Questions & Rumors about The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
An Animal Rights Article from


Kinship Circle
November 2006

Many questions and rumors are circulating the internet regarding the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) and its passage on Monday, November 13, 2006. I hope you find the information below useful, as animal advocacy and social justice orgs regroup for the continuing fight. -Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle 1. QUESTION/RUMOR: I understand the House passed a version of AETA with language that varies from the Senate’s companion bill S. 3880. So, will a conference committee have to reconcile the differences between the bills and vote to approve AETA legislation all over again? DOES THIS MEAN AETA IS STILL AN OPEN ISSUE WHICH CAN BE DEFEATED?

1. CLARIFICATION: 11/15/06, from Alex Hershaft of FARM and Equal Justice Alliance, [email protected] - Unfortunately, that is not true. The bill they voted on (Nov. 13, 2006) was S. 3880, without the ACLU provisions, so no reconciliation is required. James Sensenbrenner (R Wisconsin-5th) is an evil genius. He used Scott, the ranking Democrat on the Crime Subcommittee, HSUS and the ACLU to provide him cover. Then he rushed the vote to the afternoon of the first day, with five of his cronies outvoting Dennis Kuchinich (D Cleveland), when he saw us closing in on him.

We are doing some research to decide where to go from here, but we have decided to fight on. We should issue some clarification in a couple of days. We don't think it's worth our time to ask Bush to veto the bill...

11/15/06, from Peter Muller, [email protected] - What was voted on was S3880 and not HR4239. The bill that passed was the Senate version so there are no conference committees etc. required. Kucinich could have (and should have) called for a roll call vote and raised a point-of-order about a quorum but it would not have made any substantive difference since the bill presumably had the support of two-thirds of those present (4 out of 6). We would have to know the names of the co-conspirators but that and $3 will get you ride from the Greenbelt station to the airport. In sum Kucinich did what he could and should be thanked - we have to figure out how to mobilize the AR community to get something positive out of this.

2. QUESTION/RUMOR: Why didn’t the Big Groups -- HSUS, PETA, etc. -- take action to oppose AETA sooner?

2. CLARIFICATION: 11/15/06, from Alex Hershaft of FARM and Equal Justice Alliance, [email protected] - Introduced at the behest of the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries, AETA was kept under wraps until last August [2006], when it was exposed by a freelance reporter at a national animal rights conference. Our ensuing national campaign opposing the bill gained the support of 160 organizations, including the Humane Society of the U.S., the National Lawyers Guild, the New York City Bar Association, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. No bona fide animal, environmental, or civil liberties protection organization supported the bill. For a complete listing, visit 

3. QUESTION/RUMOR: What in the heck happened last Monday? With so many groups and individuals rallying against AETA, how did it pass with no debate?

3. CLARIFICATION: 11/15/06 Letter To Congress, from Equal Justice Alliance

Dear Representative: On Monday, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was passed by a voice vote of five representatives on the suspension calendar, generally reserved for unimportant and non-controversial issues.

AETA is anything but. It denies equal protection under the law and limits freedom of speech and assembly. It unfairly brands as 'terrorists' nonviolent animal protection advocates. It unfairly brands as 'terrorism' nonviolent civil disobedience, undercover investigations, and whistle blowing. It invokes excessively harsh penalties for comparable federal offenses. It is excessively broad and vague by implicating innocent par-ties. It may authorize unwarranted wiretapping of animal protection advocates. It has a chilling effect on all forms of social justice and life affirming advocacy. It deters investigation of federal laws by animal enterprises. It interferes with prosecution of real terrorism against the American people...

...Sensing the turning tide, Republican House Judiciary Chair Sensenbrenner placed the bill on a suspension calendar for the first evening of the lame duck session, when few of you would be present.

