Legal Perspectives

Check out these articles and more on the updated “Court” page:

The Trident and International Law, by Judge C. G. Weeramantry (pdf)

If the law is truly to be the custodian of the rights and liberties of present and future generations, anti nuclear civil resistance is the right of every citizen…

International Law Perspectives : Nuclear Free Obligations and Trident II, by Anabel Dwyer (pdf)

Nuclear disarmament in all its aspects is both essential and possible through legal processes: negotiation, treaty-making, adjudication and institution building.

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Jim and Shelley Douglass: How Do We Act for Peace?

Utsumi Shoenin, Bill Bichsel, Sr. Denise, Shelley and Jim Douglass at Y-12 nuclear weapon plant in Tennessee

Utsumi Shoenin, Bill Bichsel, Sr. Denise, Shelley and Jim Douglass

Jim and Shelley Douglass were among the co-founders of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, who purchased 3.8 acres along Bangor’s Trident base in 1977.  As members of the Pacific Life Community, founded in 1975,  they began a campaign of nonviolently resisting Trident.  They were inspired by Robert Aldridge’s resignation as a missile designer for Lockheed following a crisis of conscience as he recognized the first-strike capability and accuracy of the Trident missiles. The Douglasses currently live at Mary’s House Catholic Worker in Birmingham, Alabama, offering hospitality to homeless families and acting for nonviolence and peace.
A short video and talk by Jim and Shelley, and for more information:
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action:

 

All of us live in a world that is at constant risk of destruction.  We humans have created weapons of an unimaginable  magnitude, and we find the making of peace to be unimaginable as well.  Our current administration talks about nuclear disarmament while planning and building new weapons production facilities.  We expect other, smaller nations to forgo nuclear weapons while we continue to build them.  This situation cannot continue indefinitely.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our choice is not between violence and nonviolence.  Our choice is between nonviolence and non-existence.”  It is only a matter of time before someone uses a nuclear weapon, setting off a global nuclear exchange that could end life as we know it.  How are we to live in such a world?

In such a world people of conscience are called to step outside normal boundaries.  It is necessary to awaken the public and to focus our attention on the question of nuclear weapons.  Only if we are aware of the problem can we begin to think of the solution.  In such a world Christians are called to act on the most radical teachings of the Gospels:  “Love your enemies.  Do good to those who hate you.”  In such a world, to be human is to create new ways of speaking truth to those in power.  We are grateful to the Disarm Now Plowshares for their creative action at the Naval Submarine Base Bangor, which remains one of the most heavily armed sites on the planet.  By stepping inside the boundaries of SWFPAC, they have risked their freedom and their lives to remind us of our responsibilities.  Ultimately the choice – survival or destruction – rests with us.  In supporting their action we are challenged to find our own ways of acting to end nuclear weapons.  We must all take responsibility,  just as the Disarm Now Plowshares continue to do.  How will we act for peace?

Shelley & Jim Douglass

Birmingham, AL

Liz McAlister: Reflections on 30 Years of Plowshares Actions

Liz McAlister, co-founder of Jonah House, speaks on the words that command our lives.

Disarm Now Plowshares Arraignment Day

Leonard Eiger’s photo essay slideshow Continue reading

Trident on Trial…Reflections on our Arraignment

Trident on Trial

Reflection on our arraignment–Susan Crane

 

Walking to the courthouse. Abolish Nuclear Weapons!

 

Our plowshares action had been 11 months ago, and today, October 8, we were getting arraigned.  I was expecting to be held in custody, as was Steve, and possibly Bix.   Clothes were packed, sheets folded, keys given back…all manner of preparation in place.

Additionally, I carried with me a motion to dismiss and hoped to make the motion orally in the courtroom. In quick summary I hope to say: “this case involves unjust and illegal weapons of mass destruction, the use of which is a war crime under US and international law, and so our actions were taken to protect a greater good and much higher law than the laws we are accused of violating. Therefore this case should be dismissed immediately.” Continue reading

Disarm Now Plowshares Activists Arraigned

Tacoma, Washington – October 8, 2010

 

Joan Staples blesses the 5 going into court. Photographer Leonard Eiger

– The five plowshares activists who entered the U.S. Navy’s nuclear weapons storage depot in Washington State in November 2009 had their initial day in court.

