Disarm Now Plowshares trial day 3: The defense makes its case

Tacoma, Washington, Wednesday, December 9, 2010: In a packed courtroom the trial of the Disarm Now Plowshares went into its third day with the prosecution resting and the defense making its case.

The government’s line of questioning continued to document the damage and the associated financial costs to its facilities and fences at Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific (SWFPAC).

In cross examination both Susan Crane and Bill Bichsel introduced situations in which fences are illegal. Crane said to Jason Stark who was in charge of repairing the SWFPAC fence alarm system, “I was thinking in Germany in WWII there were concentration camps and fences around them.” She asked Stark how he would feel about taking care of fences like that.

Anne Montgomery , RSCJ, invited the jury and all present in the courtroom to join in community to abolish nuclear weapons. “We felt that we could show a way for people who feel isolated and helpless, show that we are vulnerable too, we are afraid, but we had hope, walked through that to find freedom from the prison of fear and isolation.”

The first defense witness was Scottish Trident Ploughshares activist Angie Zelter, who has been acquitted for Ploughshares actions in Scotland. In response to the question of whether she and the defendants share a sense of urgency about nuclear weapons, she answered, “Yes. We have had conversations about the number of accidents and how nuclear weapons are proliferating. The U.S. and U.K. expect others to not have nuclear weapons and are still relying on them themselves. Yes, it felt very urgent.”

The next witness was Steven Leeper, Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. When asked if he had encouraged the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants in any way he said, “Yes, I told them, ‘Yes, do anything you possibly can to bring this to the consciousness of the world, because Americans more than any other people in the world are unconscious of what’s going on.’ ”

Captain Tom Rogers, Retired, is a 31 year career naval officer who commanded nuclear submarines for three years during the Cold War. He said that if he as commander was ever ordered to launch strategic nuclear missiles, this would be contrary to what he knows of the laws of armed conflict, which state that a commander is responsible for following the rules of humanitarian law. “That commanding officer is powerless, and that’s an awful feeling.”

Dr. David Hall is board member and former President of the Washington State Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. When asked his impression of Disarm Now Plowshares Hall said, “I’m very impressed with the humanitarian core of your motive.” When asked what his understanding of what those core beliefs are he answered, “Life is sacred… above all else, do no harm.”

Michael Honey holds the Fred T. and Dorothy G. Haley Endowed Professorship in the Humanities at the University of Washington, Tacoma. When asked if Bill Bichsel is making a difference he said, “He doesn’t let silence prevail. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. You must speak out. The whole history of social justice is built on that.”

Each night after trial there has been a potluck gathering with the members of Disarm Now Plowshares and distinguished speakers. Tonight’s speaker was Anabel Dwyer, Member of the Board of Directors of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and pro-bono advisory legal counsel to Disarm Now Plowshares. In her talk she said that no one has the authority to commission, build, deploy, or use weapons of mass destruction. Members of Disarm Now Plowshares are exposing war crimes committed at Bangor, and the jury should convict the real criminals.

Tomorrow Disarm Now Plowshares continues to present its case.

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