As Sensenbrenner sensed the mounting opposition over the weekend and Monday morning, he quickly advanced the vote to mid-afternoon, catching most of you unawares. Consequently, only six representatives were on hand to vote on an issue that generated thousands of phone calls and e-mails from concerned constituents, as well as thoughtful opposition statements from animal, environmental, and legal organizations.

We played the game by Congressional rules, generating an overwhelming outpouring of opposition to the bill on short notice. But the outgoing chairman of the Judiciary Committee managed to ignore the will of your constituents for his own self-interest. On Monday, Congress brought shame on itself by allowing him to subvert the democratic process.

We would appreciate any advice on how we can rectify this gross injustice. Your expression of support would be welcome as well.

Sincerely, Peter Muller, Alex Hershaft, Odette Wilkens, Dawn Moncrief, for the Equal Justice Alliance, 

4. QUESTION/RUMOR: The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) didn’t take a stand for free speech by opposing AETA.

4. CLARIFICATION: From D. Barber, Correspondence Manager, American Civil Liberties Union - The ACLU Letter to Congress Urging Opposition to the Animal Enterprise Act, S. 1926 and H.R. 4239 (3/6/2006) can be read at: 

If you are not already an ACLU member, we encourage you to help support our aggressive work on the issues you care about. To join please visit or call 1-888-567-ACLU. Once again, thank you for your interest in the ACLU.

Sincerely, D. Barber, Correspondence Manager, American Civil Liberties Union

11/14/06, from Karen Dawn, [email protected] - Actually, Sensenbrenner lied about lack of opposition from the ACLU. Sigh. ACLU did not oppose the whole bill but did ask for changes: 

5. QUESTION/RUMOR: Why should I still protest AETA? I've received letters from my senator and congresswoman stating that the parts of AETA restricting free speech, such as protests or boycotts, have been removed.

5. CLARIFICATION: From Kinship Circle, [email protected] - Most legislators are not wholly informed about the drastic expansions within AETA. The Animal Enterprise PROTECTION Act of 1992 and Animal Enterprise TERRORISM Act of 2002 already exist. Indictments and convictions have been based on these laws. There is no need for additional penalties outlined in the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006.

The National Lawyer’s Guild opposes AETA because it complicates prosecution for vandalism, trespassing and other crimes for which clear penalties are in place. While any activist who breaks the law should be punished -- we don’t need new laws/penalties for crimes that already fall under existing laws/penalties.

As part of the Equal Justice Alliance, I’ve heard arguments from lawyers, activists, a former Congressman, etc. who’ve poured over the text of this bill. It is vague and deceptive -- even with the exemptions mentioned above. It does not focus on the issue of whistle-blowers. AETA is so overbroad, honest citizens may not know if their activities fall within the law.

AETA is a dangerous precedent for free-speech rights. Consider:

AETA does not genuinely fight terrorism (but wastes taxpayer dollars under the guise of doing so). It unjustly singles out any group that advocates for animal protection simply because of political ideology, and silences lawful advocacy seeking to expose animal cruelty violations. AETA may divert valuable taxpayer money and resources away from real terrorism.

AETA's exceptionally severe penalties do not fit the crime. According to the United States Sentencing Commission, in 2005 the median sentence in federal courts for larceny was 4 months; for embezzlement, 4 months; for sexual abuse, 4.5 years; and for manslaughter, 3 years. AETA proposes up to 18 months for an offense involving no threatened or' actual economic damage or bodily harm, or up to life imprisonment for economic damage!

Several corporations that support AETA are repeat offenders. They have been cited for numerous animal welfare violations. These corporations have a vested interest in silencing lawful dissent.

You can find other AETA resources here: 

6. QUESTION/RUMOR: Should I wait for the Big Groups to bring AETA’s sneaky passage to the media, or contact the media myself?

6. CLARIFICATION: Anyone is welcome to contact the media, which has downplayed AETA considerably. The average person has never heard of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. One Kinship Circle member asks, - How about contacting Bill O'Reily to investigate into the number of people present to pass AETA and the underhanded way that it was done? He loves stories like this. If not him, then try Anderson Cooper? He also presents fair and just causes.