 

Over eleven months since they entered the U.S. Navy’s nuclear weapons storage depot at Bangor, Washington to symbolically disarm the nuclear weapons stored there, the five Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants faced arraignment on October 8, 2010 in U.S. District Court, Tacoma, Washington before Magistrate Judge Karen L. Strombom.

Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, Steve Kelly, SJ, Lynne Greenwald, Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, and Susan Crane were all present to enter their pleas before Judge Strombom.

The government brought many serious charges against each of the Disarm Now defendants for their peaceful November 2, 2009 Plowshares action.  They include Conspiracy, Trespass, Destruction of Property on a Naval Installation and Depredation of Government Property.

The major consequences for the various individual charges range between 5 and 10 years in prison, and from $50, 000 to $250,000 in fines, as well as up to 3 years of supervised release, and/or up to 5 years probation.

Additionally, the judge made it clear that should the defendants be convicted on multiple charges, the court could order them to serve consecutive sentences, thereby greatly increasing the number of years they might spend in prison.

All defendants entered pleas of “not guilty”, to which each defendant added a personal statement.

Greenwald called “for the end of all wars, and an end to the threat of nuclear war.”  Crane made “a plea for the abolition of nuclear weapons, for the children of future generations.”

Bichsel made his plea “for those who are dying now because of nuclear weapons because of funding going for weapons of mass destruction instead of health care, education, housing, employment and nutrition.  I plea for those dying because of the uranium mining cycle connected to nuclear weapons.”

Crane tried twice to enter a “Motion To Immediately Dismiss Charges and Memo in Support”.  The judge said that she would not hear it, and could not rule on it in these proceedings.  After the arraignment, Crane filed the motion for dismissal, and two others, with the clerk of court.

In their motion for dismissal the co-defendants conclude that, “Because this case involves unjust and illegal weapons of mass destruction, the use of which is a war crime under US and international law, and defendants actions were taken to protect a greater good and much higher law than the laws they are accused of violating, this case should be dismissed immediately.”

They cite numerous laws to show that the Use of Nuclear Weapons is a War Crime under US Law, and state that “Any threat or use [of nuclear weapons] is categorically prohibited and constitutes a war crime, crime against humanity or genocide as defined consistently by the U.S. Criminal Code,” citing the statute for war crimes, 18 USC 2441.

They also reference Article 23 of the Hague Convention IV of 18 October 1907, which applies because nuclear weapons are incapable of distinguishing between civilians and combatants and cause unnecessary suffering.

The Nuremberg Principles, 59 Stat 1544, clearly state that war crimes are committed by anyone who “participates in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of planning preparation, initiation or waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurance.”

Their last reference used to substantiate that the use of nuclear weapons is a crime under U.S. law is 18 USC 1091, which states that “the use of nuclear weapons can also be considered genocide because the weapons destroy, in whole or substantial part, groups of people, in indiscriminate fashion, killing military and civilian alike.

The five Disarm Now co-defendants firmly believe that there is sufficient legal doctrine substantiating their invocation of the necessity defense, and that the “Defendants’ actions are just and not at all illegal,” and therefore the case should be immediately dismissed.

During the arraignment all of the Disarm Now defendants stated that they look forward to the opportunity to discuss the illegality of our nation’s production, maintenance and preparations for the use of nuclear weapons during their upcoming trial.

Before the arraignment approximately 80 Disarm Now supporters gathered in front of the Tacoma courthouse to stand vigil, hand out leaflets about Disarm Now and participate in an interfaith service to bless the Disarm Now co-defendants.

The judge set a trial date for December 7, 2010 at 9:00 AM in the United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Tacoma.  A pre-trial conference date is set for November 22, 2010.

There have been more than 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4 in Old Testament (Hebrew) scripture of the Christian Bible, “God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore.”

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles west of Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads.  In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal.  The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.

The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system.  Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb) and costs approximately $60 million.  The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.  The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead

Contact:  Leonard Eiger, 425-445-2190, subversivepeacemaking@comcast.net

Disarm Now Plowshares Activists Ready For Arraignment

The plowshares activists who entered the U.S. Navy’s nuclear weapons storage depot in Washington State in November 2009 are ready for their upcoming arraignment.

