"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Beyond New START in the New Year

When the star in the sky is gone and the shepherds are back with their flocks, the REAL work of Christmas begins – feeding the hungry, healing the broken, and bringing peace to the people. – theologian Howard Thurman.


May we all be re-energized, as we move into the New Year, to expand on the small victory represented by ratification of the New START Treaty, keeping our eyes on the prize.



Photo: (from left) The Subversive Peacemaker, Leonard; Scottish Trident Ploughshares activist Angie Zelter; Steven Leeper, Chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation; Retired Col. Ann Wright and Father Bill "Bix" Bichsel, member of Disarm Now Plowshares, during the recent Disarm Now Plowshares trial week.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Resistance is Not Futile!


In my December 7th post I not only asked you to push your Senators to ratify New START, but told you about the Disarm Now Plowshares trial that was starting that day.

Well, the trial is now history, and the government got what it wanted; it reduced the conversation to one primarily about trespassing, destruction of government property and conspiracy, rather than one about the real issues of illegal weapons of mass destruction with which our nation continues to threaten the world and around which it builds its foreign policy.

Disarm Now Plowshares represents part of a greater movement that seeks to resist the immoral and often illegal actions of our government. Those who engage in acts of nonviolent civil resistance, whether at a nuclear weapons storage depot, at School of the Americas or at The White House (as on December 16, 2010) are engaged in a great conspiracy of hope.

Chris Hedges, who participated in and spoke at last Thursday's White House action, stated it directly and eloquently, as did Daniel Ellsberg. Essentially, we choose to become enemies of the state or we are enemies of hope. As we move into a new year may we engage ever greater numbers of citizens in acts of nonviolent resistance until our elected officials can no longer ignore us. That is our hope.

Resistance is not futile. It is, in fact, necessary in order to save the soul of this spiritually impoverished and warring nation. Let us resolve in the coming year to resist with all our hearts and souls, lighting the way and creating a path for others to follow.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010



I woke up this morning at Jean's House of Prayer in Tacoma, Washington where I am helping prepare for the trial of the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 that begins today in U.S. District Court. As I looked out the window around 6:00AM I saw the bright lights of the Port of Tacoma, and wondered what it must have been like just before dawn on November 2, 2009 as the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 topped the hill overlooking the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific (SWFPAC), bathed in bright light, looking like the mythical Mordor in J.R. Tolkein's stories.

Mordor was a terrible, dark place, as is SWFPAC, which (along with the Trident nuclear submarines based at Bangor) contains enough nuclear weapons to end life as we know it on our small planet. Every step taken, whether by Plowshares activists like the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 or by our elected leaders to ratify treaties like New START are IMPORTANT.

Here is an important letter from past presidents of Physicians for Social Responsibility stressing the need to ratify the New START. Please read this and then take action to push the U.S. Senate to ratify New START now! And please hold the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 in your thoughts and prayers as they go on trial for attempting to do what all citizens are called to do - abolish these immoral and illegal nuclear weapons.

There will regular updates each day this week at the Disarm Now Plowshares Website and Blog.



The diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks this past week show a dangerously escalating nuclear confrontation in South Asia. This growing danger is one more reason why the US Senate should ratify new START without further delay.

Both US and British intelligence experts believe that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal, which now numbers 70 to 90 bombs, despite increasing economic and political instability. India has 60-80 warheads in its nuclear arsenal. According to the leaked reports, Pakistan fears that it would be overwhelmed in a conventional war, and looks to establish nuclear superiority to offset India’s advantage in conventional weapons.

The leaked cables also describe an Indian contingency plan, code named Cold Start, to launch just the kind of conventional invasion the Pakistanis fear. While Cold Start is meant to be a purely non-nuclear attack, the Pakistani nuclear build up suggests that it is likely that any future conflict in South Asia would escalate to nuclear war.

A regional nuclear war in South Asia would be catastrophic for the whole world.

Recent climate studies have shown that if only 100 warheads were directed at urban areas, the resulting fire storms would inject upwards of five terragrams ( 5 million tons) of soot into the upper atmosphere. In a matter of days temperatures across the globe would drop an average of 1.3 degrees C., more than twice the warming that has occurred in the last 130 years. There would also be a major decline in rainfall worldwide. These changes would persist for nearly a decade.

While there are no detailed studies of the decline in food production that would result from these climate changes, there is reason to believe that it would be very significant. A cooling event caused by the Pinatubo volcano eruption in 1815 dropped global temperatures only .7 degrees, and the fall in temperature lasted only 1 year, but that was enough to cause widespread famine in Europe and Asia, and the “Year Without a Summer” here in New England when killing frosts throughout the summer devastated crops.

There are over one billion people in the world today who live on the brink of starvation, and global food stockpiles are perilously low. A study that we presented at the Royal Academy of Medicine in 2007 concludes that we have reason to fear that all of these people might starve to death in the event of a nuclear war in South Asia.

What has this to do with New START? Everything.

US efforts to limit nuclear proliferation have been hobbled by our own continued reliance on nuclear weapons despite our having the strongest conventional forces in the world.

New START does not eliminate our arsenal. The 1550 warheads we still retain are enough to destroy India, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, China and Russia—and to kill most of the people on Earth in the process. But New START is an important next step in limiting the US and Russian arsenals, and it is essential to the improved relations with Russia necessary for us to work with the Russians to limit nuclear proliferation. Further it restores our ability to monitor Russia’s nuclear arsenal, an ability we lost when the original START expired just one year ago.

The treaty is seen as vital to US security by our entire military leadership and a veritable “Who’s Who” of Republican defense experts. The original START treaty received overwhelming bi-partisan support in 1992, passing 93-6. But today’s Senate Republicans are threatening to block this replacement treaty unless the Senate agrees to extend the Bush era tax cuts for people making more than $1 million a year.

Republicans, including Senator Gregg, need to stop playing partisan politics with our national security and support this treaty NOW.

John Pastore, MD
Ira Helfand, MD

The authors are past Presidents of Physicians for Social Responsibility, US Affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize

Contact: Ira Helfand, MD at ihelfand@igc.org or 413 320 7829

Friday, November 26, 2010

Drinking and Driving (NUKES) Don't Mix!


In a previous post (Nuclear 18 Wheelers; Yee Haw!!! , Sept. 6, 2009) I wrote about the government's "Safeguards Transporters", those big rigs that travel the nation's highways and byways, delivering nukes to naval and air force bases, and who knows where else.

