U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Statement of Senator David Vitter
Oversight on Eco-terrorism specifically examining the Earth Liberation Front ("ELF") and the Animal Liberation Front ("ALF")
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your leadership in putting this hearing together today. I also want to thank our witnesses for coming to testify about this very important issue.
This an important issue in Louisiana - specifically because Louisiana State University has experienced eco-terrorism twice in the last few years. It caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damages but more importantly has also led the people who work there to fear for their safety.
Over the past three years, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claimed responsibility for two attacks at the Louisiana State University. ALF's first attack at LSU occurred on September 24, 2003, in a School of Veterinary Medicine facility used for inhalation and toxicology research. It is important to point out that no animals were in the laboratory at the time when ALF vandalized this facility. However, ALF vandals spray-painted slogans over several walls and cabinets, destroyed several pieces of expensive laboratory equipment, and generally trashed the entire laboratory causing an estimated $250,000 worth of damage to the property. Research in the laboratory was suspended for about a year as repairs were made. Even more concerning, the faculty and staff suffered fear and depression from ALF's attacks. This psychological harm was considerable and the people working in the facility feared for their safety.
Today, we will hear from other victims who also fear they would be in danger since ALF has a track record of lawless behavior and their home addresses were public record. A few hours after the LSU attack, ALF sent an e-mail to local news media and a LSU student newspaper taking blame for the damage. Sending news of the attacks to an LSU student newspaper, reveals how ALF intentionally targets young members for recruitment. It is necessary to prevent our youth from recruitment by these terrorist activities.
Less than a month ago on April 22nd, 2005, the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for a second attack when ALF entered one of two animal facilities on the LSU campus. This attack occurred at the "Life Sciences" facility in central campus. ALF vandals entered through ventilation grids built into a rear door that is permanently locked and used as an emergency exit only. ALF also broke into another room by breaking the window in the door, reaching in, and unlocking the door. Ten mice and a few cages were stolen from the room. Then, ALF entered another room at the facility and destroyed 9 empty fish tanks. ALF also entered a third room and damaged equipment.
ALF vandals again spray-painted slogans on the walls and on valuable equipment, they threw acetone on the walls to strip paint, and injected epoxy glue into door locks. ALF posted pictures taken from within the facility on their website, moving these from server to server to prevent tracking of the server. This second attack resulted in an estimated $30,000 worth of damage to the property. Again, the faculty and staff suffered psychological harm from the fear of their safety due to this incident.
It is important to point out that ALF actually harmed mice in the facility which resulted in the deaths of the mice. ALF moved the mice from one cage to another, removed their identifying cage cards and made it impossible to identify which groups the mice belonged to. As a result, this necessitated the euthanasia of all 80+ mice in the room, and a repeat of the study. This will set back the research by a year.
I am very concerned and troubled by ALF's destruction and harm towards LSU's faculty, staff and property in these two domestic terrorist attacks. The LSU's attacks are just a few examples of how these domestic terrorists negatively impact individuals and businesses across the nation. Today we will also hear from Mr. David Skorton, President of the University of Iowa who will testify on the attacks at his University. It is wrong for domestic terrorists to commit violent attacks on universities that are involved in research for the development of medicines and procedures that could benefit humans and save lives.
It is only a matter of time until these attacks by domestic terrorists involving arson result in human deaths. We can no longer stand by and accept these attacks - stronger penalties are necessary. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses and gain a better understanding of how these domestic terrorist groups and their activities are a danger to Americans and how these groups attempt to unilaterally change environmental and animal rights policy through their acts of terrorism. Once again, thank you, Mr. Chairman for your efforts to organize this hearing.