“YOU CAN JAIL THE RESISTERS BUT NOT THE RESISTANCE.”

Yesterday’s sentencing of Greg, Megan and Michael, the three members of Transform Now Plowshares, was the culmination of the government’s collusion with the Nuclear Industrial Complex.  It is collusion in the sense that the government is breaking many laws, including international humanitarian law, in its continuing pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the courts cannot help but see and uphold established precedents, including the Nuremberg Principles. Supposed justice was “blind” to the wrong things in this case, and essentially every other case of this kind.

There is no lack of irony in the timing of yesterday’s sentencing. Seventy-one years ago on February 18, 1943 Sophie Scholl and other members of The White Rose were arrested at the University of Munich for dropping leaflets protesting the evils of the Third Reich.  Click here for an article on this piece of history.  Sophie, her brother, and the other members of The White Rose clearly understood the consequences of their actions, should they be caught.

tnp three sentenced

Greg, Megan and Michael also understood the probable consequences of their actions, and took their action with joyful hearts and fully prepared to accept those consequences. Judge Thapar gave all three significant prison time – Megan 35 months, and Greg and Michael each received 62-month sentences.  The judge’s intention by giving such long prison terms was to dissuade others to engage in such actions and instead to pursue “legal” means.

Of course, those of us pursuing nuclear abolition clearly understand the futility of legal means, which we have all tried over and over. As Felice and Jack of The Nuclear Resister said in a recent post about the Transform Now Plowshares sentencing: “YOU CAN JAIL THE RESISTERS BUT NOT THE RESISTANCE.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to our brothers and sister in resistance on the next stage of their journey.

 

Disarm Now Plowshares Blog 2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 57,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 21 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A new book on peacemaking by John Dear

The Nonviolent Life

A new book on peacemaking

By John Dear

 
Available now from www.paceebene.org
 
“In The Nonviolent Life, John Dear articulates a vision of the power, meaning and impact of the spiritually grounded nonviolent life—and invites us to put this into practice in both immediate and long-term ways.”   -Ken Butigan, author and activist
“How can we become people of nonviolence and help the world become more nonviolent? What does it mean to be a person of active nonviolence? How can we help build a global grassroots movement of nonviolence to disarm the world, relieve unjust human suffering, make a more just society and protect creation and all creatures? What is a nonviolent life?”
 

These are the questions John Dear—Nobel Peace Prize nominee, long time peace activist and Pace e Bene staff member—poses in this ground-breaking book. John Dear suggests that the life of nonviolence requires three simultaneous attributes: being nonviolent toward ourselves; being nonviolent to all people, all creatures, and all creation; and joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence.  Nonviolent Life cover JPG

After thirty years of preaching the Gospel of nonviolence, John Dear offers a simple, original yet profound way to capture the crucial elements of nonviolent living, and the possibility of creating a new nonviolent world. According to John, “Most people pick one or two of these dimensions, but few do all three. To become a fully rounded, three dimensional person of nonviolence, we need to do all three simultaneously.” Perhaps then he suggests, we can join the pantheon of peacemakers from Jesus and Francis to Dorothy Day and Mahatma Gandhi.

In his new book, John Dear proposes a simple vision of nonviolence that everyone can aspire to. It will help everyone be healed of violence, and inspire us to transform our culture of violence into a new world of nonviolence!

John Dear is an internationally known voice for peace and nonviolence. He is a popular speaker, peacemaker, organizer, lecturer, retreat leader, and the author/editor of 30 books. He has organized and participated in nonviolent campaigns for over three decades; been arrested some 75 times in acts of civil disobedience against war and injustice; and spent nearly a year of his life in jail for peace. Recently, John was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. For further information, see www.johndear.org

To order The Nonviolent Life:
Visit – www.paceebene.org
P.O. Box 1891 Long Beach, CA 90801
510-268-8765   info@paceebene.org

Roger Hunko’s statement to the court on behalf of Steve Kelly

Steve Kelly, SJ will appear in United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Tacoma, before the Honorable Benjamin H. Settle in the matter of Steve’s violation of the terms of his supervised release.

Steve, being arrested at Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, Good Friday (2103).

Steve, being arrested at Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, Good Friday (2103).

