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Tough as they are, most Greenpeacers are nonviolent holdovers from the protest movements of the 1960s. They are pro-feminist and fiercely opposed to the use of guns. Echoes of the hippie era resound in their often simplistic catch phrases. "A Feminist World Is A Nuclear-Free Zone" is one good example.
Other environmental groups agree that Greenpeace's aims are worthy, but some question the organization's tactics, especially on emotionally fraught issues like the killing of seals. In point of fact, there are some 1.4 million adult harp seals in existence, and the annual kill of 180,000 pups at the height of the hunt was hardly a threat to the species. McTaggart and his associates admit to taking an almost Walt Disneyesque approach in their use of cuddly seals as symbols of commerce's cruelty. However, they argue that even if they sometimes exaggerate the case, they do so only to attract allies for the bigger war against nuclear and chemical poisoning of the environment. "We are nonviolent and nonpolitical," McTaggart insists. "We have and will continue to take on every excess of the military-governmental-industrial hierarchy—Communist or so-called Free Enterprise—even if we have to break trespass laws to do so. What the hell, it's everybody's planet."
On Monday, Bernard Tricot released a 25-page report that identified the key characters mentioned in press accounts as French agents. He said he found no evidence that any of them was involved in the sinking itself. "My conclusion is that at no level could I say that anyone was guilty, and at certain levels I can definitely say that no one was guilty," Tricot said. He apparently cleared Hernu and other top Mitterrand aides of involvement in the sabotage, saying, "At the government level, no decision was taken, aimed at damaging Rainbow Warrior."
The investigator said that the DGSE men on Ouvéa were merely there to report on the routes the protest flotilla might take and which boats might join it. The Turenges, he said, were spying on the Greenpeace crew and were "more interested in the people on the boat, than the boat itself."
Tricot's interpretation of the incident as a mere matter of espionage rather than sabotage was not swallowed by everyone. New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange said, "The report is too transparent to merit the description of whitewash." The New Zealand government had earlier said it had solid evidence linking the French with the sinking. In France, critics pointed out that Tricot did not have access to all intelligence information that a parliamentary inquiry would have had. Tricot himself admitted he had no idea whether any of the intelligence authorities he interviewed lied to him.
Nevertheless, Tricot's report obviously bolstered Mitterrand, who had ordered the French military to repel—"with force if necessary"—any ships that come within the "forbidden zone" around Mururoa.
For his part, McTaggart welcomed the challenge. Last week a new Greenpeace flagship sailed from Amsterdam for a late September rendezvous with the Vega and two other Greenpeace ships off Mururoa, where it all started more than a decade ago. The new ship is a 900-ton, 190-foot oceangoing tug from the Chesapeake Bay. It was donated by the Association of Maryland Pilots and is called Greenpeace. The final confrontation between French arrogance and McTaggart's steely intransigence is yet to come.