After waiting for over 10 months the five Disarm Now Plowshares defendants, who were only recently indicted by a grand jury for their November 2, 2009 Plowshares action at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific (SWFPAC), are ready to go to court for their arraignment. They will be arraigned on Friday, October 8, 2010 at 1:30 PM in courtroom F before Judge Karen L. Strombom at the U.S. District Courthouse in Tacoma, Washington.

Sr. Anne Montgomery, 83, of Redwood City, California, Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, 82, of Tacoma, Washington, Susan Crane, 65, of Baltimore, Maryland, Lynne M. Greenwald, 61, of Tacoma, Washington, and Steve Kelly,SJ. 61, of Oakland, California, each face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the government’s charges of “conspiracy, trespass, destruction of property on a naval installation, and depredation of government property.” The charges were handed down by a grand jury in early September 2010, ten months after their November 2009 Plowshares action.

The defendants entered Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in the early morning hours of November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, with the intention of calling attention to the illegality and immorality of the existence of the Trident weapons system. During the action they held a banner saying…“Disarm Now Plowshares : Trident: Illegal + Immoral”, left a trail of blood, hammered on the roadway and fences around Strategic Weapons Facility – Pacific (SWFPAC) and scattered sunflower seeds throughout the base. They gained entry to the secure nuclear weapons storage facility known as Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific (SWFPAC) where they were detained, and after extensive questioning by base security, FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), cited for trespass and destruction of government property, given ban and bar letters and released.

Many individuals and organizations have sent messages in support of the Disarm Now defendants.

Dr. David Hall

Dr. David Hall, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Dr. David Hall, past president, Washington state chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility, said of the Disarm Now Plowshares action that, “the challenge of US nuclear weaponry for me is the challenge of knowing we Americans can and will obliterate whole cities, literally millions of innocent lives, if we so choose. Our Trident fleet of nuclear-armed submarines places every city in the world at risk of annihilation within 15 to 30 minutes of our designated leaders giving the command. We must imagine this horror so we can prevent it. People like Bix, Lynne, Susan, Steve and Ann of the Disarm Now plowshares group that entered the Trident submarine base on Hood Canal last November showed the courage and moral clarity to put their lives on the line to break the silence about these weapons of mass destruction. All of us who cherish life and the possibility of worldwide cooperative security owe them immense appreciation for their faithful witness to a future built on love instead of mass murder.”

Thomas Rogers, Captain, USN (Retired) talks with Joe Anderson from Gonzaga Univ.

Thomas Rogers, Captain, USN (Retired) issued a strong statement of support of the Disarm Now Plowshares action saying, “The time for our country to move away from a national security policy based on nuclear weapons is long overdue. Nuclear deterrence became obsolete when the Cold War ended nearly 20 years ago, yet our government continues to rely on this dangerous, expensive, barbaric strategy. I applaud the courage and commitment of the Plowshares Activists in bringing national attention to this most important issue.” Rogers, a former submarine commander, retired in 1998 after a 31 year career. He is currently active in the anti-nuclear weapons movement with the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, WA.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu supports plowshares activists.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wrote a support letter saying, “We know that nations need teachers, schools, books, drinking water, productive farm land, food and shelter. We do not need weapons of war, and we do not need nuclear weapons which threaten to destroy all of God’s creation.” Tutu went on to say that, “If we are to believe the words of our faith, “to love our enemies”, then we must begin to disarm our nuclear weapons. If we believe that every life is sacred, that every person is a child of God, then we cannot bomb their villages and cities with nuclear warheads. The Plowshares movement, a movement of people who take responsibility for the nuclear weapons of their country, and who believe that disarmament is the way to abolish nuclear weapons, is a light in the darkness of the war making around us.”

All five Disarm Now defendants are prepared to face the judge and justify their actions based on both moral and legal reasoning, and welcome the opportunity to speak on their own behalf during the arraignment.

Supporters will join the Disarm Now defendants on the day of the arraignment to walk with them from the Tacoma Catholic Worker to the courthouse. They will then hold a vigil and prayer service in front of the courthouse (located at 1717 Pacific Avenue) in preparation for the arraignment.

There have been more than 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4 in Old Testament (Hebrew) scripture of the Christian Bible, “God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore.”

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles west of Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads. In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.

The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system. Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb) and costs approximately $60 million. The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead. The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.

Leonard Eiger, the contact for this release, can be reached at
subversivepeacemaking@comcast.net  or 425-445-2190
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