Many of you reading this need no explanation of the reasoning behind Steve’s noncooperation with the terms of his supervised release.  Others might ask why Steve did not simply comply and get on with things; make it easy on himself.  For Steve to do so would be tantamount to cooperating with evil; his deeply spiritually grounded resistance to nuclear weapons knows no boundaries.  Essentially, the court that tried, sentenced and continues to attempt to control Steve holds no moral ground and cannot, therefore, hold any real control over him (other than its ability to continue to bring him into court and hand down sentences, as it will do on Monday).  These physical applications of control are meaningless to a person of such deep spiritual grounding.  Steve truly is untouchable; beyond reproach.  The system that continues with the threat of use of nuclear weapons is morally and spiritually bankrupt, in addition to being illegal under international humanitarian law.  The courts of this land that do not allow defendants like Steve (and other nuclear resisters) to mount reasonable defenses in their cases are NOT doing justice; rather they are defending the indefensible actions of a morally bereft government.

A number of attorneys have given of their time and energy to defend the actions of nuclear resisters.  Roger Hunko is one of these people; Roger was Steve’s standby counsel in the Disarm Now Plowshares trial.  Roger has written some beautiful and powerful words on Steve’s behalf, which are contained in the following statement for Judge Settle’s consideration in tomorrow’s hearing.

With Thanks and In the Spirit of Resistance,

Leonard

******************************

Case 3:10-cr-05586-BHS Document 258 Filed 05/18/13

The Honorable Benjamin H. Settle

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff vs. STEVEN KELLY, Defendant

NO. 10 5586 BHS

DEFENDANT’S DISPOSITION MEMORANDA

__________________________________________

Father Steve Kelly comes before this Court on a violation of his Supervised Release.  The violation is a single count of his failure to report as directed in the original sentence. At the time of his sentence he informed the court that because of his conscience he could not comply with the supervised release provision of his sentence. As a result he did not report.

The sentence of Father Kelly did not come from a desire to commit evil, but to prevent evil. He and his colleagues wanted to peacefully protest our government’s proliferation and maintenance of the World’s largest nuclear weapon arsenal and the most advanced method of deployment. All in violation of international treaties and law. To that end Father Kelly and four comrades in peace cut through the fence at Bangor, Washington. The five committed participants traversed the distance to the area where the nuclear warheads for the missiles were stored. Supposedly Bangor is one of the most secure facilities in the world for storing such weapons of mass destruction. They were able to cut through two more fences without being detected and managed to put up a Plow Shares banner condemning the proliferation of nuclear weapons within feet of the igloos where the warheads were suspected to be stored. It was only after this prolonged journey that the Marines designated to secure the weapons arrived. Even though two of the committed peace activist were octogenarians and the rest were either in or close to their sixties. One of the five was taking nitroglycerin to prevent a heart attack. They were arrested, bags put over there heads and months later charged.

The five represented themselves with stand by counsel. I was standby counsel for Father Kelly. A task I am grateful to the Court for giving me the opportunity to meet this man and to participate in an attempt to assist him in his fight against nuclear weapons.

Father Kelly never denied what he had done. He was arrested while attempting to finish a prayer next to the weapons of mass destruction. He did not deny his purpose. He did not deny why he did what he did. His defense was that he was doing what was morally required to put his government and the general population on notice that the possession and deployment of such non discriminate weapons was a violation of international law and also the higher law of nature. He was not allowed to present that defense. He, of course, was convicted which he anticipated. At sentencing he informed the Court that he could not submit to the supervised release conditions because he felt he was doing the morally responsible acts.

He was arrested for failure to report on March 29, 2013. He has been held on a Federal detainer since that time.

At his first appearance he attempted to admit the violation, but Magistrate Creatura, deferred a finding till Your Honor could hear the matter. Father Kelly does not deny the allegation. He only avers that his conscience will not allow him to submit.

I was appointed to represent him on his supervised release violation

I have been practicing law for the last thirty four years. Almost exclusively in the field of criminal defense. I have never represented a man like Father Kelly, wholly devoted in trying to prevent an evil from hurting his fellow man, whether American or anyone else. A man totally committed to peaceful resistance. A man who is willing to risk his life to show others the right path.
In deciding what I could do to represent a totally conscientious person in a violation where he fully admitted both at sentencing and by his actions afterward that he would not submit to supervised release, I was at a loss. I then thought of going back to philosophers, intellects and others to see what defines a conscientious person.