As an Occupational and Environmental Health professional I spent a great deal of time dealing with risk assessment and risk management. Bottom line: Everything entails some level of risk, no matter how small. Of course we have to look at not only the probability that something might happen (accident), but what would be the severity of the outcome(s).

We all know that the outcomes from messing around with (let alone using) nuclear weapons are not pretty. Whether it be an accident involving the handling or a warhead, or losing track of one, we're dealing with potentially serious outcomes. Of course we should expect that the folks transporting nuclear weapons are the best of the best, right???

Think again!!! Read the beginning of the November 22, 2010 Associated Press article, Report: Nuclear weapon drivers sometimes got drunk.

Federal agents hired to transport nuclear weapons and components sometimes got drunk while on convoy missions, a government watchdog said Monday. In an incident last year, police detained two agents who went to a bar during an assignment.

The Energy Department's assistant inspector general, Sandra D. Bruce, said her office reviewed 16 alcohol-related incidents involving agents, candidate-agents and others from the government's Office of Secure Transportation between 2007 through 2009. Nearly 600 federal agents ship nuclear weapons, weapon components and special nuclear material across the U.S.

Two incidents in particular raised red flags, the report said, because they happened during secure transportation missions while agents checked into local hotels while on extended missions. In these cases, the vehicles were placed in "safe harbor," meaning they were moved to secure locations.

In one case, in 2007, an agent was arrested for public intoxication. The other occurred last year, when police handcuffed and temporarily detained two agents after an incident at a bar.

"Alcohol incidents such as these, as infrequent as they may be, indicate a potential
vulnerability in OST's critical national security mission," the report warns.

So much for the government's Office of [IN]Secure Transportation!!!
You can read the whole report yourself, but when taken along with other documented incidents in the overall care and handling of nuclear weapons - whether it be loading nuclear armed Cruise missiles on a bomber by "mistake", putting a ladder through a Trident missile nose cone or transporting nuclear weapons while drunk - it should make us ask the question, "Is all this worth the risk for weapons that can never be used unless we want to commit mass murder (or omnicide)?"

National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Damien LaVera responded to the report: "NNSA's Office of Secure Transportation maintains a highly trained, highly professional force that has safely and securely transported nuclear materials more than 100 million miles without a single fatal accident or any release of radiation."

That should give us all great comfort, right? Wrong. It only takes one accident, and there is no such thing as absolute safety. And in this case the stakes are too high. It's just a matter of time. And speaking of time, it is most definitely time for our government to take its disarmament responsibility seriously.



P.S. - The Office of Secure Transportation is currently accepting applications (according to their Website. I certainly hope they are tightening up their hiring practices.

Also - A related (and well researched) article in the Kitsap Sun, Navy's Trident Nuclear Warheads Hit the Highway, Bound for Texas, from November 27, 2010.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

START: The Winter of Our Disconnect


I can feel Winter settling in here in Washington's Cascade Mountains as the snow falls this evening; there is a definite chill in the air. While the changing seasons are something to which we adjust, it is critical for continued progress in the control and ultimately the abolition of nuclear weapons that we avoid any "chilling" of relations between the U.S. and Russia.

Right now the Senate must ratify the New START Treaty in order for the Superpowers to get back on track to inspecting each other's arsenals and exchanging information. This connection is necessary to secure ongoing cooperation and produce real security. Without the agreement we can forget about any reduction in the existing nuclear weapons stockpiles.

While ratification of New START is of such importance, there is a very real disconnect in Washington, DC., and not just among a few rogue senators who are trying to scuttle the treaty. Some senators, such as Jim Demint (S. Carolina), James Inhofe (Oklahoma) and Jon Kyle (Arizona) are holding New START hostage in exchange for increased funding of the nation's nuclear weapons complex.

One of their claims is that the Obama administration isn't doing enough to "modernize" the nations nuclear weapons. Judging by the current "modernization" of the nuclear weapons infrastructure along with the ongoing nuclear weapons work that includes the "stockpile stewardship program" (read "rebuilt warheads") I'm not sure how much more they expect the administration to do.

As for the broad scope of this nuclear disconnect, the numbers speak for themselves; the administration had already pledged $80 billion over 10 years to maintain and modernize the nuclear weapons complex. As if this was not enough, Kyl has demanded an additional $4 billion over 5 years, and it appears that Obama is giving in. Even with this offer, it is not looking good for passage of New START by this Congress. Even though we have the 67 votes needed to ratify the treaty, Kyl is trying to prevent a vote until the next Congress!!!

It is inexcusable that these politicians who are supposed to represent "the people" are playing games with the nation's (and the world's) security. First of all, passage of New START is of the utmost importance. Secondly, increasing funding to modernize the nuclear weapons complex and build new weapons neutralizes any previous efforts to reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons (and send a message of hope to other nations).

Non-ratification of New START is NOT an option! Neither is building up an essentially NEW nuclear weapons infrastructure. Both indicate a disconnect between the people's desire to abolish nuclear weapons and the special interests of those who claim to represent us, but who are far too heavily invested (literally and figuratively) in the Military-Industrial Complex and its parent, the National Security State.

We must not cut anyone even an inch of slack on an issue of such critical importance as New START. Although many senators have shown their support for New START (and we should thank them for that) we now need to demand that they apply some serious pressure to those who hold it hostage.

Click here to send a message to your Senators now! Then click here to download the Phone Bank Tool Kit from the Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World, and you and your organization can help mobilize grassroots support for New START! This is our last chance on this one folks!

And just think how far $84 billion would go towards programs of social uplift!!!



Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wadioactive Wabbits ah no waughing matter!

Dear Friends,

No, I haven't lost my mind (contrary to popular opinion); I was just channeling Elmer Fud for a brief moment in response to recent radioactive reports about pesky wadioactive wabbits.

In south central Washington state, tucked away behind barbed wire fences, lies an accumulation of radioactive substances that are byproducts of decades of the U.S. nuclear weapons program; some legacy indeed. The U.S. Government is spending vast sums of money in an attempt to clean up the radioactive contamination; a daunting task considering the extent of contamination of soil, groundwater (seeping into the Columbia River), and the bizarre mix of highly radioactive and reactive substances in the aging underground storage tanks.

