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.
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Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.