Sunday, February 28, 2010

Goldcorp in Guatemala and the limits of the MDGs

Goldcorp in Guatemala and the limits of the MDGs

"The Marlin mine has divided our town, harassed protesters, and made us afraid for the health of our families."

"Is this economic development? Could Goldcorp do this in Canada?"

In this video, Aniseto López and Sister Maudilia López Cardona from the "Front in Defence of San Miguel Ixtahuacán" (FREDEMI) talk briefly about Goldcorp's Marlin mine, its [...]

You may view the latest post at

Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Week from Indian Country Today

Wabanaki nations to add Indian casino question on November ballot
INDIAN ISLAND, Maine – The Wabanaki nations are seizing a new opportunity to establish an Indian casino in Maine. Read more »


Yakama Nation investigates death of 11 horses
Pine Ridge highway to benefit from $10 million grant
Arizona Supreme Court OKs water rights settlement
Crow Creek Sioux Tribe launches telephone system
Tribes target grandchildren in planning
Wabanaki nations to add Indian casino question on November ballot
Encouraged by friends, family and music
Squaxin Island pays tribute to rare whale
Novel by James Welch will be movie
Cherokee Nation plays active role in National Drug Control Strategy
Southeast Native Alaska radio station to launch
SBC students visit Capitol Hill
Calif. race-based admissions law challenged anew
Billy Frank Jr. featured on state poster
Health care grants awarded to six communities
Feds will invest in Tulalip interchange
Samish help fund trestle rebuild
Keetoowah Cherokees mourn Hastings Shade
NorthWest Indian News now Native Heartbeat
Congress shake-ups affect Indian country
How to spot a genuine US Census worker
Millions collected in mineral royalties
Indian arts protection bill passes House
Justice streamlines Indian grants process
New Treasury bonding authority announced


Great Lakes


Barreiro: Benjamin Franklin: Respect in political discourse is good Native value

Calm, deliberate discussion that respects a speaker and disallows interruption is a longstanding American value. Benjamin Franklin noted it early among American Indians and wondered if it constituted a better system than the mocking, catcall style of the British House of Commons. Read more »

For news you won't get from Indian Country Today, see Censored News.

Friends Digest Vol. 4, No. 2

"I would like to ask you why when we speak you do not listen, and when you listen, you do not hear, and when you hear us, you do not choose to understand what we say. This is one time that I ask you to listen carefully and understand what we have to say."--Frank Fools Crow

* Call to Action: Parole Letters *

Mr. Peltier's appeal of the August parole decision is underway and a response is expected any day. Please help to keep the pressure on the Parole Commission. Write a brief, to-the-point letter to the U.S. Parole Commission at 5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 420, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815-7286, Re: Leonard Peltier #89637-132. You can fax your letter to (301) 492-6694, if you wish.

* It's a Wrap: Focus on Executive Review *

Remember that, to accommodate certain organizers, a second delivery will be made on or around March 1 to the Attorney General's office. That means time is short. For information on the Zoom In campaign, and get your flyers in without delay.

* Events *

-- 23 February, New York, NY: Save the Date for Leonard Peltier! 7:00 p.m. at Sixth Street Community Center, 638 East 6th Street, Manhattan. Short films and letter writing on behalf of
Leonard. Sponsored by the NYC Leonard Peltier Support Group. For information, or

-- 28 February, Jamaica Plain, MA: Spotlight on Repression. A fundraiser for the Jericho Movement to Free All Political Prisoners and the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee at Spontaneous Celebrations, 45 Danforth Street (Stonybrook stop on the Orange Line), 6:00-9:00 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.) Presented by Jericho Boston. Information:

-- 06 March, Schaumburg, IL: Art auction organized by Leonard Peltier with proceeds benefiting children affected by the tragedy in Haiti. Art by Peltier and other selected artists will be included in a live and silent auction. Paintings will be on display beforehand. Trickster Gallery at 190 South Roselle Road beginning at 1:00 p.m. Call 847-301-2090 or send an e-mail to for ticket information or visit

* Service Announcement *

Juno and Netzero are blocking delivery of our digests to our registrants. This sort of thing happens from time to time even though we operate an double opt-in list. Help us let folks know that they need to add to their address books and/or white list us. If the problem persists, subscribers should contact their Internet Service Providers to resolve the problem.

* Xtra *

The following events may be of interest to you. More than that, you can make them opportunities to get out on the streets and put Indigenous issues and the case of Leonard Peltier in the public eye.

-- Massive anti-war mobilization and march on DC - March 20 (Major march, followed by "occupation" on the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument which is slated to last until troops start coming home); see

-- Poor People's March - April 4-June 27 (originates in New Orleans and ends in Detroit at the site of the U.S. Social Forum); see

-- U.S. Social Forum in Detroit - June 22-26; see

"Never cease in the fight for peace, justice, and equality for all people. Be persistent in all that you do and don't allow anyone to sway you from your conscience."--Leonard Peltier

Time to set him free... Because it's the RIGHT thing to do.

Friends of Peltier

La Jornada: Please, Read the Transcripts!

La Jornada: Please, Read the Transcripts!

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada*

La Jornada

February 23, 2010

Havana - The exclamation that I used to entitle this article was raised by an eminent jurist when, in his time, he tried to do Sacco and Vanzzetti justice. And it is relevant now regarding the Five Cubans imprisoned in the United States for fighting against terrorism.

Because Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René, who are suffering cruel and unjust prison sentences for more than 11 years, are in one word, innocent. This is known by those who have looked for the truth in the official site of the United States government (US Department of Justice, US District Court of Southern Florida, United States vs. Gerardo Hernandez et al).

They were kidnapped, confined in solitary during 17 months, at the same time that the kidnapping of Elián González was taking place, a case that the entire world knew well about because the media was tirelessly reporting on it day and night. But very few people knew about the kidnapping of the other five Cubans.

So, it was easy for the government to deny the detainees an impartial trial in another venue and to impose them to stand trial precisely in Miami, in an environment of illegality and violence that gave universal notoriety to that city.

On top of that, the reason why the Cuban Five were arrested was because of their efforts to discover plans against Cuba by these same terrorist groups accustomed to kill and to threaten people also in Miami. Complying with that risky and difficult mission required of our compatriots to ignore some norms and legal dispositions. They could not inform the US authorities what they were doing simply because these authorities have always been accomplices of the terrorists. The trial in Miami is the best proof of that.

From the preparatory stage of the trial the prosecutors openly recognized it: "The fight against terrorism is the motivation of the accused and motivation should not be aired in front of the jury” (Official documents, US District Attorney Motion in Limine, 2000). When the trial started, the prosecutors returned to the fray: “The court is strongly advised that witnesses exercise their right to base on the Fifth Amendment so that terrorist activities against Cuba are not made public.” (Official documents from the trial, District attorney Motion, March 20, 2001).

On her part, the judge agreed: “The terrorist acts by others cannot excuse the wrongful and illegal conduct of this defendant or any other” (Joan Lenard, Transcripts of the Trial, December 14, 2001).

The government asked for the most outrageous sentences – 4 lives plus 77 years as a whole – but insisted that that punishment was not enough. It was necessary according to the prosecutors, to make sure that none of the Five could conduct any future action against terrorist groups.

The judge agreed adding this unusual sentence: “As a further special condition of supervised release the defendant is prohibited from associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists are known to be or frequent.” (Lenard ibidem).

Those who read the pages of the infamous process against them in Miami will discover immediately that the Cuban Five are fighters against terrorism, truly heroes, who have sacrificed their lives to save the lives of their people. Those who read these pages will also realize that the United States government is to blame for promoting terrorism against Cuba, and also for defending and protecting terrorists.

This is the great truth that the US government has strived to hidden. And without a doubt they have been successful. Its enormous media machinery - the “disciplined media” according to Chomsky­ has taken it upon itself to impose the silence and misinformation.

People in the United States and in many other places are prevented for knowing the truth. What would happen if they could read what really happened in Miami?

* President of the Cuban National Assembly of the People’s Power.

Court moves to make public documents in activist's contempt case

Court moves to make public documents in activist's contempt case
The case involves a Minneapolis woman jailed since November for refusing to testify to a federal grand jury.

By ABBY SIMONS, Star Tribune

Last update: February 25, 2010 - 8:12 PM

A Twin Cities journalist won a partial victory Thursday in a battle to open the court record involving a Minneapolis activist jailed in Iowa for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion on behalf of Sheila Regan of the online publication Twin Cities Daily Planet to unseal most records related to a contempt of court case against Carrie Feldman.

However, the appellate court gave federal prosecutors three weeks to propose which parts of the record they want redacted. Prosecutors say some information may need to be withheld to protect the "secrecy and integrity" of the grand jury process.

Feldman, 20, was jailed in November for refusing to appear before a grand jury examining a 2004 break-in at a University of Iowa laboratory targeted by animal rights proponents.

Feldman said she knows nothing about the break-in and refused to testify because she believes grand juries are used to abuse power. Under the law, she could be jailed until October if she maintains her silence.

Her former boyfriend, University of Minnesota graduate student Scott DeMuth, 22, was charged in November with conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism in connection with the break-in. He was released pending trial.

In Thursday's ruling, Eighth Circuit Judge Kermit Bye expressed frustration that the government will get additional time to submit proposed redactions when Regan's motion to unseal the record was filed more than a month ago.