Yesterday's headline in the Tri-City Herald, Radioactive rabbit trapped near Richland, is a sobering reminder that radioactive substances, once released into the environment, are difficult, and sometimes impossible) to remove or render "safe". And while the government pays people to keep contaminated animals from escaping the boundaries of one of the planets significantly contaminated places, there is another place where it is more than the occasional radioactive rabbit that is of concern.
The Chernobyl disaster, which for most people is no more than a historical footnote, is still just that - a disaster - for the people living in areas where they continue to be exposed to the residual radiation from the catastrophic events of April 26, 1986. The radioactive Cesium found in that cute, little Hanford bunny (assuming it was Cesium 137) has a half-life of roughly 30 years, and if one ingested rabbit stew made from the little critter one would end up distributing Cesium 137 around the body where it would continually (and fairly intensely) irradiate (from within) muscle cells and organs; think CANCER!

The Cesium 137 released from the Chernobyl accident has most likely affected millions of people downwind of the accident as it was deposited (along with a variety of other radioactive substances) in various concentrations, and silently and invisibly irradiated its victims and increased the risk of radiation-related genetic damage and subsequent cancers and birth defects.

As bad as Chernobyl was, one or more modern thermonuclear weapons detonated anywhere on Earth would unleash an even worse, horrific mixture of deadly radioisotopes that would, beyond the immediate effects in areas of high radioactivity, leave a legacy of chronic health effects affecting countless generations. Any measure that brings stability to the relationship between the nuclear powers and reduces the numbers of nuclear arms reduces the probability of this unthinkable event.

Now that the U.S. elections are over it is high time that the Senate get to work once again on ratifying the New START Treaty. Although the treaty contains only modest reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons stocks, more importantly it improves and extends the verification and monitoring measures of the original START Treaty, which have been important in maintaining nuclear stability after the end of the Cold War.

With U.S. military leaders supporting ratification there is no reason for Republicans to stonewall. It has been nearly a year since the original treaty lapsed, and the clock is ticking; if the Senate doesn't ratify the treaty before year's end the ratification process has to start all over, casting a shadow over its fate, and thus a shadow over the planet.

Even if you previously wrote your Senators in support of the New START Treaty, DO IT AGAIN! Click here to urge them to ratify the New START Treaty now! Keep the heat on; the time for New START is NOW!



Thursday, September 9, 2010

30 Years of Plowshares Disarmament!


September 9, 2010 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Plowshares movement!!!

30 Years ago on September 9, 1980, a small group of peacemakers - Elmer Mass, Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, Dean Hammer, Carl Kabat, Anne Montgomery, Molly Rush, and John Schuchardt - entered the General Electric Nuclear Missile Re-entry Division in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where the nose cones for Mark 12-A nuclear warheads were being manufactured. They carried hammers and their own blood with which they symbolically enacted the biblical prophecies of Isaiah (2:4) and Micah (4:3) to “beat their swords into plowshares” by hammering on nose cones, pouring blood onto documents and offering prayers for peace.

The Plowshares Eight

It was a deeply spiritual act intended to symbolically (and literally) disarm these horrific weapons the government was building in huge numbers in preparation for the ultimate omnicidal act. Of course all eight waited to be arrested, were tried and convicted in Federal court (the government frowns on people messing with their nuclear weapons), and sentenced to prison terms from 1 ½ to 10 years (they also like to make an example). Ten years later, after lengthy appeals, they were re sentenced.

That first group of citizen disarmers became known as the Plowshares Eight, and had started a movement, known as Plowshares, that continues to do its subversive work of turning swords to plowshares (or ploughshares as our friends across the sea refer to it). One thing unique to the Plowshares movement is that it has no formal organization per se, no storefront, no non-profit status, no licensed merchandise. It is an organic movement in which peacemakers act individually and in community, entering military bases and weapons facilities, symbolically (and in many cases literally) disarming weapons of war (with a particular emphasis on those of mass destruction).

These are no crackpot peaceniks mind you! “Parents, grandparents, veterans, former lawyers, teachers, artists, musicians, poets, priests, sisters, house-painters, carpenters, writers, health-care workers, students, gardeners, advocates of the poor and homeless” have all participated in Plowshares actions, and they take their task seriously, routinely going through an intensive process of discernment, spiritual preparation and nonviolence training. They are also very clear on the risks involved, accept full responsibility for their actions, and are prepared for the consequences.

There have around 100 Plowshares actions around the world since the Plowshares Eight wielded their hammers in 1980; Trident II Plowshares, Thames River Plowshares, Gods of Metal Plowshares, Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II, and Waihopi ANZAC Ploughshares to name just a few. Plowshares activists have “disarmed” all kinds of armaments, including components of missiles, submarines, surface ships, aircraft, radar and satellites. And yet, Plowshares actions rarely, if ever, show up on even the innermost pages of any newspaper (and the government likes it that way; "out of sight, out of mind").

Nearly 30 years since that first Plowshares action, on September 2, 2010, a Federal grand jury in Tacoma, Washington handed down indictments against the five members of Disarm Now Plowshares. Anne Montgomery, Bill “BixBichsel, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, and Steve Kelly, each face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the government’s charges of “conspiracy, trespass, destruction of property on a naval installation, and depredation of government property,” associated with their November 2, 2009 Plowshares action. Oooh, "depredation"; now that's a scary word!

Disarm Now Plowshares

Montgomery, who was one of the Plowshares Eight in 1980 recently said that, “It is distressing that 30 years later the nuclear weapons are still here, and the reason that I’m acting is that they’re still here. As citizens of a nation ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’ we must take our responsibility to use every nonviolent means necessary to eliminate these illegal weapons of mass destruction.” At 83, Montgomery is the oldest of the Disarm Now senior citizen disarmers, the youngest of whom is 61.

These hearty souls entered the Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor, Washington through the perimeter fence in the early morning hours of November 2nd, walked for 4 hours across the base carrying a banner, “Disarm Now Plowshares: Trident: Illegal + Immoral”, left a trail of blood, hammered on the roadway and fences around Strategic Weapons Facility – Pacific (SWFPAC) and scattered sunflower seeds throughout the base. They cut the last two fences to enter the secure nuclear weapons storage area where they were detained (with hoods over their heads, laying on the ground for about 4 hours)), and after extensive questioning by base security, FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), cited for trespass and destruction of government property, given ban and bar letters and released. All in a day’s work!

