FBI Investigated PETA in 1990s Anthrax Plot

| by Dominic Kelly

PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is known around the world as a group that stands up for animal rights. They’ve been in the headlines a lot over the years for various reasons, most notably for criticizing a number of celebrities who wear real fur. Now, PETA is back in the headlines after the group obtained documents showing they were the subject of an FBI anthrax investigation in the 1990s.

Those documents show that federal authorities received a tip that PETA planned to release anthrax at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in 1997.

“I was bowled over by it,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk told The Virginian-Pilot. “It was such a disappointment. I don’t know if someone just hated us, but it’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s total fantasy.”

The FBI would not discuss any past investigation, but did say that it had to do its job and look into the claims.

“Part of PETA’s long-range plan is to infiltrate by gaining employment with various research facilities,” the document reads. “PETA intends to create an incident that would benefit their cause. PETA intends to cause a release of anthrax.”

The document also goes on to say that the group moved their headquarters from Maryland to Virginia in 1996 in an effort to avoid exposure to anthrax.

“It seems the FBI is bent on making those of us who have nothing to do with terrorism fit into its paranoid jigsaw puzzle,” wrote Newkirk in a letter published in the November issue of Harper’s magazine.

The FBI apparently tracked all of Newkirk’s international travel during that time period, as well as monitoring the group’s activities and keeping surveillance on their headquarters. Newkirk also claims that, at one point, the FBI wanted to know about the thickness of the PETA headquarters’ windows and whether they could withstand bullets.