"The public's rightful access to the majority of the records in this appeal has already been delayed by two months," Bye wrote.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

A Day in the Life of Political Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim

A Day in the Life of Political Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim

February 26, 2010

Prisoner organizations at Auburn Correctional Facility in New York State had approval to hold an event in the auditorium for Black History Month. Two outside guests had been approved to attend, a professor from Syracuse and a professor from Cornel University. I was also approved to make a 20-minute presentation. This presentation was to be a capsule overview of the civil rights movement, its evolution into the black power movement, the power politics of the ballot and the ascent of Barack Obama to the presidency.

However, on February 26, I was called into the media center and brought to an office to speak with Superintendent Harold Graham. Superintendent Graham basically told me that, following his approval of me to make the presentation for Black History Month, the correctional officers' union (New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association-NYSCOPBA) waged a campaign by contacting local media and the central office in Albany to prevent me from making the presentation.

Supt. Graham stated that he had received a phone call from the Albany central office telling him that I could not make the presentation. Supt. Graham further stated he felt that they were wrong. He told the commissioner that I have been here nearly 10 years, except for my time in California, and that he has not ever had any problems with me.

However, central office in Albany stated that they could not take the heat from any media scrutiny as a result of the guards' disapproval. So I have now been denied the opportunity to address the population for Black History Month. I thanked Supt. Graham for personally letting me know that I would not be able to make the presentation.

We can see from this level of animosity towards me by the NYSCOPBA that we need to double and triple the support base for my upcoming parole hearing in June.

Please sign the petition to Governor Paterson for Clemency/Commution of Sentence at the following url:

Dictated to Anne Lamb via telephone on 02/26/10

Eric McDavid Update

Eric McDavid is a political prisoner, currently serving a 20 year sentence in federal prison for “thought crime.” He was arrested in January 2006 (as part of the government's ongoing "Green Scare" campaign against environmental and animal rights activists) after being targeted by an undercover informant who formulated a crime and entrapped Eric in it. Eric was targeted by the state for his political beliefs, and his case is important for everyone who dares to stand up. He is currently appealing his conviction and his sentencing.

Update February 24, 2010

Dear Friends,

On Friday, February 19, the government filed their reply brief to Eric's appeal. The document they filed was 90 pages long - 90 pages of lies and slander in their continued effort to demonize Eric and justify their own inhumanity in locking a person in prison for 20 years for "thought crime." The document is full of continued attacks on Eric's character as well as misrepresentations and lies about the actual unfolding of events. All of this, combined with outrageous distortions of the law, make the government's reply a rather distasteful read. But, for those of you who are interested in such sour fare, we are posting a copy of the reply brief on Eric's website in the documents section. We recommend keeping something sweet nearby. Or perhaps something to settle the stomach.

As painful as this document was to read, we are incredibly relieved that it has been filed. Eric's lawyer now has 2 weeks to file his final response. We are hopeful that this will happen on time, as every delay means that much more time that Eric spends in prison unnecessarily. This response will be the last document that needs to be filed for the appeal. Then we begin the wait for the court's response. Unfortunately, this could be a very long wait.

In the meantime, we want to urge you all to please not forget about Eric! He still needs your support in his struggle for freedom. One of the most important ways you can support Eric is to donate to his support fund. We have some money set aside in case we have expenses to cover in the event of a new trial, but the money that we use to keep up the website and help pay for my visits with Eric are quickly running out. These visits are incredibly important to us and help us maintain some sanity in this insane situation.

Eric is currently being held in Victorville, CA - which is almost 7 hours from where I live. Renting a car and paying for gas is incredibly expensive, and it's a cost I just can't carry on my own. The support Eric has received from all of you over the last four years has been amazing, and we are more than thankful for all you have done. Eric has shown a steadfast, unwavering commitment to do the right thing and fight the outrageous charges against him, despite facing severe repercussions for that decision. Please consider making a donation to support him, however small. Every tiny bit helps. Keeping our connections with each other in situations like this is absolutely essential. The state has tried to sever Eric's connections to his family and communities. They know that this is where our strength lies. Our visits together are a very powerful tool in fighting the isolation and loneliness that prison can bring and in keeping each other strong. Please consider donating to help us keep these connections with each other.

To donate to Eric's support fund, you can visit the "Help" section on his website and use the PayPal link to donate online. If you would rather not use PayPal (which we completely understand), please email us and we will let you know how to send a check or money order.

Thanks to everyone for staying with Eric these last four years.


jenny (Eric's partner)/SPS

Friday, February 26, 2010

News from Indianz.Com

EchoHawk admits 'no way' to clear BIA school backlog (2/26)

Obama nominates Pequot man to gaming commission (2/26)

MinnPost: Red Lake facility sits unused after five years (2/26)

Indian farmers wait on settlement over discrimination (2/26)

Stillaguamish Tribe names former leaders in theft suit (2/26)

Navajo chapter president signs deal to end ethics flap (2/26)

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation launches web site (2/26)

Wisconsin Assembly backs bill against Indian mascots (2/26)

Column: It's past time to get rid of 'Fighting Sioux' nick (2/26)

Bill affects Tohono O'odham off-reservation casino bid (2/26)

Court upholds city's deal for Scotts Valley Band casino (2/26)

Maine tribes to ask state voters to approve casino plan (2/26)

Gaming mogul Steve Wynn drops hotel from casino bid (2/26)

Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds budget hearing (2/25)

DOI solicitor hosts meeting for Indian law practitioners (2/25)

Commerce secretary addresses Indian business meet (2/25)

Satire: Native people are blue giants who ride dragons (2/25)

Students donned headdresses and warpaint at games (2/25)

DOJ brief backs Cayuga Nation in tobacco tax dispute (2/25)

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe raised $400K after storm (2/25)

Wind farm company offered $1M in sacred site dispute (2/25)

Maine tribes welcome executive order on consultation (2/25)

North Dakota tribe sees $1M a month in oil production (2/25)

Editorial: Potawatomi leader supports school's mascot (2/25)

More headlines...

26 February 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Healthcare Summit Ends in Deadlock; Single-Payer Advocates Excluded
After nearly seven hours of televised debate, President Obama’s so-called bipartisan healthcare summit ended Thursday without any substantive agreement between Republicans and Democrats. Republican lawmakers remained staunchly opposed to using the federal government to regulate health insurance. We speak to Columbia Journalism Review contributing editor Trudy Lieberman and pediatrician Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program. [includes rush transcript]

V-Day Founder Eve Ensler on “I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World”
Eve Ensler has made it her lifelong mission to end violence against women and girls. The founder of V-Day and the bestselling author and playwright behind The Vagina Monologues, her latest book is a collection of fictional monologues and stories inspired by girls. It’s called I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World.

As Obama Pushes “Clean Coal,” Jeff Biggers Tracks History of Destructive Mining in “Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland”
On the heels of President Obama’s major initiative to develop so-called clean coal technology, the journalist and cultural historian Jeff Biggers explores the myth of clean coal in a new book on the secret history of coal mining in Obama’s home state of Illinois. Jeff Biggers’ family has lived in southern Illinois for 200 years. In 1999, their 150-year-old log cabin and 200-year-old settlement at Eagle Creek was destroyed by several strip-mining operations.


Healthcare Summit Fails to Reach Agreement
17 Killed in Afghan Attacks
Israel to Build 600 New Homes in East Jerusalem Settlements
Shrine Uproar Fuels New Protests in Hebron
Iraq Reinstates 20,000 Army Officers
Major Storm Headed to Haiti
Thousands of Hondurans March in Anti-Coup Protest
VA to Review Disability Claims of Gulf War Vets
Citibank Cancels Account of Gay Networking Site
Admin to Seek Improved Wages, Benefits at Federal Contractors
US Firms Probed for Role in Greek Financial Crisis
Protests at UC Schools Ahead of Statewide Day of Action

Yesterday's show:

Headlines for February 25, 2010
Juan Gonzalez: Eva Moskowitz Has Special Access to Schools Chancellor Klein
Glenn Greenwald: Dems Hiding Behind Filibuster to Justify Political Inaction on Public Option
FBI, US Attorney Investigating Penn. School District’s Computer Spying on Young Students
Author Shane Harris on “The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State”

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Commission's final decision, Leonard Peltier won't be paroled

Forwarded on behalf of
LP-DOC - PO Box 7488 - Fargo, ND 58106
Phone: 701/235-2206; Fax:701/235-5045

February 24, 2010


Today we received word that the parole decision has been affirmed by the U.S. Parole Commission. The Parole Commission made no concessions except for one -- to finally recognize Leonard's "recent prison record of good conduct." The Parole Commission went on to say that Leonard's age, health, and release plan were all considered, but that these elements "don't warrant his release at this time." All legal arguments made by the Peltier attorney Eric Seitz were rejected.

Once again, we're told that innocence is no defense. Yet again, the government has singled out Leonard Peltier as a scapegoat. As has always been the case, they intend to force Leonard Peltier to pay the price for the killings of their agents despite the lack of evidence against him. This is nothing short of politically motivated vengeance.

Leonard won't receive another full parole hearing until he is nearly 80 years old. Already at risk for blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and certainly premature death given his diet, living conditions, and health care, this parole decision is also nothing less than a death sentence.

Don't accept the unacceptable. Demand Leonard's freedom. Call the White House comment line every day to express your outrage. Call: (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1112. You also can send an e-mail to the White House. Go to Mail or fax a letter to President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC 20500; Fax - (202) 456-2461.