I came up with the following:

1. Never do anything against conscience, even if the state demands it. Albert Einstien

2. Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but the conscience is eternal and will never die. Martin Luther

3. The person that loses their conscience has nothing left worth keeping. Izaak Walton

4. Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one. Justice Louis D. Brandeis

5. Pity the poor, wretched, timid soul, too faint hearted to resist his oppressors. He sings the songs of the damned, ‘I cannot resist, I have too much to lose, they might take my property or confiscate my earnings, what would my family do, how would they survive?’ He hides behind pretended family responsibility, failing to see that the most glorious legacy that we can bequeath to our posterity is liberty! Old Chinese Proverb

6. Non-violent resistance implies the very opposite of weakness. Defiance combined with non-retaliatory acceptance of repression from one’s opponents is active, not passive. It requires strength, and there is nothing automatic or intuitive about the resoluteness
required for using non-violent methods in political struggle and the quest for Truth. W. Vaughn Ellsworth

7. A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi

8. Any attempt to replace a personal conscience by a collective conscience does violence to the individual and is the first step toward totalitarianism. Mahatma Mohandas K Gandhi

9. What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow; that is the whole Law: all the rest is interpretation. Hermann Hesse

10. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law … That would lead to anarchy. An individual who breaks a law that his conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. Martin Luther King

11. The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. Martin Luther King

12. Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about his religion. Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place. Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero . Tecumseh

I then compared these words to what Robert Oppenheimer said on his successful test of the first atom bomb. “I am Vishnu destroyer of worlds.”

But of course the Court must decide what to do with Father Kelly. In doing so it must consider U.S.C. 18 § 3553. The most appropriate section in this case being Section 6. The need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct.

Under this cause number the Court has already sentenced Susan Crane on a similar violation. The Court ordered her to do 60 days in custody and terminated her supervised release. A similar result should be ordered in this case.

Dated this 18th day of May, 2013.
/s/ Roger A. Hunko
Attorney for Father Steven Kelly

###

Editor’s Note: You can read this entire document as entered into the official public record at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzRG1crlv8YMcGpaQ2w4VEtKaVE/edit?usp=sharing

Ramsey Clark testifies on behalf of the Transform Now Plowshares

Dear Friends,

Yesterday (on April 23rd) the Transform Now Plowshares (TNP) were back in the courtroom this time for a status hearing in which the judge allowed them to call witnesses to provide testimony on the legality of nuclear weapons, the importance of civil disobedience, and other issues.  The judge will then decide whether Megan, Greg and Michael can use the necessity defense and other such defenses to demonstrate that a greater good was accomplished by breaking the law to prevent imminent harm.

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark appeared on behalf of the TNP, and as I read the transcript (see below) of his testimony I was carried back to the Disarm Now Plowshares trial in 2010 in which Clark appeared on their behalf giving another strong testimony before the judge there.  We are blessed by such people as Clark, Bill Quigley (who is part of the legal team assisting the TNP) and others who help bear witness to the immorality and illegality of nuclear weapons, and our nation’s continued threat of use of such weapons of mass destruction (or perhaps one should use the term annihilation).

Ramsey Clark & Sr. Anne Montgomery at the courthouse in 2010

Ramsey Clark & Anne Montgomery at the courthouse in 2010

You can read the transcript of Clarks testimony below (with thanks to Ralph Hutchison of OREPA for providing it). You can keep up with the TNP trial at the Transform Now Plowshares Blog.  You can learn more about the Y-12 facility (where the TNP action took place) and the issues surrounding it at the OREPA Website.

In Peace and Toward a Nuclear Weapons Free World,

Leonard

*********************

HE WALKS AROUND WITH IT BY HIS SIDE

The judge interrupted the questioning of former Attorney General Ramsey Clark as he testified at a hearing in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee in preparation for the Transform Now Plowshares trial in May.

Bill Quigley, counsel for the defense, had just asked Clark if the threat of the use of nuclear weapons was imminent.

“It’s omnipresent,” said Clark.

“Excuse me,” the Judge said. “Are you saying the President intends to use nuclear weapons? Are you in a position to know that? Are you tied in with the President?”

