Today the Committee on Environment and Public Works will discuss the Committee’s investigation into Eco-terrorism. This hearing, the second installment in a series of hearings, will focus on Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (“SHAC”), a radical animal rights organization that relies on crimes of violence and a campaign of fear to convey their message of animal liberation. SHAC evolved with the purpose of ruining a contract research organization called Huntingdon Life Sciences (“HLS”) also known as Life Science Research, a New Jersey-based company that conducts EPA and FDA mandated testing on animals. This testing may, some day, provide us the cure for cancer, AIDS, blindness – the possibilities are endless and we, as the Congress, have determined that this testing is necessary to ensure the safety of our consumers.
Our first two witnesses – John Lewis, Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division for the Federal Bureau of Investigations and Barry Sabin, Section Chief of the Counterterrorism Division of the Department of Justice are here to explain SHAC’s revolutionary tactics used to pressure people through “tertiary” or “third party” targeting to stop any and all business with HLS. SHAC targets all HLS service providers and clients under the theory that without them, HLS cannot operate. SHAC is able to effectively bully companies by using extremely dangerous and frightening tactics including the use of bombs, arson, violence against people and property, intimidation, and harassment. We have a chart that depicts HLS’ CEO who was attacked with baseball bat by SHAC.
SHAC calls these tactics “direct actions” and its level of violence and propensity for harm has led the FBI to include SHAC along with the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front as the most serious domestic terrorist threat today, having committed over 1,200 acts of terror and over $200 million in damages. There is a need for tighter yet concise legislation to curb this criminal activity that, up to date, has been impervious to law enforcement authorities. Such legislation will close the gaps in the criminal code that have allowed SHAC, working with multiple other animal rights groups, the freedom to terrorize people.
Mark Bibi, General Counsel of HLS, will inform us about not only the years of terror that HLS executives, scientists, and other employees and their family members have endured as SHAC’s primary target, but also the costs associated with operating a research entity because of SHAC. Notice the chart that illustrates multiple scientists’ homes that were attacked. Coupled with the loss of research, loss of scientists, and security costs is the interference with HLS’ ability to compete in the financial markets. Just last month HLS was to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange only to find out at the 11th hour that the Exchange refused to go through with the scheduled listing because of threats from SHAC. Here is a chart illustrating the SHAC website threatening the NYSE. When this happened on September 7, I sent a letter to the New York Stock Exchange cautioning them on such an important decision and expressing my concerns about setting a dangerous precedent. As I said in my letter, it seems to me unimaginable that this country’s worldwide symbol of the integrity of the capital markets, the NYSE, would capitulate to threats, or even the mere threat of threats, from a single issue extremist group. Appeasing these groups only validates the effectiveness of their tactics and inspires them to replicate this model of activism in some other venue. What then happens when activists move to the timber, defense, or some other controversial industry? Today we will seek information from the New York Stock Exchange about this decision.
One of my constituents, Stephen (“Skip”) Boruchin from Oklahoma, endured several years of SHAC’s terror along with his family and employees and he is with us today to tell his story. Skip’s home and office – notice these charts - were attacked by SHAC and ALF. Finally, the Committee will hear from animal rights activist, Dr. Jerry Vlasak. Dr. Vlasak is highly controversial since he has gone on record advocating the end of biomedical research using animals by any means possible – including the assassination of scientists. In fact, Dr. Vlasak has been banned from the UK for such volatile statements.
We need to understand and assess the dangers associated with a research culture that is under attack. If researchers do not receive protection and the opportunities to fairly compete will they leave the United States for places like India and China? These are questions we must seek the answers to in order to determine the best response to this troubling issue. Consequently, I am introducing legislation today that will assist law enforcement in their plight to combat the criminally based SHAC campaign which targets innocent and necessary actors in an industry that promotes innovation and discovery.