Time to set him free... Because it is the RIGHT thing to do.

Friends of Peltier

AETA Indictee Scott DeMuth demands discovery, Grand jury resister Carrie Feldman awaits re-hearing on appeal in segregation

February 23, 2010

Contact: Jude Ortiz, Scott and Carrie Support committee (SCSC)

AETA Indictee Scott DeMuth demands discovery, Grand jury resister Carrie Feldman awaits re-hearing on appeal in segregation

This morning, over a dozen supporters joined Scott DeMuth in the Federal Courthouse in Davenport, IA, for an arraignment and hearing on numerous discovery-related motions. DeMuth is facing allegations of conspiracy under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, stemming from an investigation of an Animal Liberation Front action that occurred in November 2004. This hearing comes on the heels of the transfer of Carrie Feldman, who has been in custody on civil contempt since November 17, 2009, for refusing to testify before a grand jury in relation to this case.

In today's hearing, DeMuth's attorney, Michael Deutsch, argued that the prosecution has failed to produce the discovery that the defense is entitled to under the rules. Judge Shields took the arguments under advisement and is expected to issue a ruling within the next few days.

The defense team had also filed a motion to dismiss the original indictment, arguing that it failed to meet basic requirements for an indictment. The indictment gave no indication as to what the prosecution alleges DeMuth actually did, and provided an overly vague time frame for the alleged crime. In an apparent affirmation of this defense argument, US Attorney Cliff Cronk filed a superseding indictment last week. The new indictment, however, appears to be fatally flawed in itself—it still fails to provide any indication as to what DeMuth is alleged to have done to conspire under the AETA. Responding to defense motions, the prosecution backpedaled on an earlier strategy to prosecute Demuth for his constitutionally-protected free speech and associations: “This case has nothing to do with political association ... this conspiracy continues as long as alf [sic] continues to break into labs and free animals,” Cronk said in open court. Seeing that the statute of limitations has expired for the Spence Lab break-in specifically, the prosecution appears to now justify DeMuth’s charges by arguing that the scope of the crime in question extends to a conspiracy involving unrelated actions across the country claimed under the banner of the Animal Liberation Front.

Furthermore, Lisa Williams, speaking on behalf of the “Scott and Carrie Support Committee,” pointed out that “Cronk continues to juggle competing theories of his own case in the courtroom. One minute, he claims that he intends to show that Scott participated in the break-in at Spence labs himself, and the next he claims that, instead, he intends to show that Scott conspired with others, from another location, and was never in Johnson County himself. If he had a legitimate foundation for the charge he is bringing against Scott, he would be telling one story and sticking to it. Obviously, there is no basis for these allegations.”

Meanwhile, Carrie Feldman was recently transferred from Washington County Jail—where she was a model inmate—and is currently being held in segregation in Dubuque County Jail, where her communication with supporters has been severely curtailed. Feldman has a pending re-hearing of her appeal, in which her attorneys argue that the use of secret evidence by the prosecution—evidence to which her defense team was denied all access—violates her due process rights. They also maintain that the statute of limitations has expired on the incident in question, making her detention punitive. Their argument is supported by the dissenting opinion in the case, in which Judge Bye describes Feldman's detention as an “abuse of the grand jury process” and recommends her “immediate release from jail confinement.”

Court documents from both Feldman and DeMuth's cases are available at:

Okanagan Band launches road block to protect their water supply

Okanagan Band launches road block to protect their water supply

The Okanagan Indian Band (OIB) launched a "protective blockade" this morning,February 23, at the Okanagan campsite near Bouleau Lake in southern British Colombia.

A member of the greater Okanagan Nation, the OIB say they have been left with no choice but to stop the logging company Tolko Industries from endangering their water supply. “This [...]

You may view the latest post at

Navajo Traditional Song and Dance on 13 March

February 23, 2010

March 13, 2010

Dooda (NO) Desert Rock will be sponsoring a Navajo Traditional Song & Dance as a fundraiser event on March 13, 2010 at the TseAlnaozt'i'i Veteran's Memorial Center starting at 10am and will end at 10pm. There will be plenty of dancing and singing to the drumbeat! Of course we can’t leave out the food and beverages for your enjoyment!

You are definitely invited to come out and have fun with us. If you can't attend, please send your contributions to us at PO Box 7838, NewComb, NM 87455 or call us at 505-947-6159.

We will need your help with door prizes, giveaways, food and finances for the building-usage cost and to purchase items to make the event possible. Manpower is also needed; please contact us for more information as soon as possible.

The funds raised will be used towards the DDR 2010 California Speaking Tour. The tour is scheduled for March 17-27, 2010 and more information will be available very soon.

For more information, contact; Elouise Brown,

Leonard Peltier Solidarity Statement with Mumia Abu-Jamal

Leonard Peltier Solidarity Statement with Mumia Abu-Jamal

Greetings brothers and sisters, and thank you for attending this event to listen, learn, teach, and organize. I am Leonard Peltier, a proud Lakota and Anishinabe American Indian activist, organizer, and patriot. I am likewise, unfortunately, a fellow political prisoner in this 'land of the free.'

I, along with my family, my supporters, and American Indians everywhere, know full well what the justice system of the United States can mean to the brown man, the black man, and any man or woman who dares to think or talk truth to power.

That we have been made targets in our own country should outrage every single man and woman everywhere, no matter the color, background or political leaning. That this country continues the barbaric practices of executions should be opposed by all people of conscience.

Whether or not you approve of capital punishment is irrelevant as long as minorities are executed with alarming disparities. Whether you approve or not is of secondary concern when people like Mumia Abu Jamal, myself and many others are convicted and sentenced to die with evidence that would exonerate most any white man. As such, every single progressive organization should oppose the death penalty as we now know it.

This has not been a case of justice or the law, it has been politics, racism, and control, and we should confront these issues long before we decide who to execute. As long as we have these inequities in our midst, we will continue to convict and execute innocents. Execute - let's call it what it really is - state sanctioned murder! Why does America allow this brand of 'justice' to exist?

That is a question that must haunt the soul of every true American patriot. For as long as it does, America can never be the bastion of freedom it has claimed to be, the light in the darkness it wants to be, nor the high ground of morality it hopes to be.

Pay attention to the names this government uses when it is opposed. The American government has called other countries 'evil empire' and 'axis of evil.' The rest of the world hears this and scoffs!

Why? Because they see this country convicting, imprisoning, and executing innocent minorities and political liabilities while claiming to be a free society - because they see corporate personhood allowing the rape of the Earth and desecration of the sacred - because they see this country waging illegal war while claiming to love peace - and because they see this country propping up murderous dictators while giving lip service to human rights. The rest of the world sees all of this and wonders, is not America the real evil empire?

I, like Mumia, have been called a terrorist by my own government. Well, I never knew a terrorist who advocated the rule of law as we have. Some people need to find a new dictionary!

There may be other parts of the world which are breeding grounds for terrorism, but this government makes sure they have fertile ground to harvest. We are not the terrorists! I love my country. Progressive thinking people love this country. It is thusly our patriotic duty to respond to such government with righteous indignation! It is only when we allow a corrupt government to corrupt our very minds that a patriot becomes a terrorist!

As long as you are willing to work for justice, all political prisoners can still hope for freedom. Real power starts from the bottom and goes up, not the other way around. Free Mumia!

In solidarity,
Leonard Peltier

News from Indianz.Com

BIA changes stance on Narragansett land acquisition (2/24)

BIA backs return of surplus land to Fond du Lac Band (2/24)

Seattle Weekly: Native victims sue over priest abuse (2/24)

North Dakota tribe benefits from energy development (2/24)

Native Hawaiian recognition bill clears vote in House (2/24)

New York governor proposes tobacco tax regulations (2/24)

Navajo council overrides veto of fundamental law bill (2/24)

Lower Brule Sioux Tribe opposes tower at sacred site (2/24)

Editorial: Village won't recognize Oneida sovereignty (2/24)

Klamath Tribes close to deal over land near Portland (2/24)

Cherokee Nation breaks ground on sixth dental clinic (2/24)

Six people charged for stealing from Fort Peck Tribes (2/24)

Northern Cheyenne Tribe asserts control over school (2/24)

GOP lawmaker delays Indian mascot bill in Wisconsin (2/24)

Rincon Chair: States hold tribes hostage for compact (2/24)

Town wants Mashpee Wampanoag casino assurance (2/24)

Connecticut tribes to testify at hearing on keno plan (2/24)

Steve Wynn to manage Mashantucket casino project (2/24)

More headlines...

24 Feb 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

In Historic Vote, Vermont Poised to Shut Down Lone Nuclear Reactor
The nuclear power industry—and President Obama’s plans to fund its growth—is bracing for a major setback today as the Vermont state senate is expected to vote to shut down the Vermont Yankee plant, a nuclear reactor with a history of leaks. We speak to nuclear engineer and former industry executive Arnie Gundersen, who first sounded the bell on the Vermont Yankee. [includes rush transcript]

Anti-Nuclear Activists Mobilize to Oppose Obama-Funded Construction of Georgia Nuke Plants
The news in Vermont follows Obama’s announcement last week of $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of the first new nuclear power plants in the United States in close to three decades. The loan guarantees will help the Atlanta-based Southern Company build two more nuclear reactors in Burke County, Georgia, near the city of Augusta. We speak to Nuclear Watch South coordinator Glenn Carroll, who has been leading efforts against the construction of the new plants. [includes rush transcript]

“The Media-Lobbying Complex”: Investigation Exposes Undisclosed Corporate Ties of Network Political Pundits
A four-month investigation into the covert corporate influence on cable news found that since 2007 at least seventy-five registered lobbyists, public relations representatives and corporate officials have repeatedly appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CNBC and Fox Business Network with no disclosure that they are paid by corporate interests. We speak to journalist Sebastian Jones, who carried out the investigation for The Nation magazine.