Clark said, “It’s not academic. We continue to build and to modernize these weapons, for what other reason than that we intend to use them?”

“But wasn’t our last use World War Two?”

“No, there has been testing.”

“A fair point,” said the Judge. “But as to an imminent threat—does the President have his finger on the button?”

“Well,” said Clark, “he walks around with it by his side.”

The exchange was one of many during the nearly one and a half hours the 85 year old statesman was on the stand.

What follows is not a transcript following from start to finish. It is a compilation of excerpts that is a true and accurate reflection of the course of the testimony and arguments. Some moments fall away as repetitious, others mundane, and one or two maybe just because my hand was too tired to keep writing.

One bit of news: The trial will begin May 7 as scheduled, but jury selection will begin at 1:00pm on Monday, May 6. The court expects to call 70 prospective jurors for the first round of voire dire and will set up a closed-circuit TV room for the public and press.

===

The occasion was a hearing on the prosecution’s motion to limit testimony at trial. In responding to that motion, the defense asked the judge to hear the testimony, a “proffer” in legal parlance, before deciding. Judge Amul Thapar agreed, and so we found ourselves in Courtroom 1A at the federal courthouse on April 23, 2013.

After dispensing with the niceties—Ramsey Clark was in the Justice Department from the first day of the Kennedy Administration to the last day of the Johnson Administration and he served as Attorney General from September 1966 until January 1969—Bill Quigley, who questioned Clark for the defense, began. Quigley’s questions were primarily aiming to establish that the defendants’ beliefs were reasonable.

=======

IT WILL DESTROY EVERYTHING IN ITS PATH

Quigley: The defendants believe that the nuclear weapons that are manufactured at Y12 are inherently uncontrollable and indiscriminate. Is that a reasonable belief?

Clark: Yes.

Quigley: Can you explain?

Clark: It is widely known to be true.

Judge Thapar: They are indiscriminate, no one would argue with that. But uncontrollable, do you have scientific evidence or knowledge of that?

Clark: I haven’t thought of it as a physics matter. What happens when you release the energy in a thermonuclear bomb is uncertain.

Judge: So if you drop it, you can’t control the harm.

Clark: It will destroy everything in its path.

Judge: But only on release.

Clark: It is extremely dangerous. If someone were to get ahold of one.

Judge: Yes, when released. But if the government secures them…

+++++++

YOU WILL DESTROY LIVES THAT ARE PROTECTED BY THE RULES OF WAR

That may have been the moment when it became clear how the day was going to go for the government. After the whole thing was over, a local reporter who has been following the case closely said it seemed to him the tables had turned and it was now the government that somehow was under indictment.

“If the government secures them…” the Judge had said.

Ramsey Clark took it up for him. “If you assume the government does its job. But if people can just walk in there, as these people did, people who were not equipped as, say, Rangers or Navy seals.”

Judge: But how easy would it have been to steal?

Clark: They were seventy-five to eighty percent there. All they had to do was get a truck and steal one.

Judge: Well, I don’t think they were ever standing next to one.

Clark: No, but if they were experts at breaking and entering, how hard could it have been to get in once they got where they got.

Bill Quigley took the steering wheel back from the judge. “Back to uncontrollable when they are used. The defendants believe indiscriminate weapons are illegal under US military code. Is that a reasonable belief?

Clark: By definition it follows they are illegal. If you can not control the direction of the blast, you will destroy lives that are protected by the rules of war.

++++++

WE DON’T BUILD THEM TO STORE THEM

Quigley: The defendants believe these weapons, by design, present an imminent risk to generations yet unborn. Is that reasonable?

Clark: Not only reasonable, it is inevitable.

Judge: You are not speaking as a scientist, but giving your opinion.

Clark: My judgment. No, I am not a scientist.

Quigley: Is it reasonable to believe these weapons pose a threat of death or serious injury?

Clark: That’s what they’re made for. If they’re used, it’s a disaster.

Quigley: If they are used. These weapons are made to be used, they are used as a threat?

Clark: I’m afraid so. We don’t build them to store them.

++++

ATTENTION HAD TO BE PAID, AND IT ISN’T BEING PAID

At one point, Ramsey Clark noted the building of nuclear weapons has “gone on for years and years. It’s what causes proliferation. If we do it, others will do it. The magnitude of the expenditures. These weapons present a clear and present danger to life on earth.”

