Eco-terrorism hoaxes

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There have been numerous incidents where fabricated claims of 'ecoterrorism' have been made or planned for propaganda purposes to smother public debate on environmental campaigns and reframe environmental issues as 'terrorism':

  • In 1990 in the US a hoax Earth First memo calling for violence "to fuck up the mega-machine" during the Redwood Summer of 1990 was distributed to the media by PR firm Hill & Knowlton. Hill & Knowlton had been hired by the timber firm Pacific Lumber. (PL)
Later during as part of a lawsuit an internal memo revealed that PL were probably aware that the fliers were fakes when they were distributed to the media. Their memo stated "Also enclosed is an Earth First! logo, however as Daryl's name is misspelled, we are not to (sic) sure who put it out". Pdf copy of Flyer and PL memo
  • In Australia, two days before a knife-edge election in 1993, a hoax bomb without detonators was found on a railway line adjoining a forestry log yard. On the bridge was a banner, which stated "Save the Tarkine: Earth First". (The Tarkine is Australia's largest rainforest wilderness area). The timber industry and the State Premier pointed the finger at environmentalists with the mainstream media following their lead. Once the ballots were cast and counted the Greens missed out on winning the last Senate seat by less than 1% of the vote. Six months later Tasmania Police issued a statement indicating there was no evidence to support the view that Earth First! was involved. Download pdf of newsclip and police briefing note
Several years later an internal memo from the files of the Victorian Police Counter Terrorist Intelligence Section, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, stated "the device is considered [by Tasmania Police] to be an elaborate hoax and they have not ruled out the possibility that it may have been placed there by loggers in an attempt to discredit the Green movement".
  • Other documents obtained under a Freedom of information request revealed a tip off to police in the Australian state of Victoria that hoax 'ecoterrorism' incidents might occur at the height of a dispute over logging in early 1995. Superintendent Haldane from the Victorian town of Bairnsdale, acting on information that he received, stated: "information has been received that with the fluctuating politics of the woodchipping debate, instances of damage to logging equipment might become more prevalent. This relates in particular to damage being done by pro-logging interests in an attempt to discredit the anti-woodchipping and conservation movements." Download pdf of Haldane's memo
However, with the media stereotypes that any damage to equipment was the work of environmentalists, Haldane had to warn his officers to approach any such investigations with an open mind. "Any member attending an incident of this type should notify the relevant CIB and ensure that all investigation options are explored - DO NOT assume that any act of damage to logging equipment or logging infrastructure is done by conservationists or members of anti-logging groups," the memo stated.

Other SourceWatch resources

External links

  • Pacific Lumber interoffice memo, April 18 1990 cited in David Helvarg, The War Against the Greens, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1994, page 4. (Pdf)
  • Victoria Police, Counter Terrorist Intelligence Section, "Intelligence Investigator Report: Earth First Bomb Tasmania", 12 July 1993.