Media Go to Him for Analysis
Of Environmental Violence
The FBI Hasn't Spotted
By Bob Ortega

03/02/99
The Wall Street Journal
Page A1
(Copyright (c) 1999, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

EUREKA, Calif. -- From an old logging-company office deep in redwood

country here, Barry R. Clausen runs the investigations that he says
have made him America's leading authority on "eco-terrorists."

"We've documented 2,000" cases of violent environmentalism over the
past decade, Mr. Clausen says. "But I'd estimate it's closer to 4,000."

By his own account, Mr. Clausen has infiltrated radical
environmental groups, staked out logging protests and helped bust a drug ring. He
has testified before Congress about a rising tide of eco-terror, has
been quoted scores of times in the national and international press and has
appeared, he reckons, on 150 talk radio shows. Last fall, when a group calling
itself the Earth Liberation Front took credit for torching some ski-resort
buildings in Vail, Colo., on behalf of the lynx, CBS News had Mr. Clausen on
television
three times in a day.

"I get calls every day from people wanting information, including
the feds," Mr. Clausen says. "I feel good about what I've done."

Not everyone does, though, and that has made Mr. Clausen a
controversial figure in the endless battles between environmentalists and
industry, particularly in the West. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and
many other law enforcers don't see any sign of the surging eco-terror Mr.
Clausen describes. Pressed, he acknowledges that his list of documented
terror incidents includes graffiti and pie-throwings. Even some supporters
say he sometimes stretches the truth.

"I've chewed him out about that," says Bill Pickel, head of the
Washington Contract Loggers Association, which helped fund Mr. Clausen 's
infiltration of the activist group Earth First! -- and eventually pulled the plug on
him because, Mr. Pickel says, "he wasn't getting anywhere."

How Mr. Clausen became the man the media turn to on eco-terrorism is
a tale almost as rich as any of his adventures as a gumshoe. It says
something about how the media operate, too.

Mr. Clausen tells of a troubled childhood in Seattle, where as a
16-year-old he was arrested for car theft. Later, he worked for 14 years as a
railroad engineer in Montana. In 1985, he moved to Dallas to sell computers.
There,
he says, he stumbled across a cocaine ring. "I was fascinated by
undercover
work," he says, so he began working as an informant for the U.S.
Drug
Enforcement Administration. His tips helped "convict several guys --
they
caught one with 12 kilos of cocaine in his car," he says.

But in a 1992 deposition in a civil lawsuit in Montana state court,
Mr.
Clausen said he never worked for the DEA. Asked about that, Mr.
Clausen
clarifies, "I worked with them, not for them." DEA officials
declined to say
whether Mr. Clausen ever assisted the agency.

The Montana civil lawsuit stemmed from a scrape in 1987. Mr. Clausen
had
been charged in a criminal case with stealing a rancher's assault
rifle and
turning it into a fully automatic weapon. Mr. Clausen denies any
wrongdoing,
and says he was acting as an informant. Charges later were dropped.
Mr.
Clausen won an out-of-court settlement in the civil lawsuit he
subsequently
filed against his accusers.

He hooked onto the environmental movement while maintaining trails
for the
U.S. Forest Service. After hearing complaints of vandalism that
loggers
blamed on Earth First!, Mr. Clausen offered to go undercover for
timber trade
groups.

Mr. Clausen didn't get anyone arrested, but did produce "Walking on
the
Edge," a 306-page book about his year infiltrating the group. The
account
mostly details demonstrations and one "tree sitting." His marital
difficulties
were also prominently featured. Mr. Pickel of the Washington
Contract
Loggers Association says it published about 5,000 copies, but it
wasn't a
blockbuster. "We got 2,000 left," he says. "You want one?"

Mr. Clausen won national attention in 1995 when he told reporters he
could
connect Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, to Earth First! He
claimed that
a Montana law officer leaked to him documents showing that Mr.
Kaczynski
attended a 1994 environmental gathering with Earth First! members,
and that
two Unabomber victims were on a corporate "hit list" in an extremist

publication. Scores of news outlets picked up the allegations,
putting Mr.
Clausen in the national media Rolodex.

As it turns out, the "hit list" named sponsors of a conference of
timber,
mining and ranching interests and called for boycotts, graffiti and
vandalism,
but not violence. The environmental gathering, meanwhile, was
actually a
forestry conference attended by the U.S. Forest Service,
Weyerhaeuser Co.
and Louisiana-Pacific Corp., among others. Conference organizers say
Mr.
Kaczynski wasn't there, and federal investigators never verified his
presence.
Earth First! denies any connection to the Unabomber. Mr. Clausen
says
that, to protect his source, he won't disclose his proof. "There's
no question
in my mind that the Unabomber was there," he says.

Mr. Clausen cultivates his press contacts through frequent barrages
of faxed
tips. But his thousands of eco-terror incidents include mostly
vandalism and
nonviolent protests and similar actions. As for pies flung in faces
of corporate
executives and politicians, "that's assault," Mr. Clausen says. The
list
attributes to eco-terrorists many incidents that law-enforcement
officials say
they don't know who committed, such as the arson at a U.S. Bureau of
Land
Management building in Nevada in 1993. A lot of federal officials
figure that
was just as likely the work of antigovernment right-wing types.

Serious episodes do happen, such as the Vail arson, which caused an
estimated $12 million in damage and thrust Mr. Clausen into the
media
spotlight again. In addition to CBS, the New York Times, National
Public
Radio, the Associated Press and many other news outlets featured
him. In
general, they now say they didn't know much about Mr. Clausen 's
background, or his terror list. Most say they found him through news

databases or Internet searches that turned up previous Clausen
quotations.
"He seemed very credible," says Paulette Brown, a "CBS This Morning"

producer who booked Mr. Clausen on that show. Joe Garner, a reporter
at
the Rocky Mountain News, says that he wasn't familiar with Mr.
Clausen 's
history, but that the man was hard to miss when the subject was
eco-terrorism. "Everybody gets his phone number," says Mr. Garner.

Agents at the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
acknowledge knowing Mr. Clausen , but won't comment on the
usefulness of
his work. Neither agency sees eco-terror as a spreading scourge.
John
Williamson, chief of domestic terrorism analysis for the FBI, says
that "we
have not seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of these
incidents." An
ATF spokesman says there have been "maybe four or five" eco-related
bombings or arsons in the last few years, nothing "widespread." A
spokesman for the National Association of Attorneys General's task
force on
terrorism says the issue of eco-terrorism "hasn't come up."

Mr. Clausen presses on, sometimes thanklessly. Timber-industry
allies
provide his office and computers, but, "basically, I'm broke," he
says.

He can still raise a ruckus, though. Just last week, he spotted an
item in
Earth First!'s magazine criticizing California wineries for lopping
down old oak
trees. Mr. Clausen saw it as a threat by the group to conduct
sabotage, and
indeed, the article's last words mused about the possibility that
some night
someone might sneak in and tear up vineyards planted where old oaks
stood.
Mr. Clausen fired off warnings to wineries and the California Farm
Bureau
that violence might be imminent. Somewhere along the line, his
warning got
misinterpreted as a direct threat from Earth First! itself, and the
local paper in
Santa Rosa, Calif., ran a story last week about possible pending
attacks by
Earth First! against wineries. The AP picked up the story.

The muddle was straightened out two days later, and the farm bureau
and
others now say the threat was overblown. Earth First!'s Darryl
Cherney
denounces the whole affair as a scare tactic and calls Mr. Clausen a

"charlatan."

"It was a mix-up," concedes Mr. Clausen . But he still sees the need
for
vigilance. "I think people are waking up to the truth."










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