Quigley: But is there no reasonable, legal alternative?

Clark: This is the only way people have to tell the truth. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. If we keep on building them, we are on the path to total destruction. Attention had to be paid, and it isn’t being paid. We have to get the government to pay attention. That’s why this was necessary.

Quigley: Is it reasonable for the defendants to believe that weapons of mass destruction are illegal under US and international law?

Clark: It is reasonable. It also recognizes the violation of Article Six of the Nonproliferation Treaty—the obligation that is in the treaty we signed when I was the attorney general. The obligation of the weapons states was to stop the arms race and eliminate them from the planet.

+++++++

THE LIFE OF THE PLANET IS AT RISK FROM THIS ONE PLANT IN TENNESSEE

Quigley: Is it reasonable to believe that what is being refurbished at Y12 are weapons of mass destruction?

Clark: It’s an established fact.

Quigley: And reasonable to believe they violate international law?

Clark: Reasonable. Under the NPT we agreed to eliminate them.

Quigley: And I believe I just heard today or yesterday that the Boston bomber was indicted for use of a weapon of mass destruction—that is part of our criminal code…

The Judge stepped in. “A weapon in the hands of a terrorist or a citizen is different than a weapon in the hands of the government. A machine gun, or a tank—is that a fair statement?”

Clark: It’s fair if you limit it to machine guns or rifles, but weapons of mass destruction—the US is in violation of the intent of the most important treaty we ever signed.

Quigley: Do you believe the continuing threat of the use of Y12 weapons constitutes a war crime?

Clark: It is a reasonable and fair statement of belief.

Quigley: And a soldier can commit war crimes?

Clark: Yes.

Quigley: And using, or preparing to use weapons of mass destruction is a war crime.

Clark: That is reasonable to believe.

Quigley: The defendants believe the work at Y12 is preparation for genocide, could be carried out by civilians or armed services. But they believe the weapons activities at Y12 are in preparation for genocide and a violation of international law.

Clark: That is reasonable. Because of the magnitude of the program at this time. One sub, one sub can carry one hundred warheads. Eight submarines, on alert at all times, eight hundred warheads in a position to strike. Think of maps. Eight hundred places in Europe… or on the continent of the Americas. It is criminally insane.

Quigley: Not homicidal, but omnicidal.

Clark: The life of the planet is at risk from this one plant here in Tennessee.

++++++

Later, Ramsey Clark again noted nuclear weapons threaten all life of the planet. “Yet we proliferate,” he said. “I lived through Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1968, we came up to sign the NPT. We realized if we let weapons spread, they would threaten life on earth. So in Article I the non-nuclear powers agreed not to procure nuclear weapons, and in Article VI, the nuclear powers took on the obligation—it places an obligation on us. It was highly idealistic, even commits us to complete disarmament. We put it on the shelf. We didn’t read it.

Quigley: The defendants believe the United States is in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, specifically Article six…

Clark: If you’re an informed person, it’s the only belief you could have.

+++++

THE OBLIGATIONS ARE SERIOUS AND MUST BE OBEYED

When the subject turned to Nuremberg, Quigley asked the Attorney General about his knowledge. “I was there, for one day,” Clark said. “But I read about it.”

Quigley asked about the Nuremberg principles as binding US law. Clark said they were the supreme law of the land.

Quigley asked, “Is it reasonable to believe they outlaw crimes against humanity?”

Clark: Not only reasonable, but highly desirable.

Quigley: And they not only outlaw the killing, but planning and preparation.

Clark: That is the only way to prevent the killing.

Quigley: The principles do not obligate people to wait until after, but confer on them the right and obligation to act to prevent…

Clark: If you can only punish, and not prevent, that is not sufficient for human survival.

Quigley: So it was reasonable for the defendants to believe they had a right and a duty to act to prevent?

Clark: Yes.

Judge Thapar broke in: Could the defendants be convicted of a war crime?

Clark: They might be convicted of trespass, though I don’t consider it trespass.

Quigley: Your honor, the defendants believe it is the government that is committing the war crime.

Clark: The conduct of the US government—it was a treaty we signed, we should be the first to respect it. The obligations are reasonable and serious and must be obeyed.