Juan Gonzalez Receives 2010 Justice in Action Award
Democracy Now! co-host and Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez received the 2010 Justice in Action Award from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund last week. We play an excerpt of his acceptance speech.


Admin: “Not Enough Political Support” for Public Option
Toyota Exec Unsure if Recall Will Address Acceleration Issues
Wall St. Securities Bonuses Up 17%
Loans Hit 60-Year Low; 700 Banks at Risk
Dems Losing Wall St. Donations Amid Regulatory Push
Latin American, Caribbean Nations Form New Regional Grouping
Blackwater Diverted Weapons Intended for Afghan Army
Palestinians Protest Israeli Decision on West Bank Shrines
FBI, US Attorney Probing Penn. School District’s Computer Spying

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Uranium Mining Begins at Grand Canyon: Thousands of Claims Threaten Public Health and Sacred Lands

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Uranium Mining Begins at Grand Canyon
Thousands of Claims Threaten Public Health and Sacred Lands
By Klee Benally
Indigenous Action Media

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. -- In defiance of legal challenges and a U.S. Government moratorium, Canadian company Denison Mines has started mining uranium on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. According to the Arizona Daily Sun the mine has been operating since December 2009.

Denison plans on extracting 335 tons of uranium per day out of the "Arizona 1 Mine", which is set to operate four days per week. The hazardous ore will be hauled by truck more than 300 miles through towns and communities to the company's White Mesa mill located near Blanding, Utah.

After being pressured by environmental groups, U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar initially called for a two-year moratorium on new mining claims in a buffer zone of 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park, but the moratorium doesn't include existing claims such as Denison's. The moratorium also doesn't address mining claims outside of the buffer zone.

The Grand Canyon is ancestral homeland to the Havasupai and Hualapai Nations. Although both Indigenous Nations have banned uranium mining on their reservations the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management may permit thousands of mining claims on surrounding lands.

Due to recent increases in the price of uranium and the push for nuclear power nearly 8,000 new mining claims now threaten Northern Arizona. Uranium mined from the Southwestern U.S. is predominately purchased by countries such as France (Areva) & Korea for nuclear energy.

In July of 2009 members of the Havasupai Nation and their allies gathered for four days on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at their sacred site Red Butte to address the renewed threat. Red Butte has long been endangered by the on-going threat of uranium mining.

Under an anachronistic 1872 mining law, created when pick axes and shovels were used, mining companies freely file claims on public lands. The law permits mining regardless of cultural impacts.


Currently there are 104 nuclear reactors in the United States which supply 20% of the U.S.'s electricity. In January the Obama administration approved a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan in a guarantee program for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what Bush previously promised in 2005.

Since 2007, seventeen companies have now sought government approval for 26 more reactors with plans to complete four by 2018 and up to eight by 2020. New reactors are estimated to cost more than $12 billion each.

Although nuclear energy is hailed by some as a solution to the current U.S. energy crisis and global warming, those more closely impacted by uranium mining and transportation recognize the severity of the threat.


Uranium is a known cause of cancers, organ damage, miscarriages & birth defects.

Drilling for the radioactive material has been found to contaminate underground aquifers that drain into the Colorado River, and sacred springs that have sustained Indigenous Peoples in the region. In addition, surface water can flow into drill holes and mine shafts which can also poison underground water sources.
Emerging in the Rocky Mountains in North Central Colorado and winding 1,450 miles to the Gulf of California, the Colorado River is held sacred by more than 34 Indigenous Nations. The Colorado also provides drinking water for up to 27 million people in seven states throughout the Southwest.

The river that carves the Grand Canyon has been extensively used by the agricultural industry and cities that are dependent for drinking water, so much so that it now ceases to flow to the Gulf of California, forcing members of the Cocopah Nation (The People of the River) in Northern Mexico to abandon their homelands and relocate elsewhere.

Today there are more than 2,000 abandoned uranium mines in the Southwest. U.S. government agencies have done little or nothing to clean up contaminated sites and abandoned mines. At Rare Metals near Tuba City on the Diné (Navajo) Nation a layer of soil and rock is the only covering over 2.3 million tons of hazardous waste. A rock dam surrounds the radioactive waste to control runoff water that flows into nearby Moenkopi Wash. Throughout the Diné Nation, Diné families have been subject to decades of radioactive contamination ranging from unsafe mining conditions to living in houses built from uranium tailings. Well water is documented by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as undrinkable in at least 22 communities such as Black Falls on the Dine’ Nation. According to the EPA, "Approximately 30 percent of the Navajo population does not have access to a public drinking water system and may be using unregulated water sources with uranium contamination." Flocks of sheep and other livestock still graze among radioactive tailing piles and ingest radioactive water.

According to the Navajo Nation up to 2.5 million gallons of uranium contaminated water is leaching out of the Shiprock Uranium Mill near Shiprock, New Mexico into the San Juan River every year. At the Church Rock Mine in New Mexico, which is now attempting to re-open, up to 875,000 cubic yards of radioactive waste continue to contaminate the land.

In July 1979 a dirt dam breached on the Navajo Nation at a uranium processing plant releasing more than 1,100 tons of radioactive waste and nearly 100 million gallons of contaminated fluid into the Rio Puerco (which ultimately flows into the Colorado River) near Church Rock, NM. This was the single largest nuclear accident in US history. Thousands of Diné families that live in the region, including those forced to relocate from the Joint Use Area due to coal mining, continue to suffer health impacts resulting from the spill.

In 2005 the Diné Nation government banned uranium mining and processing within its borders due to uranium's harmful legacy of severe health impacts and poisoning of the environment. And yet, high cancer rates, birth defects and other health impacts still bear out the uranium industry's dangerous legacy.


Today the US has nearly 60,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear waste stored in concrete dams at nuclear power plants throughout the country. The waste increases at a rate of 2,000 tons per year. Depleted Uranium (DU) is a byproduct of uranium enrichment and reprocessing which has controversial military uses including armor piercing projectiles. DU has been found to cause long-term health effects ranging from harming organs to causing miscarriages and birth defects.

In 1987 Congress initiated a controversial project to transport and store almost all of the U.S.'s toxic waste at Yucca Mountain located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. Yucca Mountain has been held holy to the Paiute and Western Shoshone Nations since time immemorial.

In February 2009 Obama met a campaign promise to cut funding for the multibillion dollar Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository project. The controversial project was initially proposed in 1987 with radioactive waste to be shipped from all over the U.S. via rails and highways. Currently a new proposal for an experimental method of extracting additional fuel from nuclear waste called "reprocessing" renews the threat to desecrate the sacred mountain on Western Shoshone lands.

Western Shoshone lands, which have never been ceeded to the U.S. government, have long been under attack by the military and nuclear industry. Between 1951 and 1992 more than 1,000 nuclear bombs have been detonated above and below the surface at an area called the Nevada Test Site on Western Shoshone lands which make it one of the most bombed nations on earth. Communities in areas around the test site faced exposure to radioactive fallout which has caused cancers, leukemia & other illnesses. Western Shoshone spiritual practitioner Corbin Harney, who has since passed on, helped initiate a grassroots effort to shutdown the test site and abolish nuclear weapons.

Indigenous Peoples in the Marshall Islands have also faced serious impacts due to U.S. nuclear testing. In her book, Conquest: Sexual Violence & American Indian Genocide, Andrea Smith reports that some Indigenous Peoples in the islands have all together stopped reproducing due to the severity of cancer and birth defects they have faced.


In March 1988 more than 8,000 people converged for massive 10 day direct action to "reclaim" the test site, nearly 3,000 people were arrested. Groups such as the Nevada Desert Experience (NDE) and Shundahai Network continue their work to shut down the test site and resist the corporate and military nuclear industry.

Throughout the 1980's a fierce movement of grassroots resistance and direct action against uranium mining near the Grand Canyon had taken shape, galvanized by the Havasupai, Hopi, Diné (Navajo), Hualapai tribes and a Flagstaff group, Canyon Under Siege. Prayerful and strategic meetings were held once a year throughout the 80s. In 1989 a group known as the 'Arizona 5' were charged for eco-actions including cutting power-lines to the Canyon Uranium Mine. Attributable in some part to the resistance and but mainly to a sharp drop in the price of uranium, companies like Dennison were forced to shut their mines down.

Mt. Taylor, located on Forest Service managed lands in New Mexico between Albuquerque and Gallup, has also faced the threat of uranium mining. The mountain sits upon one of the richest reservers of uranium ore in the country, it is held holy by the Diné, Acoma, Laguna, Zuni & Hopi Nations. In June 2009 Indigenous Nations and environmental groups unified to protect the holy Mountain and through their efforts Mt. Taylor was given temporary protection as a Traditional Cultural Property.

For 7 years Indigenous People from throughout the world have gathered to organize against the nuclear industry at the Southwest Indigenous Uranium Forum on the Acoma Nation.

