Why Josh Harper Won't Testify to Grand Jury

On Friday, November 17, 2000, animal rights activist Josh Harper was scheduled to be indicted in Portland, Oregon, for refusing to testify before a grand jury. Harper has in the past claimed to be an innocent conduit of information from other, anonymous, activists who have carried out terrorist attacks on animal enterprises. Although apparently not a target of any investigations himself, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Harper to testify before a grand jury investigating such attacks. Prosecutors likely believe that Harper has direct knowledge of who is carrying out Animal Liberation Front/Environmental Liberation Front attacks.

Harper’s own behavior makes it seem likely that he has such knowledge. Harper has repeatedly told animal rights-friendly audiences that he has no idea who is behind the ALF attacks, but refuses to appear before a grand jury and say, “I have no idea who is behind the ALF attacks.” Why?

If you believe Harper, its because his way of protesting the oppressive state. If you read between the lines, however, Harper’s got the best reason in the world for not testifying — he almost certainly does know who was behind the attacks and if he testifies otherwise he would open himself up to later perjury charges.

A recent statement by Harper seems to indicate he knows more than he claims. According to Harper,

This is a first in our movement, and will set a precedent that could be very harmful. The government is essentially saying, “Snitch on your friends or go to jail” Failure to cooperate with a grand jury is going to start costing people years of their lives.

If, as Harper claims, he has no knowledge of who committed several prominent ALF attacks, why would he be forced to snitch on friends before the grand jury? It might come as a shock to animal rights activists, but generally “their my friends” is not considered a good reason not to testify about criminal actions of acquaintances.


Don’t Let Harper’s Jailing Go Unnoticed. Frontline Information Service press release, November 15, 2000.

Josh Harper Statement: Increase the Momentum. Frontline Information Service press release, November 11, 2000.

No-show spurs FBI to arrest Eugene activist. Mark Larabee, The Oregonian, September, 29, 2000.

Josh Harper Statement. Frontline Information Service press release, October 2, 2000.

Are They Really Just Spokespersons?

Are the people who act as “spokespersons” for animal rights terrorists really just innocent bystanders who happen to act as conduits for information after a crime has been committed? Or do they get advance warning of criminal actions and/or engage in the planning and execution of terrorist acts themselves?

Its that sort of line of questioning that Craig Rosebraugh is desperately trying to avoid answering. Rosebraugh is a spokesperson for the ALF/ELF has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury regarding what he knows about a number of prominent terrorist attacks in the United States (Rosebraugh himself has been arrested a number of times at animal rights protests, and by his own account left an animal rights group he founded because of a disagreement over terrorist tactics).

Rosebraugh has been the source of communiques from animal rights and environmental terrorists involved in a number of high profiled crimes. Rosebraugh, for example, was the activists chosen by terrorists to take credit for the December 25, 1999 arson attack against a Boise Cascade regional office that did more than $1 million in damage.

In February of this year, federal agents obtained a search warrant for Rosebraugh’s apartment and apparently seized several computers and a large number of documents (including, according to an Americans for Medical Progress brief on the raid, photographs of a primate facility along with documents that appeared to come from the facility).

The grand jury has subpoenaed three times this year but refuses to testify. If he refuses to testify at a May 24, 2000 session of the grand jury, Rosebraugh could be jailed on contempt charges.

In a unintentionally hilarious press release on his behalf, the North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office pretty much made the grand jury’s case as far as why it might want to question someone who is supposedly only a “spokesperson” for the terrorists. The Liberation Front Press Office claims only to be a conduit for information, but in its press release first informs the readers that,

…you are needed to use any means necessary to send a message to the US government that destruction and exploitation of life for capitalist benefit will not be tolerated.

And then in the next paragraph, in case that message wasn’t explicit enough, the press release urges activists to protest the treatment of Rosebraugh even if that means …

…taking cover action against corporations and entities profiting off the destruction of the environment and exploitation of life, your energy is needed and necessary.

No wonder the grand jury wants to investigate these folks.

There were two other items of interest that are worth mentioning about the Liberation Front Press Office release.

First, the group actually tries to portray itself as concerned about “…the oppressive grand jury system.” Now there may indeed be genuine reasons to reform the grand jury process in the United States, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard the animal rights activists bring it up. In fact, as far as I can remember they have cheered whenever someone was indicted by this “oppressive grand jury system” for violating animal cruelty laws. Does the word “unprincipled” mean anything to these folks?

Second, they cast the attempts by the grand jury to question Rosebraugh as an attack on “freedom of speech.” This is bizarre coming from the “spokespersons” to terrorists who seem more interested in burning buildings to the ground rather than engaging in speech to attempt to persuade others to their views. To the contrary, the animal rights terrorists are interested in anything but free speech.

As PETA activist Bruce Friedrich noted many months ago, the animal rights movement has already all but lost the larger rhetorical battle in the United States. The vast majority of people in the United States today are clearly in the animal welfare camp, favoring eliminating outright cruelty to animals and favoring regulations to reduce animal suffering where it is still necessary, but still embracing the role of animal industries in their lives.

When the animal rights debate is kept on the free speech level, the activists lose, which is why they feel the need to commit acts of destruction. If they can’t actually persuade the American people of the rightness of their cause, maybe they can frighten those in animal industries to leave the business or raise the costs of staying in business to unacceptably high levels.

In this they are no different than the racists of the 1950s and 1960s who tried to use violence to forestall the change in attitudes about racial matters, or the extremists in the contemporary anti-abortion movement who also favor taking “any means necessary” to drive abortion providers out of business since they seem to have lost the larger battle to render abortion illegal (this analogy breaks down only in that respectable mainstream leaders of the anti-abortion cause are quick to denounce the terrorist element in their ranks, while the mainstream leaders in the animal rights movement see to actively court the terrorists and those who support them).

These folks aren’t interested in free speech, but rather in using classic strong arm tactics to silence anyone who dares disagree with them. If Rosebraugh indeed had advanced warning of planned criminal acts or actively participated in such planning, one can only hope a grand jury will get to the bottom of his involvement and return any appropriate indictments.


“Day of Action Against State Repression III Called for May 24.” North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office, press release, May 16, 2000.