Here's a marvelous account of happenings that occurred during yesterday's Senate hearings, which can be read in the Americans for Medical Progress newsletter of October 27, 2005 (subscription required).
In particular, Dr. Jerry Vlasak was eaten alive — he stumbled in his testimony, at first seemingly reluctant to say clearly before the senate committee what he so clearly said in other venues: that he finds assassinating scientists to be morally acceptable, if that were to save animal lives (to Dr. Vlasak, and all Animal Rights zealots, the life of an animal and that of a human are of equal value):
Dramatic and passionate interchanges by two U.S. Senators with animal rights militant Jerry Vlasak highlighted yesterday’s hearing by the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works on the illegal terrorism campaign run by SHAC and its followers against the use of research animals in medicine.
Committee Chairman James Inhofe, (R-OK) announced that he would file legislation this week and vowed to work to get it passed “and give the FBI and the Department of Justice the necessary tools to stop this type of perversion in our society.” Senator Inhofe proposes amending the Animal Enterprise Protection Act to address several gaps and ambiguities in the law that make it difficult to prosecute some of the recent criminal activity against research facilities and their business partners.
The hearing was called specifically to investigate the decision by the New York Stock Exchange to “delay” the listing on the NYSE of Life Sciences Research, Inc., the parent company of Huntingdon Life Sciences. Most observers believe the NYSE executives acted because of their concern about threats of violence by extreme animal rights groups, including SHAC.
While representatives of the NYSE, the FBI and Department of Justice testified before the Committee, and an executive of Life Sciences Research and one of the company’s market makers offered vivid and compelling witness to the threats to which they and their families and staffs have been subjected, the extreme bent of the animal rights philosophy and the violent nature of the activists’ campaign against biomedical research were made extraordinarily clear in the question and answer session following Animal Liberation Press Officer Jerry Vlasak’s prepared testimony. Senator Inhofe and fellow committee member, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D - NJ) seemed incredulous at times as they questioned Vlasak about his radical beliefs, including what he maintained was the moral justification of killing scientists to save animal lives. [My emphasis . . . ed]
Here is a portion of that segment, when Senator Inhofe questioned Vlasak about his statement at the 2003 Animal Rights Convention in which Vlasak said “I don’t think you’d have to kill – assassinate – too many vivisectors…I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human lives.” :Sen. Inhofe: So you call for the murder of researchers and human lives?
Vlasak: I said in that statement and I meant in that statement that people who are hurting animals and who will not stop when told to stop, one option would be to stop them using any means necessary and that was the context in which that statement was made.
Sen. Inhofe: Including murder, is that correct?
Vlasak: I said that would be a morally justifiable solution to the problem.
Senator Lautenberg, who noted he helped establish the Lautenberg Cancer Center in memory of his father, his uncle and grandfather (all of whom died young from cancer), and in order to help with the search for new therapies for cancer, followed Senator Inhofe’s line of questioning:
Sen. Lautenberg: Dr. Vlasak, you approve of these dastardly acts in the name of liberation, of a liberation movement?
Sen. Lautenberg: Do you have any children?
Vlasak: I have no children. And may I – Just to be clear, I don’t approve of any unnecessary suffering and I wish these things didn’t have to happen…
Notice Dr. Vlasak's qualifier "necessary." It is Dr. Vlasak who Dr. Vlasak believes should define "necessary." To him, it is not "necessary" to take animal lives to help cure disease; but it is "necessary" to take human lives to stop animal experimentation — which is why he openly advocates killing scientists, which he believes to be morally acceptable.
Dr. Vlasak sees himself as his own god — a person whose conscience is infallible and who feels perfectly confident in deciding for himself which lives are forfeitable and for what purpose they are.
Dr. Vlasak would reserve for himself the power of deciding, on the basis of his infallible conscience, who lives and who dies . . .
What a great question — I've often wondered where Dr. Vlasak practiced, and noted with interest that he has never specified a hospital name. You can only imagine how the administrators at Loma Linda Univesity must feel about this . . .Sen. Lautenberg: You do, and what you said confirms this, so I just want to go there. I want to know who you are and what makes you tick, because it is so revolting to hear what you say about murder. These aren’t extermination camps. What is being done whether you like it or not is to try and improve the quality of life for human beings. This isn’t Germany. How do you feel about the people? You said you think that people who have a cause have a right to violence. How about the guys who kill our soldiers and who killed the people in the Trade Towers? They have a cause. Is that okay with you?
Vlasak: No the unnecessary loss of life is never okay with me. But I extend that loss of life to animal life, non-animal (sic) life as well.
Sen. Lautenberg: You are the super moralist. You are deciding where it is right and where it is wrong. There are many people who have causes. Some of them are justified, but to take tactics like the intimidation of people, to spoil their lives or spoil their ability to make a living is an outrageous thing to propose. You are anti-social in your behavior, obviously. But to sit here so smugly and be proud of the fact that you stand by this statement about five or ten lives…if those lives were your kids…maybe you don’t have anyone you love. Maybe you don’t have any kids.
