By Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
A former U.S. attorney general will appear in Tacoma, Washington to speak about the illegality of nuclear weapons prior to his appearance in court on behalf of five Plowshares co-defendants.
Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark will give a public presentation at the University of Washington, Tacoma campus, Carwein Auditorium on Monday, November 15, 2010 at 6:30 PM on international law and civilian responsibility in the context of nuclear disarmament.
The U.S. continues to pursue an aggressive policy that perpetuates the development, production and potential use of nuclear weapons, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars that need to be spent on human needs. At the heart of this issue are citizens’ responsibility to resist our government’s illegal actions, and the government’s criminalization of such dissent.
Clark will testify on behalf of the Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants during their motions hearing on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 1:30 PM. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Tacoma Courthouse.
Just over one year 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 are preparing for their December 7, 2010 trial in Federal court. They were arraigned on October 8, 2010 in U.S. District Court, Tacoma, Washington.
Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly, SJ, and Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, all face charges of 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.
Among the documents being considered by the Judge in this case is a motion for dismissal in which 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.
Ramsey Clark was U.S. Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1967 to 1969, and supervised drafting and passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
The former Attorney General has provided legal defense for Plowshares activist Philip Berrigan, as well as other prisoners of conscience in the U.S., including Camilo Mejia, Leonard Peltier and
Clark’s presentation at University of Washington, Tacoma on Monday, November 15, 2010 at 6:30 PM will be in the Carwein Auditorium, Keystone Building. Check the Disarm Now Plowshares Website (click on “Events”) for updates at disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com.
Supporters of Disarm Now Plowshares will gather in front of the Tacoma courthouse from 12:30 to 1:00 for music and reflection prior to the 1:30 PM motions hearing.
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, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, 16159 Clear Creek Road NW Poulsbo, WA 98370
Further information (and updates on events) on Disarm Now Plowshares is available online.