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"Disarm Now Plowshares" Trial Date Set for Dec. 7th. 2010

category international | anti-war / imperialism | press release author Sunday October 10, 2010 08:47author by Plowsharesauthor address Tacoma, Washington State, USA Report this post to the editors

They're on Trial for Us, We're on the Loose for Them!

Disarm Now Plowshares Activists Arraigned

Tacoma, Washington – October 8, 2010 - 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.

News Release 10/9/2010

For immediate release

Disarm Now Plowshares Activists Arraigned

Tacoma, Washington – October 8, 2010 - 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

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

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

Leonard Eiger, 425-445-2190,
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
16159 Clear Creek Road NW Poulsbo, WA 98370

Further information on Disarm Now Plowshares is available at

Related Link:
author by Pre-Trial Hearing - Plowsharespublication date Thu Nov 25, 2010 14:03author address Tacoma, Washington, USAauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Disarm Now Plowshares: Motions to Dismiss DENIED!


The Disarm Now Plowshares were in court again; this time for the
pre-trial conference in which a most important issue – the motions to
dismiss their case – was argued.

All five Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants - Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ,
Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly, SJ, and Anne Montgomery,
RSCJ – were present for the proceedings in Judge Benjamin Settle’s
courtroom at the U.S. District Court, Tacoma, Washington on November
22, 2010.

Susan Crane began the defendant’s testimony; the following are some of
her key points.

“Our action on Nov. 2, the testimony of Ramsey Clark, the motions we
filed, make clear that we are concerned about the trident nuclear

“The trident nuclear weapons system is illegal and immoral. It’s a
system preparing for the mass murder of innocent civilians that will
affect generations to come.”

“As loving human beings, we have a responsibility, right and duty to
use nonviolent actions to prevent the trident nuclear weapons system
from operating.”

Crane went on to invoke the heart of the Plowshares vision and its
vital importance in addressing Trident (and nuclear weapons) that
constitute the taproot of violence in our nation (and the world).

“On Nov. 2, 2009, we remembered the words of the prophet Isaiah, who
had a vision of beating swords into plowshares”…convert weapons of war
into something useful for human life. It is our firm understanding
that these Trident nuclear weapons are illegal under national and
international law, as well as the teachings of our faith, and general
humanitarian law and conscience.”

Crane worked to build the defense case for applying the necessity
defense; that “the indisputable facts of Trident are hard to face, but
we can’t deny that it is in preparation for the use of nuclear
weapons.” Understanding that there is
“imminent harm” from the manufacture, deployment and preparation for
the use of Trident, the Disarm Now Plowshares acted out of conscience,
and moral and legal duty. “The harm we created (cut fence) is minor
in comparison with the harm of a nuclear explosion.”

Anne Montgomery spoke to former Attorney General Ramsey Clark’s
previous testimony in this case before she moved on to discussing her
first Plowshares action, King of Prussia in 1980. She remembered
thinking at that time that, “If someone had a gun in his or her hand,
I would have to knock it out of that hand.” She stated that they cut
the fences because there was no other way in; no criminal intent.
Montgomery also stressed that they have tried all other means to bring
light to these weapons, and had to do this Plowshares action because
the public is ignorant of the existence of the weapons. “We were
willing to give our own blood to avoid shedding the blood of others.”

In reference to the justification defense, Montgomery quoted Judge
Spaeth from a concurrent opinion in the Superior Court in Pennsylvania
in a 1983 appeal of the Plowshares Eight trial.

“Accordingly, whenever a defendant pleads justification, the court
should ask, ‘What higher value than the value of literal compliance
with the law is defendant asserting?’ The trial court failed to ask
this question. Apparently in its eyes no higher value is implicated
in this case. And for the dissent, this case is to be decided as we
would decide a case involving ‘the theft and destruction of guns or
explosives by altruistic and well-meaning citizens who sincerely
believe that guns or explosives possess the potential to kill at
sometime in the future.’ But appellants are not pleading the danger
arising from ‘guns or explosives;’ they are pleading the danger
arising from nuclear missiles. One who does not understand that
danger does not understand appellants’ plea.”

“Appellants do not assert that their action would avoid nuclear war
(what a grandiose and unlikely idea!). Instead, at least so far as I
can tell from the record, their belief was that their action, in
combination with the actions of others, might accelerate a political
process ultimately leading to the abandonment of nuclear missiles.
And that belief, I submit, should not be dismissed as ‘unreasonable as
a matter of law.’ A jury might – or might not – find it unreasonable
as a matter of fact. But that is for a jury to say, not for a court.”

Although not referred to in today’s proceedings, the following text
from the closing argument for the Plowshares Eight appeal (referenced
above) is most powerful, and sums up the reality of the peril of
nuclear weapons.

