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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 17 November 2006 Issue

UPDATE — Congress Passes HR 4239, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

PART 1 - As anticipated, H.R. 4239, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), was brought to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in a fast-track maneuver late yesterday, on the Representatives’ first day back after the month-long break. The House passed AETA by a voice vote under suspension of the rules, a procedure usually reserved for non-controversial legislation. When the bill came up for consideration, only a handful of House members were even back in town, and very few were on the floor of the House when the brief discussion ensued.

This bill was rushed through without a serious look at its flaws, by Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). Next Steps Because the language of AETA passed by the House varies from the language approved by the Senate in the companion bill, S. 3880, a conference committee will reconcile the differences between the bills. Once the differences are resolved and a conference report is generated, both the House and Senate will need to approve the legislation again. To keep updated on AETA and for more detailed information, visit and

Background - AETA seeks to clamp down on animal activist activities by using a broad brush to paint activists as “terrorists” simply because they oppose institutionalized animal cruelty. Sponsored by Representative Thomas Petri (R-WI), HR 4239 would make it a crime punishable by imprisonment to cause any business classified as an “animal enterprise” to suffer a loss of profit — even if the company’s financial decline is the result of legal activities, such as peaceful protests, consumer boycotts, or media campaigns.

The term “animal enterprise” includes manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of animals or animal products including research facilities, pet stores, breeders, zoos, rodeos, circuses, furriers, animal shelters, and the like. API strongly opposes acts of violence, including vandalism and property damage. However, this bill threatens to criminalize as “terrorism” otherwise lawful, constitutionally protected and valuable acts often utilized by citizens and organizations seeking change.

For example, lawful and peaceful protests against the circus or companies that test on animals could be considered a violation of this act if the activity resulted in economic damage to the company. To find out how your U.S. Representative voted on AETA, please contact his/her office. If your Representative voted against AETA, please thank him or her. On the other hand, if your Representative voted for AETA, politely express your concerns (see talking points below).

You can reach your Representative through U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121. To identify your Congressperson, go to or, or simply enter your zip code at

Talking Points
AETA does not genuinely fight terrorism. AETA may divert valuable taxpayer money and resources away from real terrorism.

AETA is vague and overly broad. AETA isn’t just about illegal actions like breaking windows or rescuing animals from fur farms. It includes penalties for “non-violent physical obstruction” and actions that do not harm people or property. It could label civil disobedience, whistle-blowing, undercover investigations, and aggressive — yet nonviolent — campaigns as “terrorism” if they hurt corporate profits.

AETA limits free speech. Labeling nonviolent actions as “terrorism” and prosecuting them as federal crimes will have a chilling effect on free speech. You shouldn’t have to be afraid of being labeled a “terrorist” for speaking up for animals.

Corporate profits aren’t a national security priority. There are better ways to spend scarce anti-terrorism resources than protecting corporate interests and targeting animal activists as “terrorists.”  Posted 11/04/06 - Okay to Forward/Crosspost

From Animal Protection Institute, PO Box 22505, Sacramento, CA 95822.

From The Humane Society of the United States

Yesterday, we alerted you that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was coming to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives during the "lame duck" session. We wanted to pass on to you the unfortunate news that the House passed the AETA by voice vote under suspension of the rules, a procedure usually reserved for non-controversial legislation. When the bill came up for consideration, only a handful of House members were even back in town, and very few were on the floor of the House when discussion ensued.

The Humane Society of the United States has no tolerance for individuals and groups who resort to intimidation, harassment, vandalism, or violence supposedly in the name of animal advocacy, and we have spoken out repeatedly against violence in any form. The AETA, however, goes too far and may threaten legitimate activities -- such as boycotts, investigations, and whistle-blowing -- of law-abiding groups and individuals, and that's why we opposed the bill.

The bill was rushed through without a serious look at its flaws due to the stubbornness of Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Sensenbrenner. Sensenbrenner has a series of mainstream, pro-animal welfare bills before his committee and he refuses to advance any of them -- including bills to ban canned hunts, to stop Internet hunting, and to upgrade penalties for illegal dogfighting and cockfighting.

The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (H.R. 817) has been cosponsored by three-quarters of the entire House (324 cosponsors), while AETA had just a fraction of that support. Sensenbrenner and other Republican House leaders have no excuse for their failure to allow a fair vote on the animal fighting bill this year, and their misplaced priorities reflect a disregard for animal welfare concerns.

Please call House Majority Leader John Boehner today at 202-225-6205. Tell him that the House needs to pass a modest, popular, animal welfare bill, and that he needs to bring the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act to the House floor immediately. The Senate unanimously passed the animal fighting bill 19 months ago, so it can be signed into law if the House votes on it now.

After you make your call, click here to send a follow up email to Majority Leader Boehner:

Thank you so much for your continued support and action on behalf of animals.

Wayne Pacelle
President & CEO, The Humane Society of the United States

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Please send comments and submittals to the Editor: Linda Beane [email protected]

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