Plowshares Update

27 January 2003

From: Jonah House

Dear friends,

We hear from Sr. Carol and Sr. Ardeth. They are active with helping others, answering mail and preparing their legal defense. We miss them here at Jonah House....We're sending this update so you can read about their current legal situation.  If you can, take a minute to send in the form to stand in solidarity with the sisters.  The forms may be used in court...or once on the mailing list, you may be asked to write to the judge directly....thanks.

Love and peace, Liz, Gary and Susan at Jonah House

Sacred Earth And Space Plowshares II
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares..." Isaiah 2:4

Amid all the talk of other countries possessing weapons of mass destruction, three Roman Catholic Sisters--Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and Jackie Hudson--decided to look in the US to expose weapons of mass destruction here. Consequently, since October, they have been in jail in Colorado.

Early in the morning of October 6, 2002, the first anniversary of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the sisters, wearing hazmat suits labeled "Citizens Weapons Inspection Team" and "Disarmament Specialists", inspected a suspicious site on a farmer's field in Colorado and found a first-strike 300 kiloton (20 x the Hiroshima bomb) Minuteman III nuclear missile on high-alert. They symbolically disarmed the missile with household hammers and their own blood. They opened the site for public inspection. Forty-five minutes later they were arrested and taken to jail.

The nuns and their legal team argue the obvious. Any United States threat or use of any weapon or tactic of mass destruction is every bit as illegal and criminal as anyone else's. Any threat or use of the Minuteman III nuclear weapon is a war crime. The US must pursue and complete good faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament  in all its aspects as agreed to in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This, necessarily non-violent process, includes declaration of all nuclear weapons, taking them off high alert and allowing inspections to verify disarmament.

Jackie, Ardeth and Carol began a reasonable, non-violent and symbolic inspection and nuclear disarmament process in compliance with US and international law. Yet, they are charged with Sabotage and Malicious Destruction of Property of the United States. These two charges carry maximum sentences of 20 and 10 years respectively, and up to $250,000 in fines on each count.

Srs. Carol Gilbert, OP, Ardeth Platte, OP and Jackie Hudson, OP  are still in the jail in Georgetown.  The sisters and their legal team filed motions on Jan 10: motions to dismiss the sabotage and depredation of property charges.

The sabotage charge is based on destroying or attempts to destroy "national defense materials."  The sisters argue that the Minuteman III is not "national defense material" because a nuclear weapon of horrific mass destruction such as the Minuteman III can never be legally threatened or used within the intransgressible rules and principles of humanitarian law.

"National defense materials" cannot legally include a weapon such as the Minuteman III, N-8 that intentionally targets civilians, poisons and destroys the environment.

The depredation of property charge concerns "property" of the US that has "practical usage." The laws of war prohibit any threat or use of the alleged "property",  the Minuteman III.  According to the U.S. Constitution, the Prosecutor may not do what he tries in this case. The general protection of property statute may not be applied in this way that ignores or abrogates the laws of war or that condones an instrument of a war crime.

On the same day that these motions were filed, the US Attorney filed motions, also.  One motion was for all prior arrests to be brought forward during the trial. Other motions seek to prohibit praying in front of the jury and a third asks to prohibit defendants or defense council from referring to the defendants as "Sisters." The Prosecutor also moved to exclude "choice of evils, justification or international law defenses."

Just remember, as a first strike high alert weapon, the Minuteman III is part of an active and massive nuclear first strike threatening all life on this planet.  By bringing this prosecution, the Prosecutor himself has raised and cannot exclude the laws of war that prohibit any threat or use of the alleged "national defense materials" and "property" elements of the crimes charged.

The 300 kiloton Minuteman III actively threatens and intends to vaporize every living being within 50 square miles.  Outside the 50 square miles, extending over hundreds of square miles, the blast, heat, firestorms and neutron and gamma rays are intended to kill, severely wound and poison millions of people both immediately and into future generations, destroy or render useless all buildings and facilities and cause widespread, long term and severe damage to the environment.  Ardeth, Carol and Jackie reasonably and lawfully showed how we can rid ourselves of such a ghastly prospect by systematic and non-violent nuclear disarmament.

Court dates at Denver Federal Court:
Motions Hearing: February 21, 2003
Pretrial Hearing: March 28
Trial : March 31st 10:30 am

Write to the sisters at: Clear Creek Co. Jail Box 518 Georgetown, CO 80444

An Invitation to stand in Solidarity With The Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II

I stand in solidarity with Sisters Carol, Ardeth, and Jackie of the Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II, calling for nuclear disarmament and an end to war-making on behalf of present and future generations and of the Earth.

Name (Print & Signature)

Address (Street, Post Office, City, State, Zip)

____I understand that my name may be used in a public way or in print or in a statement of solidarity in the court proceedings.

Please send to: Citizens For Peace In Space Box 915 Colorado Springs, CO 80901

For more information contact Jonah House: 1301 Moreland Ave, Baltimore, MD


Phone: 410-233-6238

( Other reports on 3 ploughshares nuns here )

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