A U.S. federal judge this week turned down a request to allow a new trial for three peace activists that were arrested in 2012 for sneaking into a secured area of the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee, the Knoxville News-Sentinel reported on Thursday.
Megan Rice, an 83-year-old Catholic nun, along with fellow Transform Now Plowshares members Greg Boertje-Obed, 56, and Michael Walli, 64, were found guilty in May on two felony charges of interfering with national security and damaging government property through their July 2012 break-in at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The aging protesters cut through a number of fences in order to reach the exterior of the site’s highly enriched uranium storehouse, which they proceeded to decorate with peace advocacy signs. They also dumped a bucket of blood onto the scene before they were arrested.
District Judge Amul Thapar in his ruling, released on Tuesday, disagreed with the defense’s argument the activists did not plan to cause harm to national defense, saying their court testimony and phone conversations while in jail suggested they wanted to undermine the Y-12 complex’s capacity to manufacture and stockpile warhead parts.
“The defendants are entitled to their views regarding the morality of nuclear weapons,” Thapar wrote. “But the defendants’ sincerely held moral beliefs are not a get-out-of-jail-free card that they can deploy to escape criminal liability.”
The judge also refused a separate motion to acquit the activists.
The three protesters are presently in jail in southern Georgia. Sentencing hearings have been planned for late January. The charges carry penalties of a maximum of 30 years behind bars.
The break-in incident was a huge embarrassment to the contractors that operate and guard the Tennessee site and to the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the U.S. nuclear-weapons complex. Members of Congress have suggested different actions for improving the agency’s ability to monitor U.S. weapon facilities.
What We're Following See More »
It took long enough, but the Trump administration finally includes an Agriculture secretary. "The Senate easily approved Sonny Perdue on Monday" by a count of 87-11. Perdue enjoyed the support of Democrats like Delaware's Chris Coons and Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, both of whom spoke in his favor.
"A media arm of the State Department is using federal resources to promote President Donald Trump’s private Florida golf club, fueling scrutiny of the nexus between the president’s official duties and his personal financial interests." On April 4, "Share America, the State Department’s social media-friendly news website, paid homage to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club ... hailing the president’s use of 'the winter White House, as Share America dubbed it, to host world leaders."
President Trump today said he'll be releasing his tax reformpacakge next week around the 100-day mark of his presidency. He promised that "businesses and individuals will receive a 'massive tax cut ... bigger I believe than any tax cut ever."
Despite President Trump's announcement that his tax reform proposal would be released this week, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney now says it will be ready in June. This week's announcement will be limited to "specific governing principles."