(Vlasak attempted to use the cloak of his M.D. degree to validate his statements. However, he seemed highly reluctant to state where he currently practices medicine:)
Sen. Lautenberg: Where do you practice now?
Vlasak: I practice in the Los Angeles area.
Sen. Lautenberg: You practice at a hospital.
Vlasak: I do, at a number of hospitals.
Sen. Lautenberg: What is your favorite – what is your dominant hospital?
Vlasak: I practice at several hospitals in the Riverside and San Bernardino area.
Sen. Lautenberg: Name one.
Vlasak: Uh, Loma Linda University.
In my opinion, Dr. Vlasak needs professional help, and lots of it . . . he cannot conceive of the possibility that his conscience could be incorrect.(Vlasak pushed his medical background:
I deal in trauma patients, I see people die everyday. I save lives, but I lose lives sometimes as well. I see these people…)
Sen. Lautenberg. But you are willing to take lives. That is the anomaly here. You are willing to say that somebody you don’t know, somebody’s kid, somebody’s parent, somebody’s brother, somebody’s sister – take that life, that’s okay.
Vlasak: These are not innocent lives. [My emphasis . . . ed]
Just a reminder: Dr. Vlasak is a former spokesman for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the PCRM is a has close ties to PeTA.
Skip Boruchin, who makes a market in Life Science Research stock, told the Committee an incredibly personal story of the threats he has endured and the posting of his family and neighbors’ contact information on the internet, making them the subjects of targeting as well. His mother was harassed by phone calls and mail at her assisted living residence. “It is difficult to describe the emotions that accompany actions such as I described,” he told the Committee. “I feel violated, vulnerable, angry and gravely frightened for my family. This is precisely SHAC’s goal – to leverage your love of family, your value of safety, your pursuit of life…removing my freedoms to advance their beliefs.” He vows he will continue to sell LSR shares.
FBI Deputy Assistant Director John E. Lewis, who heads the Counterterrorism Division, noted in his testimony the development of SHAC splinter groups over the past 18 months. “This is most likely an attempt by animal rights extremists to continue the SHAC campaign while appearing to distance themselves from the SHAC organization.” He said despite SHAC’s claims that it is merely an information service or a media outlet, it remains closely aligned with these groups and with the Animal Liberation Front.
Director Lewis told the Committee, “The FBI’s efforts to target these movements in order to prevent and disrupt criminal activity have been hindered by a lack of applicable federal criminal statutes. This is particularly frustrating as we attempt to dismantle organized, multi-state campaigns of intimidation, vandalism, threats and coercion designed to interfere with legitimate interstate commerce, as exhibited by SHAC. While it is a relatively simple matter to prosecute extremists who have committed arson or detonated explosive devices, under existing federal statutes it is difficult, if not impossible, to address a campaign of low-level criminal activity like that of SHAC.”
At the end of the hearing, Senator Inhofe told Vlasak, “If you believe that (animal lives are equated with human lives) in your own heart, which I believe you do, and you have advocated the assassination and murder of human lives, of human beings, of researchers, then I don’t see any reason to go any further with this. I can just assure you that we are going to give law enforcement the necessary tools to stop this type of thing from happening. I can assure you of that. That is not a maybe, that is a definite.”
Our government seems to be taking Animal Rights extremists far more seriously than the government in the England.
I think Mark Bibi, a lawyer for HLS, made the single best point of the day when he said of Catherine Kinney's precipitous reversal of course, when he said this: "A handful of animal extremists had succeeded where Osama bin Laden had failed." (Quote from Debra Saunders' excellent column "Kill the Researchers."
Thanks to AMP for the excellent summary, and the partial transcript of Dr. Vlasak's testimony.
Lautenberg, unfazed, insisted: "You have no right to intimidate people who are engaged in a proper practice under our laws." He put his finger on the animal rights movement's problem: Shadowy groups like Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC -- the focus of yesterday's hearing) are only part of a larger animal rights movement whose entire strategy involves intimidating and terrorizing ordinary Americans.
The CCF piece goes on to note that PeTA is adopting some of the same techniques that SHAC uses:
More recently, PETA has begun to engage in the same kinds of tactics that appear to have given SHAC's masked thugs the upper hand over institutions like the New York Stock Exchange. PETA's anti-chicken protesters have begun venting their spleens at fast-food executives at their homes and churches. And this year PETA is using its teen-oriented bulletin boards to arm a large animal-rights mob with home addresses and phone numbers of executives and their extended family members. Given yesterday's gripping Senate testimony from a stock trader who has been similarly targeted by a relative handful of SHAC activists, it's not hard to imagine what PETA has in mind for people who dare to serve up two-piece dinners.">upper hand over institutions like the New York Stock Exchange. PETA's anti-chicken protesters have begun venting their spleens at fast-food executives at their homes and churches. And this year PETA is using its teen-oriented bulletin boards to arm a large animal-rights mob with home addresses and phone numbers of executives and their extended family members. Given yesterday's gripping Senate testimony from a stock trader who has been similarly targeted by a relative handful of SHAC activists, it's not hard to imagine what PETA has in mind for people who dare to serve up two-piece dinners.
What more can I say?