The FBI apparently wanted to tie Davis and Foreman to each other and to a violent act directed at America's nuclear power industry. Obviously the headlines from sabotage linked in the reader's mind to nuclear meltdowns would be much more convincing than publicity regarding monkey-wrenching of something as mundane as water canals. The public-relations bonanza of radioactive terrorism was incalculable to the FBI's goal of eliminating Dave Foreman and Earth First!.

And that was, and is, the government's goal, if you can believe Special Agent Mike Tait.

On his final visit to Foreman, FBI agent Tait accidentally tape-recorded a conversation between himself and another agent. After picking up the $100 at the Earth First! yard sale, the two federal officers talked:

Tait: "In actuality we really ought to give [Earth First!] their money back when it's over because they don't really say what it's for. They are low-budget. I don't really really look for them to be doing a lot of hurting people, it's just that they get a few guys like this that'll . . . like Davis . . . "

Second agent: "Who freelance."
Tait: "Yeah. That's what it is, see, and . . . 'cause this [Foreman] really isn't the guy we need to pop, I mean, in terms of actual perpetrator. But this [Foreman] is the guy we need to pop to send the message and that's all we're really doin' and if we don't nail this guy [Foreman] and we don't get Davis, we're not sending any message. In the Rendezvous [the annual gathering of Earth First! followers] last year, he [Foreman] said somebody ought to be prepared to give his life this year and somebody ought to be prepared to do hard time."

Second agent: "Oh, really?"
Tait: "Yeah."
Second agent: "[Inaudible]."

Tait: "These people are dedicated. They just don't have any money. That is why the yard sale to help put together their legal defense. Unless it's done for nothing . . . it's the old Sixties stuff."

Second agent: "Do they have a beef right now that they need a defense fund . . . ?"

Tait: "They are always doing civil disobedience, getting arrested, so they need that and they have what they call their direct-action fund where . . . they are always giving money to this and their direct-action fund is for illegal activities."

Then Tait considers what he's shared with the other agent and adds, "We don't need that on the tape . . . oh boy."

But it is on tape. You bust Foreman, you bust Davis, you send a message. What is the message?

It will take several months in court to dope out the final answer, but in the meantime one signal is abundantly clear: If you think the twentieth anniversary of Earth Day called for something more meaningful than musical tie-ins on MTV, if you are alarmed over the increasing levels of radioactive waste, you'd better confine your anger to letter-writing campaigns.

To be continued

Earth First! was most dangerous when it insisted that acts of environmental civil disobedience be salted with outlandish humor and sarcasm.

They dug post holes in the wilderness roads, poured quick-drying cement in the pits, and then jumped into the jelling muck up to their knees.

With the sort of diligent effort one likes to see in a federal official, the FBI agent was finally able to help Mark Davis realize one of his fantasies.

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