At the 2006 Indigenous World Uranium Summit on the Diné Nation, community organizations such as Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) joined participants from Australia, India, Africa, Pacific Islands, and throughout North America in issuing a declaration demanding "a worldwide ban on uranium mining, processing, enrichment, fuel use, and weapons testing and deployment, and nuclear waste dumping on native lands."

Klee Benally (Diné) is a collective member of Indigenous Action Media, on the Board of Directors of the Shundahai Network, and is a musician with the group Blackfire.
Author Mary Sojourner assisted editing this article. For further information and action:
Southwest Research and Information Center
Shundahai Network
Nevada Desert Experience /
The Center for Biological Diversity
Grand Canyon Trust
Uranium Watch
World Information Service on Energy: Uranium Project
Western Mining Action Network
Network Sortir du Nucléaire
Addressing Uranium Contamination in the Navajo Nation - Map of contaminated wells
Tuba City Mill Site
EPA summit addresses uranium cleanup
Conservation groups challenge uranium mining threat to Colorado River
A peril that dwelt among the Navajos - L.A. TImes - November 19, 2006
Uranium Mining & Milling
Colorado River Facts
Nuclear power inches back into energy spotlight
AREVA: France’s nuke power poster child has a money melt-down
Environmental Working Group - January 2008 - Report: Grand Canyon Threatened by Approval of Uranium Mining Activities
Shiprock Mill Site
Grand Canyon Trust
The Center for Biological Diversity
Las Vegas Review: Yucca Mountain seen as possible reprocessing site
Southwest Research and Information Center
Nuclear Free Future
Klee Benally - Independent Indigenous Media - Indigenous Youth Empowerment! - Protect Sacred Places - Flagstaff Infoshop
Skype: indigenousaction

Company activities suspended in Ajwun and Wampis sacred territory

Company activities suspended in Ajwun and Wampis sacred territory

Peru's Ministry of Energy and Mines announced this week that it is "indefinitely suspending" Minera Afrodita's exploration activities in the Cordillera del Condor region of Peru.

As reported by Servindi, the announcement follows a recommendation by the Supervisory Agency for Investment in Energy and Mining (OSINERGIN), which recently found that Afrodita, a subsidiary of the [...]

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Update: Campaign for a Civil Rights Investigation of the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Campaign for a Civil Rights Investigation of the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
P.O. Box 16, College Station, New York, NY 10030

February 19, 2010

Pam Africa, 215-476-8812
Dr. Suzanne Ross, 917-584-2135

Attorney General Eric Holder
Cc: Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We write to you about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. We are sure you know quite a bit about this case and about the person behind the “case.” As you probably have heard, we are asking the Department of Justice to review the extensive history of civil rights violations in this case, dating back to even before there was any issue of a crime involved, to the present day. We are eager to meet with you to discuss these violations. An international delegation will be available to meet with you on Monday, April 26. We certainly hope that it will be possible for you to arrange to see us at that time. By the beginning of April, we will provide you with a legal brief addressing the issues involved.

This letter, and the request we are submitting for a meeting, is our second approach to the Department of Justice in the past few months. Last November 12, we delivered approximately 20,000 letters (online and in hard copy) to the Department of Justice after holding a press conference at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Charles Rangel, Ruby Dee, Angela Davis, and Alice Walker were among the signers. We delivered the letters to the Department of Justice spokesperson, Alejandro Mijar. We explained to Mr. Mijar why we are calling for a civil rights investigation into Mumia’s case and also conveyed to him that we hoped to meet with you when we next came to the Department of Justice. This exchange with an official from the department was arranged by telephone by Dr. Suzanne Ross in conversation with the Office of the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas E. Perez, through his secretary, Nathaniel Gamble.

We wish to return in April with many of us listed below as well as other national and international leaders representing unions, anti-death penalty groups, religious, legal, and human rights organizations. On April 26 we will explain the police, prosecutorial, and judicial patterns in this 28 year legal case that could hardly be said to represent the law but rather the lack of law. Clearly this is a very political and highly charged case. As such, the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal cries out for a review of the decades-long history of lawlessness and injustice.

We hope to hear from you in the very near future and very much look forward to sharing ideas about how a civil rights investigation might contribute to establishing fairness and justice in a case where an innocent man, a rather remarkable intellectual leader and visionary, is being railroaded to execution.

We are attaching a number of documents to give you a picture of the issues involved, the work we’ve done to educate people about a civil rights investigation, the support we’ve gotten, and some of the activities we’ve conducted. These are not legal documents. We will submit those in advance of our meeting with you.

Yours for justice,

National Conference of Black Lawyers
The Riverside Church Prison Ministry
Pam Africa, Chair, International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Sion Assidon, member of Moroccan Association of Human Rights, former political prisoner
Alan Benjamin, San Francisco Labor Council Executive Board member; International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples
Patrick Braouezec, former Mayor of Saint-Denis, France; current member of the French Parliament
Dr. Marvin Cheatham, NAACP, Baltimore City, President
Sister Empress Phile Chionesu, Founder and President General of the Original Million Woman March and Universal Movement, Philadelphia, PA
Michael Coard, Esq., Philadelphia, PA
Martha Conley, Esq., Pittsburgh, PA
Mireille Fanon-Mendes France, Chairperson, Frantz Fanon Foundation, Member of International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Larry Hales, Students and Youth for Mumia
Leslie Jones, Esq., Ithaca, NY
Jeff Mackler, Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal (San Francisco)
Nada Khader, WESPAC Foundation
Cynthia McKinney, Former Congressional Representative, Atlanta, GA
Suryea Peterson, Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Non-Violence, Board member
Dr. Suzanne Ross, Co-chair, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)
Sundiata Sadiq, Ossining NAACP, former President
Fignole St. Cyr, Autonomous Unions of Haiti, President
Dr. Michael Schiffman, English Department, University of Heidelberg, Germany
Professor Mark Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary, Educators for Mumia
Leon Williams, Esq., Philadelphia, PA

List of Attachments

Mass Grassroots Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Congressional Black Caucus Letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, June 30, 1995
Statement by Martin Luther King, III 1999
Article by Hans Bennett, San Francisco Bay View
Article by Linn Washington, This Is No Victory, March 2008
NAACP Press Conference, July 2009
Julian Bond Statement on Democracy Now!, June 2009
Article by Linn Washington, Wrongs in Civil Rights Underlying Abu-Jamal Conviction, August 11, 2009
Final Call Article by Saeed Shabazz, October 30, 2009
November 12, 2009, Press Conference in Washington, DC
Final Call Article by Askia Muhammad, November 2009
Article by Linn Washington, Cracks in Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Case, December 10, 2009
Article by Linn Washington, The Mumia Exception, February 11, 2010

News from Indianz.Com

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Former BIA official headed back to Cherokee Nation (2/23)

Acoma Pueblo created 75 jobs with stimulus project (2/23)

Yurok mother and daughter purchase historic hotel (2/23)

Navajo chapter president faces complaint at hearing (2/23)

Red Cliff Chippewa police chief under criminal probe (2/23)

Firefighter arrest for assault on Pueblo police officer (2/23)

Editorial: 'Scorn' for Native Hawaiian recognition bill (2/23)

Civil Rights commissioners slam Native Hawaiian bill (2/23)

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State official wants to ask NIGC about Poarch Creeks (2/23)

More headlines...

23 Feb 2010: Today's Democracy Now!

Phyllis Bennis on Ending the US War in Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, the number of civilian casualties continues to rise. On Tuesday, at least eight people died after a bomb exploded in the southern provincial capital of Lashkar Gah amid a major US-led offensive in the area. Local authorities said all those killed in the attack were civilians. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s government has condemned a NATO air strike on a convoy on Sunday that killed twenty-seven civilians, including four women and a child. NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal went on Afghan television to apologize for the attack. Last year was the deadliest of the war for civilians and foreign troops. And while there is no reliable count of the number of Afghans killed, the number of US soldiers killed in the war has reached 1,000. [includes rush transcript]

Congress to Investigate Safety of Natural Gas Drilling Practice Known as Hydraulic Fracturing
The top Democrats on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce have asked eight oil-field companies to disclose the chemicals they’ve used and the wells they’ve drilled in over the past four years. Last week, Waxman also revealed two of the largest gas drilling companies have pumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel-based fluids into the ground in violation of a voluntary agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Robert Manning: “Credit Card Nation: The Consequences of America’s Addiction to Credit”
New federal credit card rules that took effect Monday promise to outlaw the most egregious practices of the credit card industry that have plunged customers into insurmountable debt. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure, or CARD, Act includes new protections for customers under twenty-one and makes it illegal for credit card companies to retroactively increase rates and charge certain types of misleading fees. But many credit card companies have already been trying to find ways to bypass these new rules by reinstating annual fees, cutting credit limits and hiking interest rates. Credit card issuers established or expanded the use of at least eight hidden charges to circumvent the rules, according to a report from the Center for Responsible Lending.


McChrystal Apologizes for Afghan Civilian Casualties; US Death Toll Reaches 1,000
US Commander: Withdrawal from Iraq May Be Delayed
Sudan to Sign Darfur Peace Deal
Democrats $15B Jobs Bill Advances in Senate with GOP Help
Report: Wall Street Bonuses Increased 17 Percent in 2009
Obama Outlines Healthcare Priorities Ahead of Bipartisan Meeting
Afghan Immigrant Pleads Guilty in NYC Subway Bombing Plot
EPA Delays New Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations
Energy Department OKs Loan Guarantee for Solar Power Plant in California
Friends of Earth Challenges Proposed New Nuke Plant in South Carolina
Turkey Arrests Former Generals in Alleged Coup Plot
Poland Confirms Secret CIA Flight Landings

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Casualty of Green Scare
February 19 - 21, 2010

A Casualty of Green Scare
The Case of Briana Waters

Smoke billowed as a wing of the University of Washington's Center of Urban Horticulture burned in the early morning hours of Monday, May 21, 2001. It was not the result of a science experiment gone awry -- it was arson.

