FREE SPEECH — Is the FBI hounding Santa Cruz area animal rights activists engaged in demonstrations, leafleting and chalking and threatening them with prosecution for terrorism just to scare them into being informants?  Will Potter, writing at, thinks so.

The critical step in this process is for law enforcement to use what
little evidence they have to scare the living hell out of those
arrested. They use threats of outlandish prison sentences and terrorism
rhetoric in order to create government informants, or snitches. They
then continue that pattern of threats and fear-mongering with each
subsequent arrestee, until they have enough to move forward with a
case. This snitch-based model of police work (as opposed to gathering
evidence, witnesses and leads is notoriously unreliable and often illegal.

As this case moves forward, I have no doubt that federal prosecutors
and law enforcement will, if they haven’t already, offer some kind of a
plea agreement in exchange for cooperation. They’ll say something like:
“We can offer you a way out of all this. Look, you’re facing prison
time as a terrorist. And once you get out, you’ll always be a
terrorist. We know you have good intentions, and you’re just worried
about the animals. If you help us, maybe by wearing a wire, or offering
up some names of others in this campaign, we can make it all go away.”