Finally, after ten months of waiting for the wheels of “justice” to grind along, the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants are ready to face trial and, in the words of Fr. Bill “BixBichsel, “We hope to expose the fact that these weapons create absolutely no security. They bring nothing but fear and further proliferation of weapons and war.” These Plowshares activists hope to "expose" and shine a bright light on a very dark subject.

As Daniel Berrigan once said, “Plowshares began disarmament in 1980, doing what the government refused to do for 35 years. With equal concern, Plowshares appealed to the hearts, minds and spirits of the American people—‘You must share disarmament!’ The twin goals of Plowshares—symbolic yet real disarmament and sharing disarmament—have reciprocity. The weapons exist because our fear, violence and hatred built them. Plowshares must address these realities…”

And now, even after 65 years the government still builds the weapons of humankind's destruction, even while it engages in the rhetoric of disarmament.

When they get their day in court the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants hope to break through the government’s veil of secrecy and fear, and make their case to hold the government accountable to abolish nuclear weapons. They seek to disarm not only the weapons, but at the heart of it the "violence and hatred" that simmers deep within our hearts. Let’s hope their voices are heard, and may we all be listening.

Read more about Disarm Now Plowshares (including statements by all the members) at the Disarm Now Plowshares Blog. While there add your name to the list of the many individuals and organizations who have signed on in support of the Disarm Now Plowshares.

And then keep speaking out for disarmament; tell your Senators to speak out publicly in favor of and vote for ratification of the New START Treaty!




The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles west of Seattle, Washington, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2,000 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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Kansas City, Kansas City Here It Comes...

Dear Friends,

August 29th marked the first observance of the International Day against Nuclear Tests, proposed in 2009 by the Government of Kazakhstan at the sixty-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Preamble of the resolution emphasizes “that every effort should be made to end nuclear tests in order to avert devastating and harmful effects on the lives and health of people … and, that the end of nuclear tests is one of the key means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world”.

In his message for the Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “there is real momentum behind this great cause”, and that he looked forward to “working with all parties to rein in spending on nuclear weapons and rid the world of the nuclear threat”.

Meanwhile, back on the Homeland "reigning in spending on nuclear weapons" is not on the table, and ironically the very efforts the U.S. government is putting into building up the U.S. nuclear weapons complex is doing nothing to "rid the world of the nuclear threat", but everything to increase it. And what of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Obama??? According to Nukewatch:
President Obama has declared that he intends to increase next year’s funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) nuclear weapons research and production programs by 14%. Further, despite crippling national debt, he claims their budgets will rise by more than 40% from $6.4 billion in 2010 to $9 billion by 2018. This means that eight years from now, nearly three decades after the end of the Cold War, spending on NNSA research and production programs for nuclear weapons will be 75% higher than the annual Cold War average of $5.1 billion. Is this the right path to Obama’s declared long-term goal of a nuclear weapons-free world?
Now isn't that special! As part of the "modernization" of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, the government will soon break ground on a brand new bomb production plant in Kansas City. Rougly 85 percent of the non-nuclear components for the nation's nuclear weapons come from the current Kansas City plant. Don't worry about the employee health concerns and huge environmental contamination at the current plant though; they'll probably get it right the second time around. Won't they???

Well, there are lots of us out there who don't want to see a second time around. The nation has plenty of nukes with plenty of shelf life left, and we should be spending a whole lot more energy working towards that "nuclear weapons-free world" the Pres has been touting (although his deeds have not followed his words).

What is extra special about this project is that the local Kansas City, MO government is subsidizing private developers, who will build and eventually own the plant (can you say PRIVATIZATION???), using over $750 million in municipal bonds, while the City closes schools and hospitals. What's wrong with this picture?!?!?!

On September 8, 10:00 AM Central Time, federal, congressional and municipal officials will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Kansas City Plant (KCP), and there will be some additional guests (who aren't on the government's guest list). What I hope will be a huge group of nuclear resisters will be showing up at Highway 150 and Botts Road to tell the government, "NO NEW BOMB PLANT!"

I know that most of us can't drop everything and swing over to Kansas City, but we can certainly show our support and solidarity with those who will be there, some of them likely engaging in acts of resistance that will get them arrested.

Please send your message of support (either individual or organizational) to Ann Suellentrop (annsuellen@gmail.com) Kansas City Physicians for Social Responsibility, one of the co-sponsors of the September 8th action. Then ask others to do the same.

I can only hope that some Raging Grannies will show up at Highway 150 and Botts Road on September 8th and perform an appropriate (or should I say inappropriate) version of that great song, Kansas City in dishonor of the new bomb plant.

Supporting our comrades in the struggle for a nuclear weapons-free world.



Read the Statement of Resistance to Nuclear Weapons Production that was delivered to workers and officials during the August 16th civil resistance at the site of the new Kansas City nuclear weapons production plant where 14 resisters were arrested.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Kansas City bomb plant and the upcoming September 8th civil resistance. Here you will find a huge archive of materials courtesy of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Building Bridges (To Peace)


I had the good fortune and honor of spending the weekend commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with fellow nuclear abolitionists, people of a deep, abiding faith in the ability of humanity to one day rid our world of the scourge of nuclear weapons, and build one that is just, peaceful and sustainable.

Rodney Herold videotaped much of that weekend at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and put together a remarkable video that documents the nonviolent direct action that took place on Monday, August 9th, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, at the Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor, Washington. Rodney did much more than simply document the event; he created a powerful statement of hope and the need to build bridges of understanding.

A few years ago the Rev. Joe Hale posed the question, “Is it ever possible to make peace by destroying bridges?” He was speaking in reference to Israel’s indiscriminate destruction of Lebanon, but he could have been speaking of any number of foreign policy decisions made by the U.S. government since September 11, 2001.

The events of that fateful day in 2001 sewed the seeds of fear, anger and hatred, and fueled decisions in the highest levels of government that have made our nation and the world a much more dangerous place. However, things could have taken a much different course, and we still have the opportunity to change course before it is too late.

To change course we must start building bridges rather than destroying them. To do so will require that our nation stop threatening other nations with regime change, fulfill our obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and stop holding the threat of nuclear weapons over other countries, and start using civilian diplomacy rather than military action as a tool of foreign policy. It will also require major shifts in our patterns of energy consumption that have created such a huge reliance on oil. Our priorities must change dramatically.