+++++

At one point Clark inserted a historical note for context: “If you look at the threat to life on the planet in 1945, one country had atomic bombs and others were seeking them. It’s a sad fact, but if two countries have a controversy, a dispute, or a difference of ambitions, and if one country has nuclear weapons and the other doesn’t, they have to get them in order to be free, to live free.”

+++++

THESE DEFENDANTS SOUGHT TO PRESERVE SOCIETY

Quigley: The defendants believe international treaties are binding law, is that reasonable?

Clark: Reasonable belief and a correct statement of the meaning of the Constitution.

Quigley: And the NPT is binding law…

Clark: It is the supreme law of the land.

Quigley: The defendants believe the program at Y12 which modernizes nuclear weapons violates the NPT.

Clark: It is the only reasonable belief. Our laws have to seek to preserve society. These defendants sought to preserve society.

+++++

BY A GOOGLE

Quigley: A moment ago, the judge asked if the government has the right to criminalize trespass. Is the trespass of these defendants miniscule compared to the crimes they are trying to prevent?

Clark: They were justified. There is a long history of justifying minor infractions to prevent grave injury. The only requirement is courage. If they had to cut through a fence, so be it. It was a minor infraction to prevent calamity.

Quigley: The law of proportionality favors the defendants. Is it reasonable to believe the small matter of harm they did is less than the harm that would come from nuclear weapons?

Clark: By a googol. It’s googol to one.

++++

Quigley: Since the use of these weapons on Japan, there have been thousands of tests around the world.

Clark: Yes, it was a race. Proliferation.

Quigley: And the defendants believe these tests have caused harm to thousands, on Bikini, the Marshall Islands, downwind of the Nevada Test Site—in ways that violate our treaties.

Clark: Based on clear knowledge, and a lot more than you have described.

+++++

Greg Boertje Obed closed the initial questioning of Clark with a question about drone warfare. Referencing the statement read by the Transform Now Plowshares resisters when they were at the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility on July 28, 2012.  “Is it reasonable to believe that drone warfare is illegal?

Clark answered: As used, in a time of peace, they are clearly illegal because they are indiscriminate. They are also lawless—first we execute, then the trial.

It was 11:56. Ramsey Clark had been on the stand for an hour.

+++++

I COULD IMAGINE A COURT IN THE FUTURE…

Under cross examination, Clark was patient, plain spoken, and profound. Assistant District Attorney Jeff Theodore, specialist in national security, asked, “Are you contending that operations at Y12 are criminal?”

Clark: They are unlawful. Had we met our obligations, we could be living in a world where these acts could not be committed. But there is no specific statute.

Theodore: You don’t believe these are war crimes, do you?

Clark: I could imagine a court in the future…

Theodore: But you don’t believe that.

Theodore turned the conversation to international law, pointing out that Congress is not bound by international law. Clark noted the Supremacy clause of the Constitution declares treaties to be the Supreme Law of the Land.

“So court opinions to the contrary are wrong?” Theodore asked. Clark said he would have to read the opinion. Judge Amul Thapar broke in, “Does supremacy mean Congress can not ignore international law?”

Clark: Congress can. But when we sign a treaty, and it enters into force, it becomes the supreme law.

Judge: But a treaty doesn’t trump the Constitution.

Clark: It’s in the Constitution.

Judge: But if there is a contract.

Clark: It says, “The Constitution and Treaties” are the supreme law of the land.

Judge: But take this case on chemical weapons. Whether Congress can pass a law in accordance with a treaty in the absence of another basis. If international law said marijuana was legal. Can Congress pass a lawmaking it illegal?

Clark: If Congress signed a treaty?

Judge: We can have statutes that are inconsistent with customary international law.

Clark: You’re talking about international law, not a treaty.

Judge: I think I understand.

++++++

THAT’S THE ADMIRABLE THING ABOUT IT. SOMEBODY HAD TO ACT, AND THEY DID.

Later, the Assistant DA tried to hammer Clark on whether or not the Plowshares activists had other alternatives to civil disobedience. He appeared to confuse written statements from another prospective witness, but Clark took up the discussion.

Theodore: Do you agree their action was civil disobedience?

Clark: It could also be for the greater good.

Theodore: But if it was civil disobedience, was it direct or indirect?