Situated under a tree, safe from the heat of the blazing inferno, were boxes of little snakes staked neatly on top of one another, prompting former UW researcher Valerie Easton to wonder "who would torch 20 years of research and plant and book collections, yet take the time to save a couple of pet snakes?" They must have been amateurs she thought, not entirely certain why anyone would want to burn the research center to the ground.

The group of five men and women, associated with the covert Earth Liberation Front (ELF), broke into the building through a window, connected a digital timer to a 9-volt battery, which in turn was hooked up to an igniter that was positioned to spark tubs filled with gasoline. When the timer went off the igniter clicked and the gasoline blew. The result was a small, yet fierce explosion that spread fast through the University’s modern science facility.

The flames, first spotted by campus security, were so intense that it took fire fighters two hours to quell, but the damage was done. UW claimed over $3 million in loses. Botany labs burned and decades of scientific research was lost. Investigators had no leads and only suspicions of who was behind the mysterious arson.

Five days after the fire investigators got their first tip in the form of a press release dispatched by Craig Rosebraugh in Portland, which claimed the ELF was behind the attack. The target was UW professor Toby Bradshaw, who received funding from timber industry to develop fast-growing cross-pollinated poplar trees, which are used to produce paper and lumber products. The genes Bradshaw identified through trial and error cross-pollination experiments were used by Oregon State University professor Steve Strauss who took the genes, often resistant to specific diseases, and inserted them into poplar seeds creating genetically engineered (GE) organisms. Bradshaw in turn grew these poplar trees in greenhouses at UW.

Many environmentalists believe GE trees are, as the ELF’s communiqué stated, “an ecological nightmare.” The development of GE applications in nature, in the absence of environmental safeguards, is a recipe for disaster. Wild trees can interbreed with GE trees causing problems scientists can only speculate about. Genes from GE poplar trees, for example, are free, just like pollen or seeds that blow with the wind and can invade forests, spreading fast and disrupting the genetic diversity that allows forest ecology to evolve naturally over time.

The ELF activists targeted Prof. Bradshaw’s lab for this reason, but they missed their mark. The fire did not damage the majority of Bradshaw’s actual scientific research. He made backups of all of his work, which was previously targeted by anti-GE activists during the WTO protests in 1999. Bradshaw was not happy about being on placed on the ELF’s shitlist.

“It's very hard to have a discussion with [these types of environmentalists]. The most vocal critics don't know very much about the science,” Bradshaw publicly bemoaned. “They don't have the ability to distinguish good science from bad science or even non-science. They just don't have the background ... In order to support (the) ELF, you have to espouse terrorism as a tactic which after Sept. 11, I think is pretty untenable.”

And just like that the radical environmentalists who besieged Bradshaw’s work at UW were deemed a terrorist threat even though they were meticulous in the execution of their act, making sure nobody would be injured. Their target was property, not human life. They did their homework, ensuring that janitors were not on duty that night, and despite what the mainstream media reported about Bradshaw’s research, they knew exactly what type of science the professor was practicing and where his research funds originated.

"[These people are] anti-intellectual bigots incapable of making a reasoned argument in a public forum, but capable only of throwing a firebomb in the dead of night," Bradshaw wrote in a sternly worded opinion piece for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer shortly after the incident.

The ornery professor remained undeterred, but it was clear the ELF act had struck a nerve.


The UW research facility was just one in a string of attacks by the nebulous group, and as a result in 2004 the FBI merged seven of its on-going investigations into “Operation Backfire” in an attempt to round up the eco-bandits who allegedly struck a Vail ski resort, a horse slaughterhouse, and even an SUV dealership.

“Investigating and preventing animal rights and environmental extremism is one of the FBI's highest domestic terrorism priorities,” said FBI Director Robert Mueller. “We are committed to working with our partners to disrupt and dismantle these movements, to protect our fellow citizens, and to bring to justice those who commit crime and terrorism in the name of animal rights or environmental issues.”

Until the FBI coordinated efforts with local authorities and other agencies, they didn’t have much to work with in regard to the UW fire. No real evidence was left behind, and any that did exist went up in smoke. They needed someone on the inside to come forward, who would name names and point fingers. The FBI found the informant they needed in late spring 2003 and the fact that their man was a heroin addict by the name of Jacob Ferguson.

Ferguson was a tattooed strung out drifter who traveled across the country, apparently leaving nothing but ashes behind. He admitted to over a dozen arsons, mostly in Oregon where he spent the majority of his time. He claimed to know almost every member of the ELF, and became the FBI’s go-to guy in amassing hours upon hours of tape recordings of conversations he had with his friends. As a drug abuser, Ferguson likely came forward ready to tell all, or make up stories, in order to cash in the reward of $50,000 the FBI announced in May of 2004 that they would offer anyone with information about the UW fire.

Ferguson’s drug use may have made him vulnerable to the FBI’s persuasive ways, and money is usually a great impetus for junkies with heroin habits. Over the course of almost two years Ferguson was showing up in places he had not been seen before. He’d been sighted at environmental law conferences and Earth First! outings, events he avoided in the past, likely wired the entire time, recording conversations that had nothing to do with the FBI investigation.

When news broke in late December 2005 that Ferguson was a “government witness”, anger spread like an ELF fire across the Pacific Northwest environmental community. Acquaintances turned to enemies, and some even left responses about their former ally on Portland’s Independent Media webpage in contempt for his actions.

“The entire [investigation] … seems to rest on the words, actions and credibility of this one man, a man we now learn has lived a double life. In a community where there is consensus distrust, even disgust for the federal government and especially its law enforcement operatives, Jake pretended he was one of us. He was and is one of them,” commented a poster named Mongoose. “How long has Jake been a federal narc? The reason this issue is critical turns on the fact that some of the alleged arsons may actually have been planned or implemented with federal law enforcement help. That could well constitute entrapment.”

It wasn’t long after Ferguson turned informant that the FBI began rapping on doors of environmental activists across the country, picking up where Ferguson left off. He was leading them straight to his friends, people who welcomed him into their homes and around their dinner tables. It seemed as if Ferguson would do whatever it took to keep himself out of prison, even if that meant losing those people who were closest to him.

The chase started by Ferguson eventually led to the front stoop of a wholesome violin teacher living in Berkeley, California in 2004. Briana Waters, 32 at the time, was not someone you’d peg for a terrorist. She simply didn’t look the type. A strung out Ferguson, on the other hand, with a pentagram tattoo sprawled across his balding head, fit the stereotypical profile a bit better. He looked like an arsonist. Waters looked like a young mother, which was exactly what she was.

Raised in suburban Philadelphia, Waters came from an upper-middle class household and left her family behind to attend college at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington in the late 1990s. Evergreen is a bastion of progressive activism and has a strong reputation for turning out radical students, with the list including Rachel Corrie who lost her life while standing up to an Israeli Defense Force bulldozer in an attempt a spare a Palestinian home from demolition in 2003. Waters and Corrie were Evergreen students at the same time, and like Corrie, Waters was a committed, well-known activist on campus.

Waters headed up the animal rights group on campus and was committed to naturalist education, leading hikes through the nearby wilderness on weekends teaching people about the native flora. By her senior year Waters was becoming seasoned environmental activist, cutting her teeth as a tree-sitter in an effort to stop the logging of Watch Mountain, an old-growth preserve in the Cascade Mountain range in Washington.
While tree-sitting was a frequent tactic of environmentalists in Oregon and even British Columbia, but Washington state was not accustomed to this type of direct action:

“These tree-sitters, calling themselves the Cascadia Defense Network, don't like the government's plan to give 25 square miles of heavily forested mountain land on the west slope of the Cascades to the timber company in exchange for 75 square miles of prime hiking land near Snoqualmie Pass,” reported Robert McClure for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in August 1999. “Loggers for generations, many local residents have stood by as the local mill closed and timber companies began shipping timber overseas for processing. Like the protesters, they are not happy with big timber companies.”

Waters and her green comrades were not only confronting the logging industry and the government, they were also tossing dirt in the face of big environmental groups in Seattle who signed off on the deal let Plum Creek Timber Co. log Watch Mountain, near the small town of Randle, Washington. It may have been Waters first real brush up with the radicals of the Northwest environmental movement, one that would later be used to discredit her true intentions.

“We just want to sit up there in those trees and be a spectacle for you,” fellow activist Tim Ream told local Washington residents about the protest his group organized. “We're going to sit up there until there are chain saws buzzing all around us and they take us to jail. And we're not going to make it easy for them.”

The direct action worked, after five long months the Cascadia Defense Network was victorious and Waters caught the victory on film for his senior project at Evergreen State College. Her heartfelt footage documented the struggle with the timber barons as well as friendly relationship between the activists and the local townsfolk. Over 28,000 acres of prime wilderness was ultimately saved and the public land was never handed over to Plum Creek Timber.