But none of this can happen without changing ourselves and how we define and address the evils in our world. Not long after 9/11 and before completing the mission in Afghanistan, President Bush laid out the next stage in his war on terror and announced his plans to confront the infamous “axis of evil”, rogue states that threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction. Many years before, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of a completely different axis of evil, one of racism, poverty/materialism, and war that mire people in misery, divide people against one another, and threaten the world with extinction.

President Obama has taken President Bush's lead in trying to rid the world of evil primarily through military action, and foreign aid/poverty assistance linked to what we determine to be "good" government and "good" economic practices. Dr. King, however, believed in addressing racial and cultural tensions, committing unconditionally to free the world of the scourge of poverty, and utilizing nonviolent intervention in international conflicts.

What ultimately sets the two strategies apart are their motivations. The current one is based on fear and hatred and the need for power and desire for resources; the other on faith and compassion and the quest for justice, which are values shared by the world’s great religions. And beyond the motivations, we have seen the consequences of coercion and violence. We, as people of a common humanity, are called to seek a different approach in which we build bridges instead of destroying them.

As Dr. King once so eloquently stated, “Love is the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or to bow before the altar of retaliation. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals who pursued this self-defeating path of hate.” (from Where Do We Go From Here. Chaos or Community? C1968).

Dr. King’s prophetic voice calls us to follow the well-worn path of love and nonviolence, building bridges along the way, connecting with ALL of humanity. I invite you to watch Rodney's video. I hope it will provide you with a glimpse into the hearts and minds of dedicated nuclear resisters, and the network of people who support them. They are people of hope, people who work to build bridges rather than destroy them.

One final note about the video is the poignant music, "Able, Baker, Charlie and Dog", by musician and songwriter Joe Crookston. The song is a very personal story about Joe's grandfather who was part of a U.S. Navy construction battalion in World War II that built the runways on Tinian Island from which the bombers carrying the atomic bombs took off for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Joe's song is far more than background music; it is an integral element, providing yet another person's contribution to our deeper, human understanding of the atomic bombings and the nature of war itself. The song is the perfect accompaniment for Rodney's video.



This post is a revised version of an article originally written for Every Church a Peace Church.

Note: In 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. For thirty-three years Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Bomb and the Hope

Dear Friends,

Nuclear weapons are, for most people, an abstract concept; a concept that exists in the mind (if at all), without any concrete existence. Today's nuclear weapons are kept out of sight and out of mind, not just to protect them from those pesky terrorists (and plowshares activists) but also from the public's awareness. But for the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some of whom are alive today, these weapons are anything but an abstraction, and they are very much aware of the existence of today's nuclear weapons.

Sixty-five years after the atomic bombings we continue working to keep the memory of these horrific events alive, and we typically do so by sharing the facts about and experience of the bombings through written and spoken word, photographs, art, as well as through testimony of survivors of the bombings (Hibakusha).

At last week's From Hiroshima to Hope lantern floating ceremonies at Green Lake in Seattle, Washington, the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Poster Exhibition (from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum) was on display. I was, however, most deeply touched by a presentation of dance accompanied by music that artistically portrayed the bomb and its effects on people far beyond its physical effects. The Bomb and the Hope, an original dance choreographed by iori Yoshimura, is a powerful and moving piece that is (as the title states) about the Bomb, but even more so about Hope.

In the dance a widow comes in searching for her husband, sees him dead, and experiences terrible grief. Then the bomb enters, and when it sees what it has done it feels the magnificence of its power and intimidates the widow, who initially succumbs, feeling fear that reaches such a peak the bomb gets excited and strikes at the widow. Her fear is so great that the widow falls back, feeling that she can't go on - a turning point.

The bomb questions itself; "Is this all I have? Fear? The widow finally approaches the bomb, and touches it. At that moment the bomb questions how the widow can forgive. The bomb then goes off in awe, transformed. The widow takes off her shawl, which has hidden her grief, and walks off, ready to go on.

The Bomb and the Hope was choreographed by iori Yoshimura, danced by iori Yoshimura (as the widow) and Heather Porter (as Pika, the white lightening of the atomic bomb), with accompaniment by Denny Moore on the Native American flute.

I was deeply moved by the spirit of this beautiful dance. It is a testament of the power of the arts to touch our innermost reaches, allowing us to see things in a different light, and perhaps helping lead to our own inner transformation along the nonviolent path. Perhaps The Bomb and the Hope will reach many who have not yet been able to see the atomic bombings as anything more than historical events or sets of statistics. Perhaps it will transform people by helping them see the power of forgiveness.

Watch the video and decide for yourself.



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nuclear Weapons: Resistance Is NOT Futile!

Dear Friends,

The anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have come and gone. The weekend surrounding those two anniversaries was filled with activities commemorating the events. In Hiroshima it was the first time ever that the U.S. Government sent a representative to attend the ceremonies to mark the moment the first atomic bomb was dropped.

There were also other events around the world commemorating the atomic bombings. Some, such as the
From Hiroshima to Hope Lantern Floating Ceremony at Seattle's (Washington State) Green Lake brought people together for peace and nuclear disarmament.

Other events also commemorated the atomic bombings in their own unique solemn fashion by condusting nonviolent resistance actions in which some participants engaged in creative acts intended to symbolically close facilities engaged in the design, production, storage or deployment of nuclear weapons.

People vigiled, demonstrated and acted (nonviolently), and some participants were arrested for their actions at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor (aka Sub Base Bangor),
Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, The Pentagon, the Strategic (Nuclear) Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, Lockheed-Martin's nuclear weapons facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, California.

Nuclear resisters (from left to right) Alice Zillah, Macknight Johnson and Rev. Anne Hall holding a banner, blocking the entrance to Trident nuclear submarine base Bangor, symbolically closing the base, on August 9, 2010. A total of nine resisters blocked the roadway and were arrested that day. Resisters ranged in age from 21 to 88.

People sometimes ask why people choose to engage in such actions when there are other "legal" avenues available to voice one's opinions, avenues that include voting, letters to the editor, correspondence and visits with elected officials, and public demonstrations.

The answer most provide is that they have tried all of these methods, but feel that they have had little, if any, real impact. And in light of what many international legal experts cite as the illegality (and don't forget the immorality) of nuclear weapons and the threat of their use under international law, we (as citizens) must act; we believe that it is essentially our moral obligation and our legal right.

