Green Is the New Red

Green Is the New Red
An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege

Press Reviews


"Green is an expertly detailed, 100-percent factual account of how corporate interests created the term 'eco-terrorism' in the 1980s, then led the march to the passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law that criminalizes and characterizes First Amendment free speech as terrorism. Potter makes a compelling argument that what's happening in the 21st century to the environmental and animal advocates is a replay of Joseph McCarthy's communist 'red scare' of the 1950s."

Earth Island Journal

"In Potter's view, the animal rights and radical environmental movements were beginning to achieve a measure of public appeal that posed a real threat to powerful corporate interests, which lobbied to silence them."

"In Green is the New Red (City Lights), former American Civil Liberties Union staffer Will Potter argues that a Green Scare has infected America. Without denying that many environmentalists have crossed the line separating peaceful dissent from sabotage and violence, Potter makes a strong case that the authorities have exaggerated the threat such activists pose."

Utne Reader

"If you've ever supported an animal welfare or environmental organization, you too may be a suspected terrorist: That’s the chilling take-away from Green Is the New Red, a thoughtfully alarming examination of the U.S. government’s post-9/11 domestic terror probes, which have inordinately targeted progressive-leaning activist groups. Author Will Potter, a journalist whose own low-level activism ran up against Homeland Security, delves deep into the social, political, legal—and, importantly, ethical—issues raised by this new war on 'ecoterrorism.'"

Press Action

"By immersing himself in the issue since the day the FBI visited him in Chicago and through his skills as a newshound, Potter is now a leading expert on the government's crackdown on environmental and animal rights activists. But in Green Is the New Red, he does more than report on the last 15 years of the movement. Potter offers words of wisdom."


"A powerful expose of how civil liberties are being threatened, how big corporations put young activists behind bars. It is truly scary."

Publisher's Weekly

"Potter (a contributor to The Next Eco-Warriors) warns that the U.S. government is using post-9/11 anti-terrorism resources to target environmentalists and animal right activists (in some cases for doing nothing but speaking up). After being threatened with a domestic terrorist label for leafleting, Potter turned to uncovering the "Green Scare" and details here the story of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and controversial protests that resulted in severe jail sentences for participants. Tracing funds from animal-exploiting corporations to Congress and the passing of the big business-friendly Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, Potter reports on an increased usage of the terrorism enhancement in court cases. Citing Freedom of Information Act sources, he reveals that the U.S. government has constructed secret prisons, or Communication Management Units (CMUs), to house suspected terrorists in conditions even more extreme than those of Supermax facilities (which house Zacarias Moussaoui and Eric Rudolph, among others). Potter warns of the crumbling of "the legal wall separating 'terrorist' from ‘dissident' or ‘undesirable,'" and concludes his account with a call to action and a decry of the injustice that results in the "terrorist" label being put on those who threaten American corporate interests. Alarming."

Kirkus Reviews

"In this hard-hitting debut, journalist Potter likens the Justice Department targeting of environmentalists today to McCarthyism in the 1950s. The author argues that culture war is 'at the heart of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, from the Red Scare to the War on Terrorism.' Citing historian Richard Hofstadter, he describes this as '"the paranoid style in American politics"'…the eternal fear…that the American way of life is under attack.' Potter's concern with the targeting of environmental activists began with a personal experience. Although he became a vegan when he was a student at the University of Texas and joined a few activist groups to protest economic sanctions in Iraq, in 2002 he was working as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune. On a whim, he participated in a canvassing campaign organized by a group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, whose aim was to close down the laboratory of Huntingdon Life Sciences, guilty of 'repeated animal welfare violations.' The organizers were arrested for trespass, and shortly thereafter two FBI agents appeared at Potter’s apartment requesting information about the group. He was told that if he refused to cooperate with them, his name would be included on the domestic terrorist list. The author describes how the experience marked the beginning of a personal and political journey that led him to question why environmentalists were being treated as domestic threats on par with terrorists. Though he does not deny that animal-rights groups have been guilty of crimes such as arson, he charges that different standards are used to judge anti-abortion activists and environmentalists 'not because of the nature of the crime but because of the politics of the crime.' Potter left the Tribune and became actively involved in the legal defense of so-called 'eco-terrorists.' A shocking exposé of judicial overreach."

Urchin Movement

"An up-to-date crash-course overview of the history of radical environmentalism as well as a study on the scare tactics that the government, the CIA, and several multi-million dollar corporations use against environmental activists, which share certain similarities with tactics used during McCarthyism and the Red Scare. This book is about the Green Scare – this book is at times scary, at times hopeful, and at all times important."

Austin Examiner

"While the link between separating recyclables and hijacking planes is far from obvious, the labeling of 'eco-terrorism' has been applied to many aspects of this social movement. Named the 'No. 1 domestic terrorism threat' by FBI deputy assistant director John Lewis six years ago, Potter argues that the fear tactics involved in applying such an evocative term to radical activism is an attempt to intimidate that mirrors the Red Scare of the mid-20th century (which was in fact the second wave of the government's anti-Communist focus)."

Indie Street

"At times, the reader might mistake this work of nonfiction for a gripping crime novel, only to remember that everything in here is shockingly true. It is in this way that Potter effectively drives his points home and proves his overarching thesis, that the Justice Department's targeting of environmentalists is near identical to 1950s McCarthyism."