Washington, DC—Tax-exempt animal rights charities like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and its medical front group the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) have an undeniable hand in encouraging and funding violent activity among some of the nation’s most serious domestic terror groups. So wrote Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) Executive Director Richard Berman this week, to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT). During a hearing on Tuesday titled “Animal Rights: Activism vs. Criminality,” Hatch read Mr. Berman’s letter into the record, aloud and in its entirety.

Chilling words came earlier during the hearing from John E. Lewis, the FBI’s Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism: “The Animal Liberation Front … is our highest domestic terrorism investigative priority.” Lewis detailed animal rights activists’ use of “improvised explosive devices” and “threats of more, larger bombings and even potential assassinations of researchers, corporate officers and employees.”

The Center for Consumer Freedom’s letter built on this testimony, drawing clear lines between underground violence and its above-ground activist support network.

“A disturbing current of violence runs beneath the surface of ‘mainstream’ animal rights groups in the United States,” Senator Hatch read before the gallery. “And some of these tax-exempt charities are providing ‘material support or resources’ to groups and individuals whose activities fit the U.S. Criminal Code’s definition of ‘domestic terrorism’.”

Hatch called Mr. Berman’s letter “startling,” and concluded the hearing by noting that if the Center for Consumer Freedom’s claims are true, “action must be taken.”

» Click here to view .pdf of letter sent to Senator Hatch