our direct action movement for animal liberation grows and our movement becomes
more effective, government harassment will only increase. To minimize the destructiveness
of this government harassment, it is imperative that we create a "security
culture" within our movement.
So what is a security culture? It's a
culture where the people know their rights and, more importantly, assert them.
Those who belong to a security culture also know what behavior compromises security
and they are quick to educate and reprimand those people who, out of ignorance,
forgetfulness, or personal weakness, partake in insecure behavior. This security
consciousness becomes a "culture" when the group as a whole makes security
violations socially and morally unacceptable within the group.
aims to start the implementation of a security culture within the animal liberation
movement. To this end, it will spell out exactly what behavior is inappropriate
because it intensifies government harassment, jeopardizes the freedom of other
activists, and destroys the trust within the movement. The article will also explain
how to effectively deal with those people who violate security.
Not to Say
To begin with, there are certain things that are inappropriate
to discuss. Some of these things are as follows:
- Your involvement with
the A.L.F. (For simplicity's sake, we will only refer to the A.L.F. even though
this applies to all groups that advocate illegal direct action where they plan
on NOT getting caught.)
- Someone else's involvement with the A.L.F.
- Your or someone you know's desire to get involved with the A.L.F.
- Your or someone you know's plans for an A.L.F. action.
others if they are a member of the A.L.F.
Can you see a pattern? What
all of these are stating is this: it is wrong to speak about a specific individual's
involvement (past, present or future) with the A.L.F.
There are only two
times that it is acceptable to speak about this information. The first situation
would be if you were planning an A.L.F. action with other members of your cell
(however, you would never discuss these things over the Internet, phone line,
through the mail, or in an activist's home or car, as these places and forms of
communication are frequently monitored). And, in this situation, the only people
who would hear this discussion would include those who are actively partaking
in the action. Anyone who is not involved does not need to know and, therefore,
should not know.
The second exception to the rule is with regards to A.L.F.
activists who are convicted of doing illegal direct action. Once they are found
guilty, they can freely speak of the action for which they were convicted. However,
they must never give information that would help the authorities determine who
the other cell members are or discuss other raids they were involved in that they
were not convicted for.
Those are the only two times it is appropriate to
speak about your own or someone else's involvement or intent to commit illegal
direct action. But please note that no one is claiming it is wrong to speak about
direct action. It is perfectly legal, secure, and desirable that people speak
out in support of the A.L.F. and direct action. The danger lies in linking A.L.F.
actions to the names of individual activists or groups.
Veteran A.L.F. activists only allow a select few to
know about their involvement with the A.L.F. And those few consist of the cell
members who they do the actions with AND NO ONE ELSE!
The reason for these
security precautions is quite obvious: if people don't know anything, they can't
talk about it. It also means that only the people who know the secret can also
face jail time if the secret gets out. But when activists who do not share the
same serious consequences knows who did an A.L.F. action, they are far more likely
to talk after being harassed and intimidated by the authorities, because they
are not the ones who will go to jail. And even those people who are trustworthy
can often be tricked by the authorities into revealing damaging and incriminating
information. So it is safest for A.L.F. members to keep their involvement in the
A.L.F. amongst themselves. The fewer people who know, the less evidence there
is to bust them.
Knowing what we
now know about A.L.F. security, it is obvious to spot those activists who compromise
our movement's security.
Those people who tend to be the greatest security
risks (by speaking about the forbidden topic) are those activists who have low
self-esteem and strongly desire the approval of their peers. Certainly it is natural
to seek friendship and recognition for our efforts, but it is imperative that
we keep these selfish desires in-check so we do not jeopardize the safety of other
activists or ourselves. People who place their desire for friendship over the
importance of the cause can do serious damage to our security.
these people might adopt the following security-compromising traits in an attempt
to impress others:
Liars-- To impress other activists, they claim to have
done A.L.F. actions. Such lies not only compromise the person's security--as cops
will not take what is said as a lie--but also hinders movement solidarity and
Gossips-- Some weak characters think they can win friends because
they are privy to special information. These gossips will tell others about who
did what action or, if they don't know who did it, guess at who they think did
what actions or just spread rumors about who did it when they really have no clue.
