from the San Francisco Chronicle describing the sentencing of ALF terrorists Peter Schnell and Matthew Whyte for the attempted
    arson of trucks belonging to a dairy distributor (January 29, 2002),
    click for source
  10. Scripps-Howard news story about an Earth Liberation Front attack on a warehouse used to store biotech cotton, published in the Sacramento Bee
    on March 5, 2001. The story describes, among other things, the 1992 spin-off of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) from Earth First!
  11. Excerpt from the transcript of the “guilty plea” hearing of convicted “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski, held in Sacramento, California on
    January 22, 1998 (United States vs. Theodore Kaczynski). Kaczynski willingly agreed with the prosecution’s assertion that he used an article
    published in the Earth First! Journal to choose at least one of the victims of his fatal mail bombs,
    click for source
  12. Excerpt from an Internet web page titled “About No Compromise,” archived on May 15, 1999. No Compromise is an organization which publishes a
    journal on behalf of “underground” members of the Animal Liberation Front. Among the group’s “Steering Committee” is at least one acknowledged
    ALF terrorist. Among the group’s listed financial supporters are Ingrid Newkirk and her organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA),
    click for source
  13. A page from the 1995 annual tax return (form 990) of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), showing a $45,200 payment for the
    “support committee” of Rodney Coronado, a felon. Mr. Coronado was convicted of arson in federal court for the 1992 firebombing of a Michigan
    State University research lab.
  14. Another page from PETA’s 1995 annual tax return, showing a $25,000 “loan” to Rodney Coronado’s father, Ray Coronado. In a telephone call on
    February 5, 2002, the elder Coronado acknowledged that the money was a gift, not a loan, and was used for his son’s ultimately failed legal defense.
  15. Cover page for PETA’s tax return (form 990) for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2000 (the most recent year available). It shows a one-year
    income of over $15.8 million, all of it tax exempt. In that same year, PETA spent over $17 million, and still had $4 million left over in assets.
    This form is available on-line from the California Attorney General’s Office “charities search” web site,
    click for source
  16. Tax return pages from 1999 and 2000 showing $592,000 in payments from The Foundation to Support Animal Protection (FSAP) to the Physicians Committee
    for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). These were the only grants made by FSAP during those years. FSAP is housed at PETA’s Norfolk, Virginia headquarters,
    and is co-chaired by PETA president Ingrid Newkirk and PCRM president Neal Barnard.
  17. Letter (2 pages) co-signed by PCRM president Neal Barnard and former ALF “spokesperson” Kevin Kjonaas. Mr. Kjonaas is presently the leader of
    “Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty” (SHAC), an animal-rights organization which has been responsible for arsons, physical assaults, millions of
    dollars in property damage, and over a hundred other criminal acts in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
  18. One page from a “Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty” (SHAC) Internet web site, advocating the harassment of specific employees of Quilcap Corporation,
    because the company owns a 10% stake in Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). Information is given on the targets’ physical description, spouses,
    family pets, unlisted phone numbers, and even license plate numbers,
    click for source
  19. Descriptions from two SHAC web pages wherein ALF terrorists take credit for vandalism, breaking-and-entering, cradit-card fraud, and grand larceny.
    These crimes were perpetrated against Mr. Warren Stephens, whose investment company bailed out Huntingdon Life Sciences after its British
    investors had been so terrorized by SHAC that they pulled their financing of HLS. While ALF took credit for these crimes, SHAC publicized them,
    suggesting that the two are connected if not identical. Kevin Kjonaas leads SHAC. He was previously the “spokesperson” for ALF,
    click for source 1,
    click for source 2
  20. A copy of the “Black Cat Distro” catalog (in its entirety), created and circulated on the Internet by ALF “spokesperson” David Barbarash.
    Mr. Barbarash sells arson manuals, how-to guides on building incendiary devices, handbooks on destroying biotech food crops, and other
    publications that advocate illegal activity. Some of these materials are written by avowed ELF and ALF members; others were written by
    Earth First! members, including that group’s founders. While Mr. Barbarash lives in Canada, he does accept orders from the United States,
    click for source
  21. Internet web site pages showing two $50,000 payments (1997 and 1999) from the (Ted) Turner Foundation to the Ruckus Society,
    click for source 1,
    click for source 2

  22. Internet web page showing a $100,000 payment from the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to the Ruckus Society, during the year 2001,
    click for source
  23. Page from the 1999 annual tax return of the Tides Foundation, showing a $5,000 payout to the Ruckus Society. Because of the Tides’ nature as a
    pass-through grantor, there is no legal way to determine where this money originated. Tides isn’t legally obligated to tell,
    click for source
  24. A published profile of the Ruckus Society from, including quotes from its leaders about the nature and necessity of violence.
    Mr. Berman’s organization publishes this web site,
    click for source
  25. Transcript of a Fox News Channel segment (February 12, 2001) dealing with the tactics of the Rainforest Action Network, an organization founded by
    Mike Roselle, a former Earth First!er who also co-founded the Ruckus Society,
    click for source
  26. “Government’s Sentencing Memorandum” (in its entirety) from The United States of America vs. Rodney Coronado. Submitted July 31, 1995 by United
    States Attorney Michael H. Dettmer. The Hon. Richard A. Enslen presided,
    click for source
  27. “Setting Fires With Electrical Timers: An Earth Liberation Front Guide” (in its entirety), a how-to manual on building and detonating incendiary devices.
    This document is available on the Internet and can be printed by any 10-year-old with a computer,
    click for source
  28. End-of-year report (in its entirety) released by ALF “spokesperson” David Barbarash on January 12, 2002. The report smugly detailing 137 crimes
    committed by both ELF and ALF terrorists, which resulted in an estimated $17.3 million in damages. Note: this is ALF’s estimate. Actual property
    damage totals are likely several times higher,
    click for source

Founded in 1996, the Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices. For more information, visit


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