The FBI was out to track down the perpetrators of the UW fire and they were more than ready to use the testimony provided by cooperating witnesses to do so. Two of the government’s key informants in the UW case were 31 year-old Lacey Phillabaum a former editor of Earth First! Journal, and Jennifer Kolar, 33, a millionaire yacht enthusiast with a mater’s degree in astrophysics. In order to shorten their own sentences, Kolar and Phillabaum agreed to testify against Waters, claiming she was the lookout for the arson and borrowed a car to drive to the campus that night. They even insisted Waters lived on the property where the explosive device was assembled by her boyfriend at the time, Justin Solondz.

On February 11, 2008 at Western U.S. District in Tacoma, Washington, the government’s case against Briana Waters began with U.S. District Judge Franklin D. Burgess presiding. The location of the trial was moved from Seattle, as prosecutors believed she’d have a less sympathetic jury outside the Emerald City. The jury was selected during the first day and at 9:00am the on February 12 the courtroom theatre began, with a packed room full of Waters’ friends, family, and supporters.

The prosecution was led by Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Friedman and First Assistant United States Attorney Mark Bartlett. The duo’s opening remarks to the jury painted Waters as a dangerous environmental extremist who was willing to do whatever it took to terrorize their target, Prof. Toby Bradshaw.

“What the defendant and her accomplices did that night was wrong in every way,” Friedman told the 12-person jury as he described Waters as the lookout that night. “... If there was one building in Seattle that helped the environment, it was probably the Center for Urban Horticulture. They plotted [their attack] for weeks and built complicated firebombs at a house the defendant rented,” Friedman continued. “She had her cousin rent a car to use in the action and they drove it to Seattle, ate dinner, drove to the Urban Horticulture building, near a residential area, parked on a hill in the residential neighborhood a block away from the building. Waters stayed in the bushes with a radio while the others broke into an office [and planted the firebomb].”

The defense team, made up of attorneys Neal Fox and Robert Bloom, claimed the federal prosecutors were barking up the wrong tree, and the hunt for the real perpetrators led them to an innocent woman. They argued that the evidence was simply not there to support the prosecutor’s claims.

“Not only has Briana Waters pleaded not guilty, she is not guilty … She is completely innocent, not involved in this or any other arson. The government’s proof is what is on trial,” Bloom asserted to the jury. “The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt ... Ms. Waters is innocent not because of some technicality, but because she was not involved with this group of people in any arson, in any discussion of arson ... that's not what happened."

While prosecutors seemed to draw on guilty by association tactics, Waters’ defense team cautioned jurors to look at the facts of the case, not just the illegal actions of her former acquaintances. Both Kolar and Phillabaum began cooperating with the FBI shortly after their initial roundup along with five other environmentalists for a separate Oregon arson in 2005. In exchange for helping the government build its case against fellow activists by wearing a concealed wire, prosecutors promised to cut them a deal. Minimum sentences for arson alone carry a statutory minimum of 30 years with the threat of a maximum life term. It’s little wonder why Kolar and Phillabaum felt pressured to name names, even if those people were close friends and legitimate fellow activists.

Problem was, Kolar, when first interviewed by the FBI in December 2005, only fingered four other participants in the UW arson. Kolar even told the FBI what each of their aliases were. Briana Waters was not on her list. A surprising lapse in memory considering Waters supposedly drove to the site of the arson that night. It was only later, after being pressured by government prosecutors, that Kolar named Waters as the lookout. According to the FBI’s notes provided to Waters’ defense team, Kolar was interviewed five or six times before identifying Waters as the lookout.

As Jennifer Kolar sought to strike a plea bargain with the feds she abruptly “remembered” who the lookout was that night. In mid-January 2006 Kolar was shown a photo of Waters, which she recognized by name, but did not say Waters was involved in the incident. It was almost a full month later, in March 2006, that Kolar informed the FBI of Waters alleged participation.

Aside from the testimonies of Kolar and Phillabaum, the FBI had little to work with. Their original informant, Jacob Ferguson had a drug problem, which would certainly dispel any legitimacy he would have on the stand, plus he was not even directly involved in the UW incident, he only led the FBI down Kolar and Phillabaum’s trail. Anything he confessed would be hearsay. The alleged ringleader of the UW arson, argued the prosecution, was Bill Rodgers, known to others in as Avalon, a man who committed suicide by wrapping a plastic bag over his head in his jail cell shortly after being arrested in Arizona in December 2005. There was simply no hard evidence that tied Waters to the crime scene that night. No fingerprints were left behind, no minuscule strains of DNA were found. All the prosecutors had were suspicion and the testimony of two activists who struck plea deals in order to save themselves from decades in prison.

Lacey Phillabaum’s fiancé, Stan Meyerhoff, a friend of Jacob Ferguson, was a cooperating witness in other ELF cases. While Meyerhoff didn’t participate in the UW arson, he attended secret Book Club meetings leading up to the event and said Waters was not involved in the UW arson. The Book Club, hosted at different locations, served as the organizing nucleus for the group’s covert actions. Meyerhoff even ratted on the love of his life, Lacey Phillabaum. He did not seem to be holding any information back from the FBI.

"Within twenty-four hours [of being arrested], with no deal of any sort on the table, Stan was supposedly squealing like a pig," said Lauren Regan, a lawyer with the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene, Oregon. "Given that Jake had a heroin-riddled mind; Stan was able to fill in a lot of blanks for the prosecution.”

But apparently when the blanks weren’t filled in to the Justice Department’s liking, they simply invented scenarios based on innuendo and stories told by cooperating witnesses who were copping plea deals. On March 17, 2006, Stan Meyerhoff, handed over to the FBI by his pal Jacob Ferguson, was questioned by the feds and shown pictures of people who were under investigation for numerous ELF actions. One of those photos was of Briana Waters. Meyerhoff told investigators that the woman in the photo looked familiar but stated that she was not involved in any action. He was sure of it. The case, according to Water’s defense, should have ended right then and there. Meyerhoff admitted to being intimately involved in numerous ELF acts and knew all the players, but stated outright that Waters was not one of them.

This little bump in the road didn’t stop the prosecution, however. Waters did know Bill Rodgers, which was the cornerstone of the FBI’s case against her. Rodgers, like Waters, was also an above ground environmental activist who was often strapped for cash and had credit problems. As a result Waters purchased a cell phone for him and paid his phone bills to help him out. Prosecutors argued that Rodgers and ELF were cautious and meticulous in all of their crimes. They left no trail, absolutely nothing that could lead authorities to their whereabouts.

So why would Briana Waters purchase a cell phone for Bill Rodgers if she was worried about being caught? Rodgers, according the FBI’s profile, would not have asked Waters to buy him a phone if she was in anyway connected to any illegal activities. They weren’t that careless. That was the case Waters’ defense attempted to make: purchasing phone and paying its monthly bill is not a crime, and in no way put Waters at the scene of the crime that night. But what did, the prosecution countered, was the vehicle she had her cousins rent for her that Waters allegedly used to drive from Olympia, Washington to UW’s campus in Seattle.


On February 15, 2007 Lacey Phillabaum took the stand. Expressing sympathy for all involved, Phillabaum was still clear why she was testifying against Briana Waters. “I had regrets and did not want to spend 30 years in jail,” she told the prosecutor.

An entire day on the stand and Phillabaum did her job in implicating Waters in the UW arson.

She claimed Rodgers vouched for her since she never attended any of the underground Book Club meetings. Phillabaum said her and Waters saw the “clean room” where the bomb device was constructed by Rodgers and Waters’ boyfriend, Justin Solondz. Waters, according to Phillabaum, was put in charge of procuring a car for the drive to the UW campus. On her second day of testimony Phillabaum told of regret for what she did and her tumultuous transition back in to ordinary life with Stan Meyerhoff,

“[Stan Meyerhoff and I] got to know each other and began reintegrating back [into] mainstream [culture], it was hard to do,” Phillabaum said. “First part of getting uninvolved [with the ELF] was admitting to each other that we didn’t want to be involved. Which was hard to do having met in this context ... After 9/11 I decided it was intolerable to be involved with anything like this. We shared a mutual reinforcement of values.”

Phillabaum, whose parents are both lawyers, was certainly primed for the barrage of questions the defense peppered her with. Phillabaum, insisted the defense, slept with Water’s boyfriend Justin Solondz. Phillabaum told Waters’ defense attorney Robert Bloom that she did not remember Waters ever confronting her, where Waters yelled, “how dare you have an affair with my boyfriend!”

“I think the implication is that we had a sexual interaction. That is not correct,” Phillabaum told Bloom. “I never gave him a blow job either if that’s what you’re implying.” To which Bloom replied, “It is about whether you bear ill-will toward Briana ... Briana called you all kinds of names. ‘Disrespectful, unprincipled, not fit to be involved with the movement’.

“I bear no ill-will toward Briana Waters,” she protested.

Later Bloom asked, “If you stay with your deal, the best sentence for you is three years, the worst is five years right?”

“Yes,” Phillabaum responded.

“...One of the inputs of the sentence is what the prosecutors tell the judge about how well you do on the stand, right? It’s fair to say you have an incentive to please the prosecutors,” defense attorney Bloom asked.

“I am not particularly motivated by my plea deal,” Phillabaum explained to Bloom. “I am committed to fulfill it, but emotional and moral commitment which drives me to be honest is to the researchers who I victimized. I would rather do three years than five, but I will do no more than five no matter what I say.”