But don't take my word for it; you should hear it from someone who has been arrested more than once, and tried and convicted for her actions. Ann "Kit" Kittredge was recently tried for her action with another resister, Denny Moore, during a Ground Zero vigil honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on January 16, 2010, in which they set up a wooden ladder near the base entrance at the Trident nuclear submarine base and strategic weapons storage facility at Bangor, Washington, and attempted to climb over the barbed wire fence onto the base. They carried with them a letter to the base commander imploring him to disarm the base.

At Kittredge's trial on May 3rd she testified on her own behalf as to the reasons for her action in January. She spoke purposefully and passionately about her act; you can read a copy of her testimony (below), which she provided. My hope is that this testimony of one resister will help people better understand why some choose to resist.

I know many people see resistance as a futile gesture, but for those who make the difficult choice to resist, it is anything but futile. It is a statement of hope, of faith, of a deep abiding belief that we can create a peaceful and sustainable world free of nuclear weapons for future generations.

May it one day be so.



Testimony of Ann Kittredge in United States District Court, Tacoma, Washington on Friday, July 16, 2010.

My name is Ann Marlowe Kittredge.

I am a mother, grandmother, firefighter/EMT, Massage Therapist, Organic Farmer and Peace Activist. i am 11th generation American and a Daughter of the American Revolution. I was taught that the United States Constitution gives me the right to the petition for redress of grievances and that as a citizen of this Democracy and the world it is my patriotic duty and responsibility to do so.After exhausting countless other lawful avenues to advocate for the removal of nuclear weapons and the threat
and/or harm from their potential use I chose to attempt to reenter Naval Base Kitsap to bring to the attention of the relevant officer my concern.

When our Congress and the Federal Judiciary FAIL to ensure that the Executive Branch act within International and U.S. law, to limit method and means of the threat or use of military force, WE THE PEOPLE are compelled to act without being treated as criminals.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention various types of weapons are prohibited under all circumstances. The Trident Nuclear missile submarines at Naval Base kitsap are one of these. These barbaric first-strike Weapons of Mass Destruction are incapable of distinguishing between combatants and civilians and therefore are in violation of International Law per Geneva Protocol of 1925 and by the US Army Manual 27-10 on the Law of the Land National Law. The Charter at the Nuremberg Tribunal made explicit that violations of the Law of War are criminal. Furthermore the United States is obligated under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty to negotiate the elimination of it's nuclear weapons and is failing to do so.

I cannot look my children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them I am aware of this atrocious, destructive, unlawfulness and that I did nothing. I feel it is imperative that I take action in upholding the law for peace and justice or I am complicit in this illegal behavior either by cooperation or by silence.

This is why I chose to reenter Naval Base Kitsap.

Thank You

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our Shared Responsibility for a Shared Future


In our work to abolish nuclear weapons it is often easy to forget how such a complex issue as disarmament interrelates on so many levels with so many other issues.

SECURING A NUCLEAR WEAPON-FREE WORLD TODAY: Our Responsibility to Future Generations is a briefing booklet prepared for those participating in the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It contains some very powerful, persuasive arguments aimed at the decision makers at the NPT Conference.

Beyond the recent NPT conference, the essays in this booklet speak out to all of us engaged in the struggle for a nuclear weapons-free world. The final essay speaks to a holistic vision of peace in which nuclear weapons are only part of a greater conversation because we will never fully disarm until we learn to resolve conflict peacefully, among other things.

The essay, although addressed to world leaders, is also addressed to each of us. It reminds us that nuclear abolition will only occur when all those in power (and indeed all of us) are committed (and here I paraphrase the Quakers) to a world free of war and the threat of war, a world with equity and justice for all, a world where every person's potential may be fulfilled, and an earth restored.

May we all continue working to make it so.



Appeal to World Leaders

Renew Our Hope for Our Shared Future

We assert our deep desire, our firm commitment,
and our inalienable right to live in harmony
with each other and with nature’s laws of
connectedness and interdependence.

We call upon you to realize how past decisions
and actions have threatened our common future
and have left us surrounded by an unjust and
destructive legacy.

Still, we believe that humanity can rise to its
highest ideals and change course to create the
just and peaceful future we know is possible.

We trust you will fulfill your obligations to us
and future generations by:

* Committing to abolish nuclear weapons and
all weapons of mass destruction.
* Resolving conflicts without resort to military
force, and ending the arms trade.
* Redirecting resources from militarism to
human and ecological security.
* Restoring the health of our Earth and
ending the exploitation of her nonrenewable
* Upholding human rights and the dignity
of all individuals, and fulfilling your
responsibilities under international law.

We urge you as world leaders to fulfill your
duty as guardians of our unique, beautiful and
endangered Earth. Renew our hope for our
shared future.

Signed by the World Future Councilors of the Disarmament Working Group:

Hafsat Abiola-Costello
Hans-Peter Dürr
Riane Eisler
David Krieger
Rama Mani
Count Hans-Christof von Sponeck
Pauline Tangiora
Judge C.G. Weeramantry

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bomb Shelters Making a Comeback: The Ultimate in Disaster Capitalism


What is it about fear that makes people go to such great(and seemingly futile) lengths (and cost) to feel safe??? A story as old as (recorded) time, fear has allowed people to profit from the fears of others over countless centuries. It's what Naomi Klein calls Disaster Capitalism, and today the disaster capitalists are doing quite well thanks to the mass fear mongering that has reached epic proportions as the Global War on Terror has continued to escalate.

Many of you remember the good old bomb shelter days of the bad old Cold War. Back in the 1950s many folks decided that "duck and cover" just d
idn't cut it for their families. Keeping up with the Joneses in the 50s often meant building a bomb shelter in one's back yard (or basement). People buried these huge steel drums outfitted with at least a few of the comforts of home - beds, lanterns, canned food and water - and waited for the sirens.
Cool bomb shelter; disco ball optional!

Many also had a radiation detector, a nifty device with which they could determine when it was safe to go outside and try to rebuild their lives in what would have been a vast, radioactive wasteland had the Superpowers unleashed even a portion of their massive nuclear arsenals (roughly 65,000 warheads at the peak of the Cold War).

