FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Judge Says, No Clowning Around Our WMDs!

A federal judge cleared the way for a priest and two veterans to be tried before a federal jury on September 13, 2006 for damaging a Minuteman III intercontinental nuclear missile in North Dakota.

The three, dressed as clowns, hammered and poured their blood on the silo of the 40 ton weapon. The bomb has over 20 times the destructive power of the one dropped on Hiroshima. If convicted on the felony charges of criminal damage to property, each face up to 10 years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000.

They dressed as clowns “to show that humor and laughter are key elements in the struggle to transform the structures of destruction and death. Clowns as court jesters were sometimes the only ones able to survive after speaking truth to power.”

Warheads launched from the Minuteman III missile silo can reach any destination within 6000 miles in 35 minutes. The nuclear bomb launched from a Minuteman silo produces uncontrollable radiation, massive heat and a blast capable of vaporizing and leveling everything within a 50-mile radius. Outside the 50 square miles — extending into hundreds of miles — the blast, wide-spread heat, firestorms and neutron and gamma rays are intended to kill, severely wound and poison every living thing and causing long-term damage to the environment.

Because the Minuteman III is a weapon of mass destruction, they argued, it is illegal under international law.

In a statement, defendants challenged the hypocrisy of U.S. policy on nuclear weapons. “US leaders speak about the dangers of other nations acquiring nuclear weapons while our nation has thousands of horrific weapons of mass destruction. Our nation fails to act in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which commits the U.S. to take steps to disarm its weapons of mass destruction. We act in order to bring attention to people’s responsibility for disarming weapons of state terrorism.”

The judge refused to dismiss the charges saying: “The laws of the United States do not support the theory that an individual has a right or responsibility to correct a perceived violation of international law or humanitarian law or tribal law or religious law by willfully destroying government property.”

Known as the Weapons of Mass Destruction Here Plowshares, the defendants are: Fr. Carl Kabat, 72, a Catholic priest who has spent more than fifteen years in prison for anti-nuclear protests; Greg Boertje-Obed, 51, a husband, father and ex-military officer; and Michael Walli, 57, a Vietnam vet. Boertje-Obed and Walli are members of the Loaves and Fishes Catholic Worker community in Duluth, Minnesota.

Francis Boyle, a professor of law at the University of Illinois, submitted his legal opinion to the court in support of dismissing the charges: “Where the “property” allegedly damaged is part of an illegal and criminal threat of use of a weapon of mass destruction these defendants acted lawfully and reasonably to prevent the most egregious and fundamentally prohibited of all crimes, war crimes.”

Testimony from the Mayor of Hiroshima about the effects of nuclear weapons and the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice outlawing nuclear weapons were submitted to the court.

“We are not criminals,” Fr. Kabat told the court. “We are following the laws of morality. These weapons are the crimes against humanity!”

The jury trial will be held in Bismarck, North Dakota. Defendants, who remain in jail awaiting trial, are now dressed in black and white striped jail jumpsuits. No word yet on how they intend to dress for their appearance in court.

BILL QUIGLEY a human rights lawyer and teaches at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law. Bill is a legal advisor to the protestors. You can reach him at Quigley@loyno.edu

For more information about the upcoming trial contact the Loaves and Fishes Community in Duluth at 218.728.0629 or Nukewatch at 715.472.4185. Copies of some pleadings in the case, pictures and updates from the men are posted on the Jonah House website http://www.jonahhouse.org

 

 

More articles by:

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

June 25, 2018
Daniel Falcone
A Reporter’s Reporter: a Conversation With Seymour Hersh
Gerald Sussman
America’s Cold War “Tugboat”
Jonathan Cook
The Defiance that Launched Gaza’s Flaming Kites Cannot be Extinguished
P. Sainath
A Long March of the Dispossessed to Delhi 
Sheldon Richman
What Does Trump Have Against Children?
Lance Olsen
Caught in a Trap of Our Own Making: Climate Change, Blame, and Denial
Seth Sandronsky
A Safe Black Space
Kary Love
Crying Children and Due Process of Law
Gary Leupp
Why It Just Makes Sense for the U.S. to Withdraw from the UNHRC
John Laforge
Kings Bay Plowshares Action Names the Trident with Blood
Mel Gurtov
After Singapore, Is Iran the Next US Target?
Kent D. Shifferd
A Different Perspective on Peace
Uri Avnery
Two Souls
Laura Flanders
National Suicide Point?
Ludwig Watzal
The Death of Felicia Langer
Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail