By John LaForge
Any courtroom in China or Iran could have been the scene: An 84-year-old Catholic nun in prison garb, chained hand-and-foot and surrounded by heavy Marshals, is shuffled jangling into court. Her attorney asks if she might be allowed one free hand in order to take notes. The nun has been convicted of high crimes trumped up after her bold political protest embarrassed the state. A high-ranking judge lectures her about law and order and then imposes a three-year prison term.
Like a Mullah thundering against an Infidel, the judge absurdly orders the penniless convict, who has lived her entire adult life within a vow of poverty, to pay $53,000 in restitution â€” what the government said was cost to fix four cuts in wire fences and repaint a wall.
The nun, Sr. Megan Rice of New York City, had fearlessly declared to the court, â€œTo spend the rest of my life in prison would be a great honor and I hope it will happen.â€ Life expectancy for white women is 81 years, so hers may be a death sentence. The judge denied he had imposed a life sentence, just like any magistrate in Beijing or Tehran. But this is US district court in Knoxville.
What had the frail, retired missionary, who spent 40 years building schools and teaching in Africa, done to bring down the weight of the US Justice Department upon her? With wire cutters, spray paint, poured blood and prayers directed against the â€œY-12â€ H-bomb factory at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Sr. Rice (and two retirement-aged US Army veterans) dared to call the US government a criminal enterprise in its production and threatened use of nuclear weapons. Speaking to the court, she said sheâ€™d walked up to Y-12â€™s bomb-grade uranium fortress which, â€œâ€¦ we were able to reach, touch and label with statements of truth.â€
The Actual Lawbreaker Exposed
The Mullah, US District Judge Amul Thapar, told Rice her action, â€œevokes complete disrespect for law â€¦ total disregard for law,â€ that, â€œat some point the law demands respect,â€ and, â€œwe need to â€¦ protect the law,â€ and that she â€œtransgressed laws of the United States, a great country,â€ and â€œNo man or group is above the law,â€ and, finally, â€œCourts arenâ€™t the places for judges to disregard the law.â€ Turns out the judge disregarded a lot of law.
Never mind that the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions, the Treaty of Paris, the Nuremberg Principles, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other binding humanitarian law prohibit the planning, threat or commission of massacres, deliberate long-term damage to the environment and construction of new nuclear weapons â€” all of which is today ongoing at Oak Ridge.
Never mind that Obama said Sept. 24, 2009, â€œInternational law is not an empty promise, and treaties must be enforced.â€ Never mind that the US Constitution holds all such treaties â€œsupreme,â€ and says treaties are binding on â€œevery judge in every state.â€ Never mind that the US Supreme Court has upheld this â€œSupremacy Clauseâ€ five times.
Nuclear Weapons Excluded from Legal Considerations
Never mind any of this law â€” because nuclear weapons are considered above it all in federal court. Evidence and testimony about the criminal status of nuclear weapons is considered inadmissible there. Contraband cannot legally be in anyoneâ€™s possession, but if experts offer proof that nuclear weapons are contraband, the offer is excluded by federal courts.
Oak Ridgeâ€™s W78 and B61 nuclear warhead production, forbidden by the Nonproliferation Treaty, canâ€™t even be described to a federal jury. Even the expert testimony of a former US Attorney General â€” that Oak Ridgeâ€™s mission is a criminal conspiracy to produce banned weapons â€” can be, and was in this case, hidden from the jury.
Four US Courts of Appeal have said juries would be â€œconfusedâ€ by this powerful evidence. On the contrary, proof that H-bombs are illegal would pierce the vacuum that protects the Bomb complex from judicial scrutiny. Any evidence of the fact that planning and preparing massacres is criminal, that nuclear weapons can only produce massacres, and that the government is presently building new H-bombs, would dissolve the faÃ§ade of legitimacy surrounding the Bomb. It would also exonerate the nunâ€™s action in a new context â€” that of whistle-blowing and crime prevention. Sr. Rice told the judge her protest had lifted â€œan enormous cloud of deception covering up the monstrosity of Y-12.â€
The illusion that H-bombs are lawful and defensive is embraced by almost no one outside the weapons complex and the judiciary â€” either in China, North Korea or the US. Only a swarm of amplified protest and resistance can possibly break through this willful blindness.Î¦
John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice. You can write Sr. Megan Rice at: # 88101-020 / MDC Brooklyn / Metropolitan Detention Center / P.O. Box 329002 / Brooklyn, NY 11232.