“The people in the Pentagon offices and their counterparts in the
Kremlin where the questions of coping with war injuries are dealt with
must be having a hard time these days, looking ahead as they must to
the possibility of thermonuclear war. Any sensible analyst in such an
office would be tempted to scratch off all the expense items related
to surgical care of the irradiated, burned, and blasted, the men,
women, and children with empty bone marrows and vaporized skin. What
conceivable benefit can come from sinking money in hospitals subject
to instant combustion, only capable of salvaging, at their intact
best, a few hundred victims who will be lying out there in the
hundreds of thousands? There exists no medical technology that can
cope with the certain outcome of just one small, neat, so-called
tactical bomb exploded over a battlefield. As for the problem raised
by a single large bomb dropped on New York City or Moscow, with the
dead and dying in the millions, what would medical technology be good
for? As the saying goes, forget it. Think of something else. Get a
computer running somewhere in a cave, to estimate the likely numbers
of the lucky dead. L. Thomas, On Medicine and the Bomb, reprinted in
L. Thomas, Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth
Symphony. Nor is the peril confined to those who will be ‘irradiate,
burned, and blasted.’ It extends much farther, to our survival as a
species. If only a small fraction of the nuclear missiles now able to
be fired, either by us or by the Soviet Union, are fired, a ‘dark
nuclear winter’ will occur: a cloud of debris will block off our
sunlight; temperatures will plunge; and our death by freezing of
starvation will follow. Scientists have identified a 100 megaton
explosion as the ‘nuclear war threshold’ that once crossed will lead
to such a global catastrophe. See ‘After Atomic War: Doom in the
Dark,’ Phil. Enquirer, November 1, 1983. It is in the light of this
peril that the reasonableness of appellants’ belief must be judged.”

Steve Kelly then summed up the legal case. He stated that U.S.
voluntary participation in international law is well established, and
that Ramsey Clark clearly established this fact in his earlier
testimony. Kelly also cited the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
decision on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear weapons.

Constitutionally, the laws are clear that the threat of use of nuclear
weapons is unlawful, and the presence of Trident (which targets
civilian populations) is grossly unlawful. He further stated that the
conditions of necessity have been met; the defendants were not trying
to change the law, but were “trying to block any intended threat or
use of those weapons,” and they did in fact successfully do so; the
base was locked down and no work was done on the warheads for up to 11
hours that day.

Earlier in the proceedings Crane stated (in justifying the Plowshares
action) that over many years people have tried many, many other
avenues, including fasting, vigils, war tax resistance and
demonstrations, to bring the government’s attention to this issue, but
they have still been ignored. The prosecution later declared that the
Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants had taken the lazy path; “Going to
Bangor is easy,” stated the prosecutor. He further stated that the
hard thing is engaging in the democratic process, using speech, etc.

William Bichsel responded to the prosecution’s statement, saying that
they engaged in nonviolent action to turn these weapons (symbolically)
into plowshares, and inform the public about the presence of these
weapons so that the democratic process could be fulfilled. After 40
years of using every method conceivable, any reasonable person would
consider these actions reasonable and necessary. Bichsel also spoke
to the traditions that have been so important and effective over a
long period of time; that the defendants are standing in the tradition
of people like Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, and are schooled in the
nonviolence of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Following the testimony, Judge Settle denied both motions to dismiss,
and stated that although he understands that the defendants “are
acting out of conscience,” that does not apply here since the court is
supposed to uphold the Constitution. It must therefore follow, by
precedent, that the Nuremburg Principles and necessity defense are not
applicable in this case.

When Crane responded that all five co-defendants “feel we are entitled
to a full defense,” Judge Settle replied that court is bound by
precedent, and that the defendants can appeal should there be a
conviction. Case closed???

The Disarm Now Plowshares five trial begins at 9:00 AM on December 7,
2010. Although the government has essentially denied the defendants
any reasonable defense, the five are prepared to forge ahead with
joyful hearts. Let all who believe in extinguishing the violent fire
of nuclear weapons before it erupts support these courageous
individuals who are fully prepared to give up their freedoms for this
just cause.

There are many opportunities to support Disarm Now Plowshares. In
addition to coming to the court to witness the trial and join in
vigils outside the courthouse, there will be evening programs in
Tacoma beginning on Monday (December 6) and continuing each evening of
the trial. These will be opportunities to meet the members of Disarm
Now, hear speakers, and enjoy music, food and fellowship.

On Monday evening, December 6, Angie Zelter will be the main speaker.
Zelter, a peace, human rights and environmental campaigner, has
written several books, including "Trident on Trial - the case for
people's disarmament."

On Tuesday evening, December 7, Colonel Ann Wright, is the main
speaker. Wright, who served in the U.S. Army and Foreign Service,
resigned on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, stating that without
the authorization of the UN Security Council, the invasion and
occupation of a Muslim, Arab, oil-rich country would be a violation of
international law. Most recently, she was on the May, 2010 Gaza
Freedom Flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli military.

There are other speakers not yet confirmed, and all the event
information will be posted on the Disarm Now Plowshares “Events” page
at as they are

Read the Disarm Now Plowshares Blog at for ongoing reflections
leading up to trial and daily reports during the trial.

Finally, please spread the word about Disarm Now Plowshares and their
courageous act of resistance so that everyone may learn of these
immoral and illegal weapons of mass destruction (Trident) and their
duty, as citizens, to speak out against them.

Related Link:
author by Plowsharespublication date Fri Oct 22, 2010 14:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

SLIDESHOW - Disarm Now Plowshares Arraignment - walk to court

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