Overall Bloom’s questions to Phillabaum were not overly interrogating. She held her composure and stuck to her story. Briana Waters, Phillabaum recalled, was involved in obtaining the vehicle for the night and met with all involved for dinner at the Green Lake Bar: Justin Solondz, Bill Rodgers, Jen Kolar, Briana Waters and herself. Had she not implicated Waters, claimed defense attorney Bloom, Phillabaum would face up to 35 years in prison.

The real linchpin in Waters’ trial was not Lacey Phillabaum, but Waters’ cousin Robert Corrina. On February 19, Corrina was called to testify against his cousin. He was repeatedly interviewed by the FBI, with varying stories leading up to the trial. At first Corrina said he did not know Waters, who even lived with him and his wife when she first moved to Olympia. In preceding interviews he said he did, but didn’t know anything about a rental car which was in fact rented by his wife on Waters’ behalf and even deposited $200 cash the week before.

Defense attorneys insisted that since Corrina told contradictory stories to the FBI on numerous occasions that “now the feds hold your life in their hands.” To which Corrina responded, “Not true.” The FBI even went to his wife’s place of employment and threatened them both with the possibility of a perjury charge, a felony offense. Like their case against Briana Waters, the feds also had Corrina cornered.

As Corrina squirmed in his seat as he was grilled with questions, the Waters defense seemed to be unraveling. The jury did not seem to be buying the fact that Corrina was bullied by the FBI to indict his cousin in order to save both him and his wife from prison. What the jury was presented with by the prosecution was a soft man who was telling the truth after having initially lied in an attempt to protect his cousin. Corrina’s early statements to the feds only portrayed Waters as having done something wrong.

On the Sunday night of the arson, recalled Corrina for the first time on record, her boyfriend Justin Solondz drove Waters in the rental car to the Emergency Room because Waters was having abdominal pains. Olympia’s hospital wouldn’t allow her, so she drove to Seattle, said Corrina. It was the first time Waters was said to have been with Solondz on the same night as the arson. It was damning testimony, and it sent the defense’s case for a tailspin. Now they didn’t only have to argue that Phillabaum was lying to save herself, they had to say her cousin was too.

Waters’ ER story also didn’t hold up well under the prosecution’s scrutiny. Neither hospital Waters reportedly sought treatment or had any records of her visit.

Jennifer Kolar was up next, who’s testimony, despite the fact that she had at first not included Waters as involved in her FBI interrogation, did not help Waters’ cause. When questioned about her memory trouble, Kolar replied, “I contradicted myself and my memory.” The defense backed off right at the very moment they should have pounced. They painted Kolar as a cold-hearted rich girl who, unlike Phillabaum, had little remorse for the actions she committed as a clandestine member of the Earth Liberation Front. But however cold Kolar was on the stand, the defense did not attack her truthfulness in such a way that would convince the jury that she was lying to reduce her own sentence.

Waters’ case was falling apart at the seams. Her cousin Robert Corrina put her in the car he helped obtain and Phillabaum and Kolar put her at the scene of the arson as a lookout. Despite a lack of hard evidence, Waters did not have a solid alibi. As for boyfriend Justin Solondz, the one person who could have either corroborated or confirmed Waters’ whereabouts that night – he was long gone, having fled after the initial arrests and is currently a fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

On February 25, it was FBI Special Agent Tony Torres took the stand as a witness for the prosecution. Torres was the note-taker for Jennifer Kolar’s interview on January 12, 2006 where she was shown a photo of Briana Waters and recognized her, but did not say she was in any way involved in the UW arson. After a long, evasive testimony, Torres was forced to admit that Kolar never named Briana Waters as a participant until well after the FBI already fixed on her as a suspect.

According to Torres’ interview with Jennifer Kolar, she recalled events that were in direct contradiction to Phillabaum’s testimony. Not only did Kolar not originally recall Waters being involved, she also thought that Budget rental car used for the night’s event was obtained by Bill Rodgers, not Waters. Also, Phillabaum testified that the car was scrapped while speeding out of the neighborhood where they parked near UW, but Kolar did not recall this happening, nor could Special Agent Torres provide any evidence from Budget that the car returned by Robert Corrina sustained any damage. Torres also testified that Phillabaum told the FBI that both Briana Waters and Justin Solondz acted as lookouts during the UW arson, in contrast with the government’s allegation that Waters alone acted as a lookout.

The big gap in Torres’ testimony was that the FBI did not record Jennifer Kolar’s testimony, even though it is FBI protocol to do so. He also admitted he stopped taking notes in the middle of the interview in an attempt to avoid the “confusion” that resulted in major discrepancies between him and Special Agent Ted Halla’s notes from their interview with Jennifer Kolar’s on December 16, 2005. Defense attorneys accused Torres of falsifying documents in order to set up their case against Waters.

It wasn’t a smoking gun, but Torres was perhaps the weakest link in the prosecution’s case against Briana Waters. He confirmed that the FBI’s two main witnesses’ stories did not match up with one another and had not from the inception the FBI’s investigation. Kolar changed her account of events numerous occasions. She didn’t recall a scrap on the car, nor did she even remember that they used a rental car, as she told the FBI originally that they drove a van to UW, a much more realistic vehicle given the number of people allegedly involved in the arson.

Both Phillabaum and Kolar also said that Waters and crew met at the Greek Lake Bar on the night of the crime. Kolar said they met " around 9 at night, 8 at night,” while Phillabaum testified they met in the "early evening". Defense lawyers challenged both Kolar and Phillabaum’s recollection and presented a bank card receipt which put Waters 60 miles away in Olympia at 7:12 p.m, and given that their was a Seattle Mariners game and construction that evening, it was unlikely, with even normal traffic on Interstate 5, that Waters would have been able to drive to UW in time to meet the others at the bar.

While Briana Waters took the stand in her own defense, a wave of trepidation filled the air, even sending Judge Burgess into afternoon siesta. Supporters in the courtroom were convinced there were simply too many conflicting testimonies and evidence to convict Waters of any crime. It was now Waters’ turn to speak in her own defense. She denied any involvement whatsoever in the UW arson, or any arson for that matter. She did not attend any Book Club meetings. She knew Bill Rodgers, but only for his above ground activities. Waters did not believe that arson was a legitimate form of environmental activism, something she realized during her time on Watch Mountain as she worked with others to organize local communities against proposed logging.

As the defense and prosecution laid out their final arguments for and against Briana Waters, a fire erupted in a posh Seattle development project called Street of Dreams and the ELF claimed responsibility. Perhaps it was more than poor timing. Or perhaps it set by contractors in an attempt to cash in on some insurance money before the housing boom reached their cul-de-sac. Regardless, it certainly did not help Waters.

The prosecution went first, admitting that Jennifer Kolar’s memory was suspect, but that she was certain Waters was a lookout for the arson. They cautioned the jury to see past Waters’ soft veneer, for she was a radical environmentalist at heart. A domestic terrorist willing to use the threat of violence to spread her anti-establishment message. It was their duty, prosecutors insisted, to put Waters behind bars where she belongs, even though all they really ever accused her of was holding a walkie-talkie as lookout. But domestic terrorism is serious, they contended, and she must be punished for her actions, no matter how minor they may seem.

The defense believed they provided the jury with numerous examples that ought to lead to reasonable doubt. Enough that would set Briana Waters free. They pointed out Kolar’s mangled testimony and Special Agent Torres’ bad note taking habits. They said the fact that they had a receipt from Waters in Olympia made it virtually impossible to meet at the Green Lake Bar with the rest of the arsonists. They pointed out that cooperating witness Stan Meyerhoff, second only under Bill Rodgers, said Waters was never involved in any actions. They said that the cell phone payments and her cousin’s rental car was not evidence that she committed the crime. There were just too many unanswered questions and too much innuendo to find Briana Waters guilty, the defense argued.

On June 2, 2008, Waters’ defense attorneys filed a motion which they claim revealed that Jennifer Kolar patently lied and deceived the FBI and jury, and that an investigation was required to determine was action needs to be taken in light of such a disclosure. The defense motion was based upon documents the government disclosed after the trial. The new information, the defense claimed, should have resulted in a mistrial.

Unfortunately, Judge Burgress didn’t agree and jurors were unable to convict on all counts, but they did find Waters guilty on two counts of arson. While awaited her sentencing, Waters’ lawyers asked that she be released until her sentencing so she could spent more time with her partner and 3-year-old daughter. The U.S. attorney’s office opposed the request, and claimed they had new evidence that Waters was involved in more than one arson, insisted that Lacey Phillabuam’s fiancé Stan Meyerhoff, who said before that Waters was never involved, that Waters participated in an attack at the Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Ranch in Susanville, California.

On Thursday, June 19, 2008, Briana Waters was sentenced to 6 years in prison. Letters of support and a tearful plea by her own mother could not keep her out of prison. Lacey Phillabaum and Jennifer Kolar dramatically reduced their sentences, with Phillabaum receiving 36 months and Kolar 60 months.

“Prosecutors used scare-mongering to get the jury to convict an innocent person," Waters' lawyer, Robert Bloom, told Salon shortly after the trial ended. "This is really a study in American prosecution. It was an absurdly slanted American prosecution."

Joshua Frank is co-editor of Dissident Voice and author of
Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press.

Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature and Grand Theft Pentagon. His newest book, Born Under a Bad Sky, is published by AK Press / CounterPunch books. He can be reached at:

(This article is excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank, forthcoming from Haymarket Books.)