Well folks, if you are waxing nostalgic right about now for the old days, look no further. USA Today just reported that "Doomsday Shelters" are making a comeback. This is Disaster Capitalism at its best (or should I say worst). At least a couple of companies are making some pretty good money capitalizing on people's worst fears and digging some pretty big holes in the ground and calling them "Catastrophe Shelters."

Think of it as the ultimate pre-catastrophe timeshare. You buy a share for $50,000 per adult, and only half that for kids. When something really nasty is about to go down, you just head down to your designated shelter and, assuming there isn't an angry mob also trying to get in, pop inside and wait out the worst (and wait, and wait, and wait...). Is that a great deal or what??? Of course, I don't even want to start asking how they are going to guarantee up to "five years with food, power, water and filtered air", not to mention how they will keep out the masses of zombies.

All kidding aside, the people behind this trend deny that they are profiting from people's fears. As Robert Vicino, a disaster denizen and founder of the Vivos underground shelter network, says:
"You don't think of the person who sells you a fire extinguisher as taking advantage of your fear," he says. "The fact that you may never use that fire extinguisher doesn't make it a waste or bad... We're not creating the fear; the fear is already out there. We're creating a solution."
I'm not so sure about the fire extinguisher analogy, but I can agree with him on one point; they are not creating the fear. Of course that is simply a matter of semantics. They are building (massively) on existing fears, and are doing a pretty good job of burying the Social Contract. This is the quintessential Naomi Klein vision of a world where only the wealthy are saved.

As for Vivino's claim that they are "creating a solution", I think that a more productive (and socially conscious) solution, particularly from the standpoint of nuclear weapons, might be to learn to address conflict nonviolently and abolish nuclear weapons. The terrorist nuclear threat is being overblown; the greatest threat from nuclear weapons currently is that of nuclear war.

Meanwhile back in the shelter, assuming that people don't go nuts after being cooped up underground for such a long period of time after a nuclear holocaust, once they see what they are returning to they just might wish that they had spent that $50,000 on one huge pre-Armageddon block party. As for me, I am spending my money and energy on nonviolent conflict resolution and nuclear abolition. So there!!!



P.S. - You just have to check out the Vivos Website for yourself; these people are playing up the End Times big time. Talk about fear; these folks are really scary. Here is what their home page has to say:
Vivos is the life assurance solution for you and your family to survive the next earth devastating catastrophe that either nature or mankind may create. Our network of hardened, nuclear blast proof shelters will provide for up to one year of autonomous underground survival for 200 people in each Vivos shelter. We invite you to apply for co-ownership of the Vivos shelter complex closest to your home area from our planned worldwide network. Where else would you go with just a few days' notice? You cannot predict, but you can prepare! Enter Vivos now to learn more.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nuclear Weapons - A Time for The Clergy to Speak Out

Dear Friends,

I write this to those of you in the clergy, that global body of people charged with leading the people to peace. In the Christian Church that, of course, means following the ways of Jesus, and as I read the texts of the New Testament, Jesus' life and teachings are unambiguous - we are not to kill.

As for the church and your role in it, I know how difficult it is for you to inhabit an institution that for roughly 1700 years has been inextricably chained to the very empire it is supposed to resist. Constantine was, indeed, a clever one; no one saw those heavy chains coming.

There have been those who have, from within, challenged us to be more than we are. The Reverend William Sloane Coffin is among those modern day prophets who warned the church and all its inhabitants of the dangers of the empire and its propensity for destruction, including its own.

Coffin worked tirelessly to abolish nuclear weapons. He started a nuclear disarmament program while senior minister at the Riverside Church, and in his later years founded Faithful Security, a coalition for people of faith committed to working for a world free of nuclear weapons.

The church has, for the most part, kept silent for these 65 years since (and about) the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And since those bombings the U.S. and Soviet Union have led the world in building up huge arsenals of nuclear weapons far beyond the destructive capabilities of the bombs dropped on Japan.

What could (and should) the church do if it wishes to recapture the spirit of the early church before it was co-opted. Here is what Gary Kohls, M.D., a founding member of Every Church a Peace Church, has to say:

Much of the responsibility for causing and, therefore preventing, military atrocities like Nagasaki lies with the Just War Theory American Christian churches and whether or not they will finally start teaching what Jesus taught and then living as he lived: the unconditional love of friend, neighbor and enemy the refusing to kill other children of a loving God.

The next Nagasaki can be prevented if the churches courageously and publicly resist militarism by active nonviolent means and refuse their government’s call for the conscription of the bodies and souls of their sons and daughters.

If the churches start to exercise their sacred duty to warn their young parishioners about what killing does to their souls, it may not be too late to save the suffering people of a dying, war-torn, financially and morally bankrupt planet.
In a little over two weeks people will come together to remember the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and rededicate themselves to the abolition of nuclear weapons. People of faith should all be at the forefront of this struggle (and many already are), and they need strong and courageous leadership to guide them on this difficult path.

On August 8th, the Sunday between the anniversaries of the bombings, ministers in the vast majority of churches will go about the usual Sunday business of worship. Perhaps a few will offer a brief litany or prayer related to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even fewer will preach a sermon on the subject.

So I challenge each of you good clergy people - people of faith; people of a gentle, loving, merciful god - to ask what God wishes of you and what that gentle Jesus would say if he dropped by your office and you asked him about that August 8th sermon. I challenge you to give the sermon that will make the people sit up and listen, that will make many uncomfortable and perhaps even more of them angry, but above all to make them accountable. I challenge you to breathe life into the words that on so many Sundays are just that - words.

Rabbi Heschel once said that "There is the grain of the prophet in the recesses of every human existence." I challenge you to find that prophetic voice deep inside yourself and bring it out. The world can't wait and the people desperately need to be roused from their stupor.

Why now? Why the Sunday of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki 65th anniversaries? Why not!?!? Of all the abominations forced by humans on their fellow humanity, none is more diabolical than nuclear weapons. There is no other single weapon in the world capable of instantly incinerating hundreds of thousands of people in an instant.

So I ask you with all humility to speak up on Sunday, August 8th; speak up with all the faith and conviction possible. And then speak up some more. As the Rev. William Sloane Coffin once said in his book, Passion for the Possible, A Message to U.S. Churches:

It's my own deep feeling that most people in the pews are far more prepared for painful truths than we give them credit for. What they want their preachers to do is to raise to a conscious level the knowledge inherent in their experience. And the majority of them realize that the painful truths known and spoken sour and subvert life less than those known and unspoken. So let us not hesitate to speak up, to preach with clarity and compassion at true and lively biblical word, remembering always that our calling is to serve the Lord, not to be servile to our congregations.

