article below posted November 28, 2010
Former US Attorney General Testifies for Plowshares Activists
Ramsey Clark embraces anti-nuke efforts in WA
from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
t a motions hearing in the US Federal District Court in Tacoma on November 16, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark testified on behalf of five Plowshares activists who are going to trial December 7 on charges of trespassing at the Bangor, WA nuclear submarine base.
Ramsey Clark was US 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.
Judge Benjamin Settle allowed testimony from Clark, who responded to questions from Disarm Now Plowshares defendants. When asked by Anne Montgomery if the Plowshares activists were justified to enter the restricted area of the US Naval Base, Clark said that they “had a duty to prevent harm, they were justified, and even required to prevent harm.”
Ramsey Clark with Anne Montgomery outside the Federal District Courthouse in Tacoma
photo by Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center
When asked by Susan Crane if Trident nuclear warheads are legal, Clark said no, and explained that the Supreme Court has ruled that international law is binding under the US Constitution. Nuclear weapons are unlawful under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) because of the agreement of the nuclear powers to eliminate them. Clark was in the Justice Department when the NPT was drafted.
“Had we abided by the NPT, we would be a nuclear free world. It’s hard to believe we’ve come to this stage,” Clark said. The US has ignored its obligations under the NPT, and now has enough warheads to destroy the planet.
“Possession of the bomb is a crime. Just like it’s illegal to have a switchblade or concealed weapon, the nuclear weapons are illegal," Clark said. He explained that 99 percent of the deaths in the Hiroshima bombing were non-military, and therefore extraordinarily disproportional. Possessing thousands of nuclear weapons, each one many times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, and which do not discriminate between combatants and civilians, is definitely a crime.
Ramsey Clark with Bix Bichsel
photo by Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center
Clark concluded that Plowshares activists are opposed to all violence, and particularly nuclear weapons, which are “the ultimate human degradation.”
The former attorney general testified on behalf of Bill “Bix” Bichsel, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly, and Anne Montgomery, who all face charges of Conspiracy, Trespass, Destruction of Property on a Naval Installation and Depredation of Government Property for their November 2, 2009 Plowshares action. They entered the US Navy’s nuclear weapons storage depot at Bangor, WA to symbolically disarm the nuclear weapons stored there, and expose the illegality of the government's continued preparations for nuclear war.
Among the documents being considered by the judge in the Disarm Now Plowshares case is a motion for dismissal.
A trial date has been set for December 7, 2010
in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, Tacoma Courthouse.
On the evening of December 6, Disarm Now Plowshares supporters will gather for a Festival of Hope at St. Leo Church in Tacoma to hear Angie Zelter speak. Zelter, a peace, human rights and environmental campaigner, has written several books, including "Trident on Trial: The case for people's disarmament."
On the evening of December 7, Colonel Ann Wright will speak at St. Leo Church. Wright, who served in the US Army and Foreign Service, resigned on the eve of the US 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.
Clark in the past has provided legal defense for Plowshares activist Philip Berrigan, as well as other prisoners of conscience in the US, including Camilo Mejia, Leonard Peltier, and Lori Berenson.
There have been more than 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4 in Old Testament: “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.”
In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire US 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 costs approximately $60 million and is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads, each of which has about 30 times the explosive force of the Hiroshima bomb.
Further information and updates on Disarm Now Plowshares are available at disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com.
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