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When he and his friends conceived Earth First!, Foreman says, it was a "rambunctious, rowdy period in my life. But when people immediately branded us as radical, I thought, 'O.K., if that's what they think, let's show 'em what environmental extremism is.' " He reluctantly admits to monkeywrenching but declines, on the advice of his lawyers, to be more specific. In Confessions of an Eco-Warrior, Foreman writes: "We are warriors. Earth First! is a warrior society."
Ivan Mathew, one of several assistant U.S. attorneys who have worked on the case over the past two years, said in one court document that "the defendants have made statements that they are prepared to die in [the] cause of their radical movements." In a detention order, U.S. magistrate Morton Sitver wrote that codefendant Davis wanted to cut high-tension power lines and that "he wanted to participate in these type of activity [sic] on a fulltime basis with funding from David Foreman." In the same order, Sitver noted that Davis had told an FBI undercover agent, presumably Fain, that he had "ordered" 50 thermite grenades with $500 given him by Foreman. When asked about this by a reporter, Davis said, "Dave Foreman has done a great deal of good in his life, and I don't want to say anything else."
Baker, Davis and Millett have been indicted for attacks on the Fairfield Snow-bowl ski resort chair lift in Arizona's San Francisco Peaks. The government says that in the attacks, cutting torches were used to sever bolts supporting the lift pylons. The government also has charged that in 1988 these three defendants, plus Asplund, sawed through 29 wooden poles supporting electrical lines to the Canyon Uranium Mine, 13 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, causing two of the poles to fall and creating a power outage at the mine. Baker, Davis and Millett were arrested on May 30,1989, at a power-line tower of the Central Arizona Project, that state's massive water transfer system, while they were allegedly trying to blowtorch the tower's support legs. The prosecution charges that they were on a trial run for planned attacks on the nuclear facilities.
The government will almost certainly seek to portray Foreman as the power behind the scenes in these incidents. But that could be tough to prove. Earth First! prides itself on being an organization only in the sense that its members share the same goal: protecting the earth. In theory, no one reports to another member.
It is likely that the centerpiece of the prosecution's case will be tapes, made by Fain, referred to in a defense motion to exclude certain evidence. On a taped excerpt from a May 5, 1989, conversation, Fain is heard telling Foreman that he had looked at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and the towers carrying the power lines. A voice, identified as Foreman's, then suggests to Fain that "you just go in and take the, uh, nuts off, and they don't fall then. But as soon as, as a storm comes in with wind and everything, it brings it down." And on a tape made on May 13, the same day on which, the government says, Foreman gave $100 to Fain, Foreman says, "That's for you to help fund your, you know, whatever work you want to do."
At 7 a.m. on May 31, 1989, Foreman was asleep in his house in a suburb of Tucson. He had put in earplugs to block out the barking of a neighbor's dog. Foreman's wife, Nancy Morton, was filling hummingbird feeders when four FBI agents, pistols drawn and wearing bulletproof vests, charged into the house and arrested the naked Foreman. Foreman laughs when he says, "I don't do well in the morning under the best of circumstances, and these clearly were not the best of circumstances." A .38 pistol was found under Foreman's bed. Foreman was held in four jails in Tucson and Phoenix over the next three days, before Morton raised his $50,000 bail. Asked recently what it meant to have her husband released in her custody, Nancy said, "It means he's going to be wearing an apron a lot."
The indictment further links Foreman to the alleged conspiracy by charging him with giving copies of Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching to an FBI undercover agent. In adddition to tips on spiking, the book contains such information as the "best techniques" for felling power lines (including "removing bolts from steel towers") and advice on communicating ("Don't openly discuss your illegal activities on the telephone").
Foreman's lawyers have been trying to keep portions of the book from being submitted as evidence, citing First Amendment rights. That didn't wash with U.S. district judge Robert Broomfield. In an opinion delivered on Feb. 26, Broomfield wrote, "Although the First Amendment may provide protection for defendant to write, publish and edit the book and to articulate his views—even controversial ones—he is still bound by the consequences of his conduct."
Spence, in one of the thousands of pages of documents stuffed into eight bulging file folders in the U.S. District Court clerk's office in Phoenix, possibly tipped Foreman's defense when he stated: "It is not an act in furtherance of a conspiracy to discuss the means of a possible crime which others may or may not be planning and in which the defendant plays no part. His position is one of an adviser, not a participant."
One of the handicaps the government may face in prosecuting the case is continuity: The assistant U.S. attorney now in charge, Roslyn Silver, is only the latest of several prosecutors. Then, according to a court document filed by Spence, there is the following observation made by Fain in a statement to fellow FBI agents: that Foreman was not really a perpetrator, but that he needed to be "popped" (arrested and prosecuted) to send a message to other similarly overzealous environmentalists. That could make Fain a less-than-unbiased witness in the eyes of the jury.