Results of sentencing: 

March 12 2001

Peter, Donna,  Bill

Dear Friends and fellow resisters, 

We're just back from the sentencing hearing and the results are that we have each been sentenced to the maximum fine($500) for our action last August 9 which was an attempted citizen's arrest of General Ralph Eberhart commander of the U.S. Space Command and Air Force Space Command (see: Citizens issue arrest warrant for Gen Ralph (Ed) Eberhart).  Judge Gary Seckman did not impose jail time(the maximum could have been 90 days)  The entire sentence was stayed (delayed) until the appeal process is final which will likely be several months.  I have attached below copies of the sentencing statements of Donna and Bill.  Peter's statement has not yet been converted to a useable form for e-mail.  We'll send it later.  Please let us know if you'd like a copy.

Other comments.

Prosecutor Victoria Ringleer was not present for sentencing.  Some of the comments had been formulated with her presence being presumed.  The stand-in from the City Attorney's staff had nothing to say in response to our remarks.  But Judge Gary Seckman did.  He seemed angry at some of the comments of the three of us and extremely defensive in his remarks.  Kept saying that it was all a matter of "different philosophies."  His remarks seemed disjointed and not responsive to the points that we made.  It would be good to have his actual words in the interest of fairness,  but it was not a notable opinion in my estimation.

The standard City Court rules allow for a fine to be paid of at $7 per hour of community service.  That would men 70+ hours for each of us if we go that route.  August 12 is the earliest possible day of reckoning.  It could be later if the appeals process is still running its course.  The appeal will be very similar to others made around the country.  But Colorado does have a unique "public duty statute" that probably not all states have.  There is certainly nothing similar in the federal code.  Our attorneys Walter Gerash and Sue Tyburski will be preparing the appeal and any help you might be able to offer would be appreciated.

Bill Sulzman
P.O. Box 915
Colorado Springs, CO 80901
Ph 719 389 0644


Sentencing Statement
March 12
Bill Sulzman

I would like to address my remarks today to Judge Beckman, prosecutor Ringler and all who attended the trial and have returned today.  In my statement I will address some of the points that never made it into the trial on February 8 because we were not allowed to present a defense version of events.  We were restricted to telling the jury that "we never intended to break the law," while not telling them what we did intend to do.  A scenario that played out over the course of a couple of hours was represented as taking place in a few minutes.  Our attorney was not allowed to cross examine the prosecution's own witnesses who on direct testimony described receiving copies of our arrest warrant and told of hearing our repeated requests to them that they help serve it.  No mention was allowed of our extensive conversation with Sgt Morgan, General Eberhart's top aide who came by to discuss the matter with us.  There are other details of that extended period of time that I do not have time to go into here including a long conversation with the City Police officers who negotiated an end of the incident.  Instead let us turn to the core issue:

Nuclear weapons are the key issue left out of the trial.  They were and are the central reality in this courtroom, the proverbial elephant in the living room, one might even say the TREX in this courthouse today.  I know that courts, lawyers and judges have some standard means to wall off nuclear weapons from consideration but finally there they are right in front of us threatening to destroy us if we keep pretending that they are not there. 

I want to read briefly from three sources that back up what I have to say today and what we three had in our minds as we went about our attempted citizen's arrest of General Eberhart on August 9th.

From Almanac 2000 a publication of the Air Force Space Command which has a quote from General Eberhart on the title page:

Page 13 "HQ, 20th Air Force: America's intercontinental ballistic missile team…of approximately 9000 people based at three operational missile units and one operational location, Twentieth Air Force operates, maintains and ensures the safety, security and combat readiness of the country's ICBM force.  Missile combat crews perform around-the clock alerts in underground launch control centers.  These two-person crews monitor the status of 500 Minuteman III and 50 Peacekeeper missiles scattered across 45.000 square miles in parts of Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming."

And I would like to add some quotes from a lengthy newspaper cover story done in the same time frame by the military affairs reporter of the Colorado Springs Gazette (December 17, 2000):  "Air Force Lt. Joe Roth's office is 75 feet underground, a cramped capsule nested in another capsule that the 27 year old officer likens to 'a yoke inside an egg'... ''below the farmland formerly used for wheat is a control center where Roth monitors some of the most powerful weapons in the world-U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles."

Later in the story we have a description of the ride down to the underground command bunker..."As they started an alert earlier this month, Moore and Roth flashed identification to the guards outside the (above ground) house, said hello to those on duty above ground and then rode a cagelike elevator down to the control center.  On its way down, their elevator passed a mural of a bloodthirsty beast with bright teeth, glow in the dark eyes and a missile launch key in one claw."  Pardon me if I am not amused at this attempt at gallows humor.  We are talking about doomsday weapons deployed for decades and people are joking about it.