We say: Go for it. Write/call local and national media about AETA’s underhanded passage and assault on free-speech rights.

7. QUESTION/RUMOR: I am so mad about Monday’s passage of AETA. I want to know if my elected official voted in support of it.

7. CLARIFICATION: 11/14/06, from [email protected] - There was no roll-call vote. Just AYES AND NAYS and done. There is no listing of how anyone voted. However, you can see if your legislator was an AETA COSPONSOR.

SOURCE: THOMAS/Library of Congress, H.R.4239 / Title: To provide the Department of Justice the necessary authority to apprehend, prosecute, and convict individuals committing animal enterprise terror.

SPONSOR: Rep Petri, Thomas E. [WI-6] (introduced 11/4/2005) - Republican
Rep Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep Cannon, Chris [UT-3] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep Bonilla, Henry [TX-23] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep Cunningham, Randy (Duke) [CA-50] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep Calvert, Ken [CA-44] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep Otter, C. L. (Butch) [ID-1] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep Boren, Dan [OK-2] - 11/4/2005 - Democrat
Rep Blackburn, Marsha [TN-7] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep Doolittle, John T. [CA-4] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [WI-5] - 11/4/2005 - Republican
Rep Emerson, Jo Ann [MO-8] - 11/8/2005 - Republican
Rep Edwards, Chet [TX-17] - 11/8/2005 - Democrat
Rep Kline, John [MN-2] - 11/9/2005 - Republican
Rep Pearce, Stevan [NM-2] - 11/9/2005 - Republican
Rep Larsen, Rick [WA-2] - 11/15/2005 - Democrat
Rep Hall, Ralph M. [TX-4] - 11/15/2005 - Republican
Rep Kuhl, John R. "Randy", Jr. [NY-29] - 11/15/2005 - Republican
Rep Cubin, Barbara [WY] - 11/16/2005 - Republican
Rep Duncan, John J., Jr. [TN-2] - 11/16/2005 - Republican
Rep Bishop, Rob [UT-1] - 11/17/2005 - Republican
Rep Ryan, Paul [WI-1] - 12/7/2005 - Republican
Rep Sullivan, John [OK-1] - 2/1/2006 - Republican
Rep Wilson, Joe [SC-2] - 2/7/2006 - Republican
Rep English, Phil [PA-3] - 2/15/2006 - Republican
Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 2/16/2006 - Democrat
Rep Green, Mark [WI-8] - 3/2/2006 - Republican
Rep Beauprez, Bob [CO-7] - 3/16/2006 - Republican
Rep Coble, Howard [NC-6] - 4/26/2006 - Republican
Rep Stupak, Bart [MI-1] - 5/15/2006 - Democrat
Rep Chocola, Chris [IN-2] - 5/17/2006 - Republican
Rep Norwood, Charlie [GA-9] - 5/17/2006 - Republican
Rep Peterson, Collin C. [MN-7] - 5/18/2006 - Democrat
Rep Conaway, K. Michael [TX-11] - 6/15/2006 - Republican
Rep Herger, Wally [CA-2] - 6/29/2006 - Republican
Rep Schwartz, Allyson Y. [PA-13] - 7/20/2006 - Democrat
Rep Andrews, Robert E. [NJ-1] - 9/6/2006 - Democrat
Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 9/6/2006 - Democrat
Rep Weldon, Curt [PA-7] - 9/12/2006 - Republican
Rep Rehberg, Dennis R. [MT] - 9/12/2006 - Republican
Rep Ferguson, Mike [NJ-7] - 9/14/2006 - Republican
Rep Graves, Sam [MO-6] - 9/19/2006 - Republican
Rep Hayes, Robin [NC-8] - 9/25/2006 - Republican
Rep Kind, Ron [WI-3] - 9/26/2006 - Democrat


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