EXCLUSIVE: Animal Rights Activist Jailed at Secretive Prison Gives First Account of Life Inside a “CMU”
In a Democracy Now! exclusive interview, we speak with Andrew Stepanian, an animal rights activist who was jailed at a secretive prison known as a Communication Management Unit, or CMU. Stepanian is believed to be the first prisoner released from a CMU and will talk about his experience there for the first time. He was sentenced to three years along with six other activists for violating a controversial law known as the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of CMUs. We also speak with Stepanian’s lawyer and a reporter covering the story. [includes rush transcript]
What began under George Bush continues under Barack Obama – targeting dedicated activists with “one of today’s most serious domestic terrorism threats,” according former FBI Deputy Assistant Director of Counterterrorism John Lewis before a Senate panel in May 2005. Called “eco-terrorism,” it grew out of the 2001 USA Patriot Act that created the federal crime of “domestic terrorism” and applied it to US citizens as well as aliens.
In his February 2002 testimony before the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, Counterterrorism Division, James Jarboe defined eco-terrorism as:
“the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature.”