Clark: Mostly I would say it was indirect. Their motivation was clearly affirmative.

Theodore: But there are alternatives. There are always alternatives. Always the political process.

Clark: There are always alternatives. But they are not restricted to them, especially if they don’t seem to work.

Theodore: But the court said, after Schoon…

Clark: The alternatives may not be adequate.

Theodore: But just because they don’t get the result they want, the democratic process does work, doesn’t it?

Clark: It’s not working on this.

Theodore: But on any number of issues, people’s views have changed.

Clark: Yet militarism has grown and grown.

Theodore: But we have had a reduction in the number of nuclear weapons since 1969.

Clark: Not in the destructive capacity. You think of the power of the warheads on just one submarine. It is unbelievable.

Theodore: But democracy works, doesn’t it?

Clark: It’s pretty darn good on most things.

A moment later, after a discussion of Nuremberg during which Theodore attempted to limit the imperative of Nuremberg to cases where citizens were being forced to undertake unlawful acts, he said, “They weren’t compelled, these three.”

Clark answered, “That’s the admirable thing about it. Somebody had to act, and they did.”

Theodore drew his cross examination to a close: “A minute ago, you testified that the activities at the Y12 site were unlawful. Are the people who work there criminals?”

Clark: They are engaged in a criminal enterprise.

++++++

WE COULD NOT FEEL THEIR PAIN

Bill Quigley, on redirect, reached through the tangle of legalese for the heart.

“Mr. Clark, in the 1960’s, when you were in the Justice Department, was it necessary for African Americans to commit civil disobedience to force you to act?”

Ramsey Clark was silent for just a moment. “Sadly, yes,” he said. “We could not feel their pain. We could not feel the misery of their lives. We came to understand it, finally, but without their initiative, we would not have the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act or any of that. Without Martin Luther King…”

Then, suddenly, the Judge entered the discussion, agreeing that Martin Luther King was an apt example. “It shows that civil disobedience may be honorable, but still illegal.”

Clark: We always hope the law understands the moral value of conduct.

Judge Thapar: But as Attorney General, that was your call, a prosecutorial discretion call.

Clark: Not just discretion.

Judge: But it, take an onerous example, one I think or I hope we would all find—the Klan. If a prosecutor brings charges, and if the judge is sympathetic, he is not then at liberty to ignore the law. If the prosecutor decides to bring the case, the judge’s action flows from it. Civil disobedience, though moral, is maybe not legal.

Clark heard the judge’s plea for absolution but did not grant it. “The final call is with the judiciary,” he said. “The judge disposes.”

Thapar: In accordance with the law.

Bill Quigley reentered the conversation with a question to Clark. “Did Nuremberg prosecute judges?”

“I believe they did.”

“And prosecutors?”

“I believe there were some.”

+++++

IT IS AN HONOR TO BE HERE

By now, Ramsey Clark had been on the stand for more than an hour and a half. Bill Quigley led him to the close. “Is there anything else you would like to say?”

Clark allowed a brief smile. “I could make a speech, but I will restrain myself.” And then he was serious. “It is an honor to be here.”

Yes, Ramsey Clark, it was an honor to be there.

###

Disarm Now Plowshares Alert! Time to plant Seeds of Peace!!!

Many of you have undoubtedly seen the one-in-a-million Bix Tacoma Action Figure, created by local (Tacoma) artiste R.R. Anderson.  It’s a wonderful tribute to our selfless Friend Bix.  Well, Monsieur Anderson has done it again.  But this time there’s even more!

That’s right Kids!!!  Now, you can get your very own Father Bix Anti-Nuke Sunflower Seeds.  Yup – Sunflower seeds are a symbol of a nuclear weapons free world.  Part of this story is that sunflowers (really do) absorb certain radioactive elements from the soil and water, and have been used to clean up radioactive contamination in places like Chernobyl.

And besides; sunflowers just seem to make people happy.  Plant a bunch of these subversive seeds and you can have your very own field of sunshine.  (AND make a statement for a world free of the scourge of nuclear weapons).

This subversive, comic moment brought to you by local artist par excellence, R.R. Anderson!!!

This subversive, comic moment brought to you by local artist par excellence, R.R. Anderson!!!

