In Tuesday's paper, William Tonsgard Jr. accused Greenpeace of "terrorist activities." The rest of the letter is his usual routine, but I want to address his use of the word "terrorist."
Terrorists use physical force to intimidate. Physical violence for a political agenda is the essence of terrorism. Trivializing such a word to further an economic agenda weakens the word and dilutes public response to real acts of terrorism. Greenpeace can tell us firsthand what real terrorism is. Last month was the anniversary of French commandos planting limpet mines on the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior and sinking her in Auckland Harbor, New Zealand. In doing so, they murdered Fernando Pereira, the ship's photographer and a father of two children.
All the world heard how a woman named Dominique Prieur, a lieutenant from the French secret service, joined Greenpeace, worked at stuffing envelopes and so forth while she was casing the ship for the underwater explosives experts. Three commandos in a yacht and a fourth, Maj. Alain Mafart, committed the first terrorist act in the history of New Zealand. At 10 to midnight, with the crew aboard and some asleep in cabins, the first charge went off, blowing a hole the size of a car in the engine room. As the crew abandoned ship, Pereira went below for his documentary films and was caught by a second explosion. He's dead.
New Zealand authorities found evidence of explosives in scrapings from the yacht's bilge and filed warrants but the yacht got away for Tahiti. It was never heard from again. It is supposed the yacht was scuttled at sea and the men were picked up by the French nuclear submarine that appeared in Tahiti a few days later. The commandos from the yacht turned up in Paris a few months later. They never were tried. After denying it all for months, France's prime minister admitted the whole thing in face of overwhelming evidence. He said the commandos were acting under orders. Dominique and Mafart were tried in 34 minutes flat. Mafart was home by Christmas of the next year and Dominique five months after that. A New Zealand Maritime Museum has a Web site about "The Rainbow Warrior Affair."
Greenpeace people visiting Southeast Alaska have been warm and open and welcoming. They are here by their initiative, integrity, guts and public donations. Stand any six of them side by side with the six U.S. government spooks who followed them around our state at huge taxpayer expense and tell me which worries you more.