In Peace,


P.S. - One more thing you can do as leaders of the people is to participate in activities surrounding the anniversaries of the atomic bombings. Communities, large or small, have vigils, lantern lighting ceremonies or other gatherings on or around one or both anniversaries.

Click here to find an event in your state. If you are in Washington State, click here for events.

And just one more thing: check out the Two Futures Project and Faithful Security!

The quote by Gary Kohls is from one of his
Duty to Warn essays, The Bombing of Nagasaki August 9, 1945: The Untold Story.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

From Trinity to Trident: A Story of Resistance


On July 16, 1945 the first experimental atomic bomb was exploded at the site known as Trinity at Alamogordo, New Mexico in the desert called Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death) . It marked the beginning of a journey toward what could someday be the end.

The rest, as they say, is history (and some of it particularly horrific history); but the history is still being written each day as many nations (led by the model of the United States) continue to rely on nuclear weapons while others seek to develop them. Monkey see, monkey do!!!

Our nation could be leading the world toward disarmament and ultimately abolition, but instead we continue to utilize the rhetoric of "deterrence" and "national security", and seem to find a host of enemies since losing the comfort of the Cold War enemy. As a result we are re-building the infrastructure that made Trinity - and over the years tens of thousands of nuclear weapons - possible.

Billions are being spent on new facilities at the Kansas City Plant, Y-12, Los Alamos and Pantex. These huge investments represent, as stated on the National Nuclear Security Administration's Website, "
the investment need to transform a Cold War nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century Nuclear Security Enterprise."

Then there is Trident (Ohio class submarines), what the U.S. Navy calls “the nation’s most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability.” Not only is Trident "survivable and enduring" (whatever enduring is supposed to mean), but it is a significant weapons system of mass destruction.

With 24 Trident missiles, each missile carrying up to 8 independently targetable nuclear warheads, and each warhead having an explosive yield of as much as 475 kilotons, just one Trident submarine is capable of incinerating much of any continent and rendering the land uninhabitable for anyone unfortunate to survive the initial blast and radiation effects. The U.S. has 14 Trident subs outfitted for the Trident D-5 missile.

On July 16, 2010, exactly 65 Years to the day that that first atomic weapon was exploded over the sands of New Mexico, a small band of people dedicated to the abolition of nuclear weapons gathered in front of the U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington to vigil in support of their fellow nuclear resisters who would be in court that day for their resistance to our governments continuing reliance on nuclear weapons as a tool of national policy.

Although nuclear weapons, and particularly the idea of abolishing them, are not on most people's radar, there are groups (mostly small) scattered around the world dedicated to abolishing nuclear nuclear weapons. They attempt to bring the subject to the forefront of public dialogue, reminding people that living beneath the nuclear Sword of Damocles is more than long enough. The string that supports that sword is aging, and we can only play with (nuclear) fire so long before we get burned.

This past July 16th there were 3 nuclear resisters in court. One, Jessica Arteaga, was arraigned for her previous action blocking the entrance to the Trident submarine base at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in May during a May 3, 2010 vigil and action by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (GZ) coinciding with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference. Arteaga pleaded not guilty to a charge of trespassing and had a trial date set.

Two other resisters, Ann Kittredge and Denny Moore, were tried for their action on January 16, 2010, during a GZ vigil honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in which they set up a wooden ladder and attempted to climb over the barbed wire fence onto the Bangor sub base. Moore made it over, while Kittredge was tackled by Naval Masters at Arms before she could top the fence. Moore was taken down moments later.

Pre-trial vigil on July 16th in front of courthouse: photo by Gilberto Perez

Both Kittredge and Moore pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing. When questioned by her defense attorney as to her motivation for her action, Kittredge related her action to the vision of Dr. King. Kittredge enumerated her ongoing efforts including letters and petitions to government, as well as marches and demonstrations to change our government's policy and reduce investments in nuclear weapons. She tried to convey the message that that nuclear weapons were physically threatening to her own children and grandchildren and families and people everywhere. Exhausted by her efforts and seeing no change she chose nonviolent resistance as her only available means to alert the courts and citizens at large about the dangers of nuclear weapons.

Moore, a Vietnam combat veteran with two sons-in-law in the military (one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan) chose to forgo legal counsel, and took the stand in his own defense. Moore stated that like Kittredge, he has tried all the usual means to confront our government about building and servicing nuclear weapons. He said, “Sometimes the country needs to be in the citizen's hands.” Moore had carried his personal letter to the base commanding officer asking him to act on behalf of undoing our nuclear arsenal. In the trial, Moore emphasized the need to get his letter to the commanding officer.

It was acknowledged by the government during trial that the letter was taken from Moore by one of the Masters at Arms after his arrest, but there is no record of it having been among his personal effects. Did it ever reach the base commander? Certainly Moore never had the opportunity to deliver it.

When all was said and done the judge found both Kittredge and Moore guilty of trespassing, and handed down sentences. Moore, who had never received a ban and bar letter, is to pay a fine of $100 and $35 in court costs, and serve 50 hours of community service. Kittredge, who has previously received a ban and bar letter, was fined $200 and $35 in court costs, given one year of probation, and must serve 50 hours of community service.

Twenty five supporters (and fellow abolitionists), who had stood vigil before the arraignment and trials, filled the courtroom to witness the proceedings. Beyond the personal conviction and courage that it takes to become (and sustain being) a nuclear resister, it requires a community to support each other on many different levels. Ultimately, however, it is these active resisters (like Arteaga, Kittredge and Moore), putting their personal freedoms on the (blue) line to bear witness to the insanity and criminality of nuclear weapons, and to bring it to the attention of those who have the ability (and responsibility) to move our nation (and ultimately the world) towards their abolition.

As we remember that first bomb, and soon remember the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let us give our enduring support to those who resist nuclear weapons and work for the day when there are no bombs, so that we will be able to look back on those bombs that were dropped in August, 1945 as THE LAST BOMBS. May it be so.



Many thanks to my colleague, Tom Shea, for covering the arraignment, trials and vigil, and supplying me with all the news that's fit to print! Thanks also to Gilberto Perez for the vigil photo!