Bix and his companions in the 2009 Disarm Now Plowshares action cut through fences and made their way over the course of many hours across the massive Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in the dark of night on their way to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific.  That is where the Navy stores the thermonuclear warheads for the missiles that are carried on its nuclear ballistic missile submarines.  Their purpose?  To symbolically disarm the weapons stored their – turning them “from swords into plowshares.”

Along the way the five brave souls sprinkled sunflower seeds.  And so a bit of sunshine might have one day sprouted in the evil darkness of a place dedicated to the preparations for the murder of upwards of millions of people and quite possibly the end of civilization as we know it on this small planet.

So get your very own Father Bix Anti-Nuke Sunflower Seeds today (just in time to plant) from the Central Tacoma Radical Media Exchange!  Spread a little subversive sunshine.  You’ll be glad you did.

Let’s all spread the message – Swords to Plowshares!  Ditch the Nukes!

Pacific Life Community 2013 Faith & Resistance Retreat

Friends,

In just less than a month people will gather for the Pacific Life Community 2013 Faith & Resistance Retreat – Friday, March 1st through Monday, March 4th.

Just what is the Pacific Life Community?  Briefly – It is an extended community of people in many different communities dedicated to “ending nuclear weapons and war-makingsunflower through nonviolent direct action.”

The retreat is a full weekend of reflection, sharing and re-charging (and more) for the work ahead.

The retreat itself will be at the All Saints Camp in Gig Harbor, just north of Tacoma.  On Saturday evening there is a free public event at the University of Puget Sound.  On Monday morning people from the retreat will gather for a vigil and nonviolent direct action at the Bangor Trident submarine base.  All are welcome to join in any part of the weekend – on Monday morning, Saturday evening, as well as the rest of the weekend’s retreat.

The retreat begins at All Saints Camp on Friday evening with some informal activities.  The more “formal” program begins Saturday morning and runs through Sunday evening.  On Monday morning we will rise before the sun and prepare for the early morning action at Bangor, which is a relatively short drive North of the retreat center.

People need to register for the retreat itself so that we can plan to accommodate everyone. We are asking for $100 per attendee to help cover the costs of the retreat. No one will be turned down for lack of full fare. And we invite you who are able to subsidize to help.  Click here to download the Registration Form.

The Saturday evening program at University of Puget Sound is free and open to the public, and begins at 7:00PM (NO registration necessary).  The theme is A Nonviolent Future without Nuclear Weapons?  We have a rich offering of presenters, including:

  • Michael Honey, Professor of Labor and Ethnic Studies and American History at University of Washington, Tacoma.
  • Tom Rogers, a retired US Navy Captain.  A career submariner, he commanded a nuclear attack submarine during the Cold War.
  • Elizabeth Murray, an ex-CIA analyst and former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East at the National Intelligence Council
  • Father William “Bix” Bichsel, a Jesuit who lives and works at the Tacoma Catholic Worker.

Click here for more detailed bios and full information on Saturday evening’s program.  It will be a wonderful opportunity to learn how we can all engage the issue and help build a nonviolent future free of the scourge of nuclear weapons.   After the formal presentations and music, there will be an opportunity to meet and talk with presenters and members of the PLC to learn more.

Monday morning’s vigil and nonviolent direct action will happen at the Bangor base, and we are grateful to Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (GZ) for hosting the action.  GZ is located next door to the Bangor base (the largest operational concentration of nuclear weapons!!!).  All are welcome to join the vigil in nonviolent spirit and intention.  We plan to arrive at Bangor and begin vigiling at approximately 7:00AM.  Following the vigil and action we will regroup at GZ for breakfast and reflection.  We will post more details as they are available. Please note: We don’t yet know the exact location of the action.

If you are considering joining us on Monday morning, but will not be with us on the retreat, please send me an email at gznonviolencenews@gmail.com and I will be sure to keep you updated on Monday morning – timing, directions, etc.  This is important as it is quite possible that we will not determine which gate we will be at until Sunday (March 3rd).

Finally – Please check the top of the right column at the PLC Blog for registration form, maps and more.  We will be adding the retreat schedule soon.

If you still have questions please contact either Leonard at subversivepeacemaking@gmail.com or George at georod01@msn.com and let us know what you need.

Looking forward to sharing a rich weekend of faith and resistance.

With Nonviolent Spirit,

Leonard

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