This sort of talk is very damaging. People need to remember that rumors are all
that are needed to instigate a grand jury. Usually gossips are also liars which
only worsens the situation.
Braggers-- It is possible that some people who
partake in illegal direct action might brag about it to their friends in an attempt
to receive respect and admiration. If someone did such a thing, it would not only
jeopardize the bragger's security, but also that of the other people involved
with the action (as they may be suspected by association), as well as the people
who he told (they can become accessories after the fact). An activist who brags
also sets a horrible example to other activists.
are people who make a big production on how they want to remain anonymous, avoid
protests, and stay "underground." They might not come out and say that
they do illegal direct action, but they make sure everyone within ear-shot knows
they are up to something. They are no better than braggers, but they try to be
more sophisticated about it by pretending to maintain "security." However,
if they were serious about security, they would just make up a good excuse as
to why they are not as active, or why they can't make it to the protest (that
kind of lying is acceptable). But it is doubtful that these people ever really
Educate to Liberate
So what do we do with people
who exhibit these traits? Do we excommunicate them from our movement? Actually,
no--at least, not for a first offense.
The truth is there are numerous security-ignorant
people in the movement and others who have possibly been raised in a "scene"
that thrives on bragging and gossiping. It doesn't mean these people are bad,
but it does mean they need to be educated. And that's where those of you who are
reading this article can help.
We must NEVER let a breach in security occur
without acting to correct it. If an acquaintance of yours is bragging about doing
an action or spreading security-compromising gossip, it is your responsibility
to explain to her or him why that sort of talk violates security and is inappropriate
within the animal liberation movement.
However, it is important that this
person is educated in such a way that they are willing to listen and use the information--in
other words, it should be done without damaging their pride. This means that while
educating them you must first and foremost have respect and concern for the well-being
of the individual. Do not maintain a "vegan-than-thou" attitude. Remember,
the goal of educating them is to change their behavior, not boost your ego by
showing them how much more security-conscience you are.
attitude will inevitably raise their defenses and prevent them from absorbing
or using any of the advice you offer. Instead, you should be humble and sincerely
interested in helping that person become a better person and a more effective
activist. If possible, the educational session should also be done in private,
so the person does not have to contend with the humiliation of a public reprimand.
The educational reprimand should also be done as soon as possible after the mistake
to increase its effectiveness.
If each of us takes on the responsibility
of educating those who slip up, we can dramatically improve movement security.
Once people recognize lying, gossiping, bragging, and indirect-bragging as the
damaging character-flaw that it is, it will quickly end. And when we develop a
culture where all breaches of security result in an immediate reprimand, all sincere
animal activists will quickly get with the program.
Dealing with Chronic
So what do we do with activists who repeatedly violate
security precautions even after multiple educational sessions? It's unfortunate,
but the best thing to do with these people is cut them loose and kick them out
of the organization. With A.L.F. activists being given decade-long sentences and
government harassment on the increase, the stakes are too high to allow chronic
repeat-security-offenders to work among direct action activists.
the above security culture is an effective way of dealing with informers and agents
who try to "infiltrate the A.L.F." Imagine an informer who, every time
she asked another activist if they were in the A.L.F., received a reprimand and
an education on security. That informer would get frustrated really easily. Furthermore,
once the activists discovered she continued to violate security precautions after
being repeatedly educated, they would have grounds for her dismissal. And that
would be one less informer for us to deal with!
Adopt a Security Culture
We, the militant animal liberationists, are restless. We are adopting
more and more effective tactics. The highly effective A.L.F. actions are on the
increase. Now, more than ever, we pose a serious threat to the status quo which
so happily grinds up the mutilated bodies of our animal brethren. Our increased
activity and effectiveness means that the FBI, ATF, and local police will continue
to escalate their COINTELPRO activities against us. If we want our direct action
movement to continue, it is imperative we start tightening our security and taking
ourselves more seriously. Now is the time for the animal liberation movement to
adopt a security culture. Please do what you can in your local area to see that
this is implemented.
For more information on what your rights are as an
activist read: War at Home: Covert Action against U.S. Activists and What We Can
Do About It and If an Agent Knocks: Federal Agents and Your Rights.
are available from the Animal Liberation League.