Later in the piece we have a quote from Bruce Blair from the Center for Defense Information (who at one time worked inside one of these underground bunkers and inside Cheyenne Mountain)) which offers a critique of the nuclear war decision making structure as he vividly remembers it.  "It is going to war by checklist.  There is no scope for rational thought and deliberate leadership."

Finally we get to a description of what the gallows humor and war by checklist is all about.  For this information the Gazette had to go to the Natural Resources Defense Council.  The Air Force would not provide that information.  One speculates that is part of the denial process that they have in common with courts across the country who refuse to deal with this issue.  When launched "the missile reaches its target in about 30 minutes.  A single, typical warhead flattens buildings and kills most people in a 2.5 mile ring from ground zero and starts fires in an area twice that size."  If we overlay that area on Colorado Springs we are talking about from here to Jackson street on the north, southgate on the south.  Circle Drive to the east and 21st street to the west.  And that is just the immediate destruction.  The fires would rage for days and consume most of the rest of the city and radiation exposure would kill tens of thousands in a manner that would make the living envy the dead.  I use this example not thinking that Colorado Springs is where these missiles are aimed.  It's the 7 countries on the current target list that have to worry about this destruction.  As I suggested these brutal horrific facts are what the Air Force and this and numerous other courts want to deny.  That is what the "Robinson decision" says is irrelevant.  That is what sends people at all levels of our political and judicial system to look at their own version of the checklist so they don't have to face the truth of what they are doing.

To add a personal note I refer to what I did in October 1962 while I was stationed at Ft. Carson's 19th MP Company and was ordered to guard the motor pool as the nuclear standoff against the Russians took place at the time of the Cuban missile crisis.   When I reflected back on that later I realized that I had been complicit in a monstrous war crime even though a nuclear exchange did not happen at that point.  It was in this same time period that I first became aware of the fact that the rules of land warfare, contained in Army Field Manual 27-10 do apply to U.S. soldiers and civilians.  I remember the basic training session on that subject and later as training clerk of the 19th MP Company I had to run the film on 2 occasions that reviewed the subject for members of my unit.

A few years later I found myself in a Catholic seminary in Rome as the Second Vatican Council issued its condemnation of the nuclear arms race in all its forms.  Thirty-seven years later nothing has changed despite that condemnation because all the parties involved deal with the subject through checklists and not reason and deliberation.  As with many great evils, nuclear war is a sin and a crime.   My personal opposition comes from a moral concern, but I have studied the legal aspects as well.

In closing I want to make two final points:

1.   I believe the Robinson decision is not on point for this case for two reasons.  It was issued before the end of the Cold War and before the ICJ opinion of 1996.  Our expert witness, Dr. Bill Durland who was not allowed to testify could have made those points much better than I, but let me say what is behind my own reasoning.  The ICJ opinion dealt with the nuclear question before the fact.  The reason the opinion was sought was the fact that International Lawyers correctly concluded that if we wait until after a nuclear war to declare it illegal, who cares.  It's too late.  Civilian courts would be a luxury at that point. The world needed a legal opinion ahead of time that addressed possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons.  At that pre use stage these weapons are already criminal and that is when we a need a legal remedy. 

2. Finally I want to make a direct appeal to you Judge Seckman and to you assistant City attorney Ringler to start a process of review of what goes on on the City property at Peterson AFB relative to the 24/7 deployment and command of the doomsday weapons we are talking about. There should be another city file on Peterson in addition to the one with the maps and lease agreements.  This new file needs to contain the information about what goes on relative to nuclear weapons and how that squares or does not square with international law and Colorado law.     If you do not do that I believe that you will have given your personal legal embrace to weapons of mass destruction.  One could say that your fingerprints are on the weapons and the plans to use them and if there were a court to try you you would be found guilty of war crimes for
your actions.  I say this now more than ever given the revelations in this 3rd document, the newspaper account of last week's revelations about current nuclear targeting (read first two paragraphs).

If you have a rebuttal to that that you can sell to the courtroom full of folks assembled here I'd like to hear it. Just to be clear once again I repeat the quote from the Gazette's story" "A single, typical warhead flattens buildings and kills most people in a 2.5 mile ring from ground zero and starts fires in an area twice that size…This is madness.  This is wrong.  This is criminal.

Donna's statement

The Air Force, the City and even this Court may see us as a sorry lot.
Well, actually there are a not-so-sorry-lot more of us than you might think. But we are sorry, although perhaps not for the reasons you hope to hear:
1.  I am sorry we did not accomplish our citizen's arrest of General Eberhart. We have tried before and we will try again. The German people, regular citizens such as ourselves, were criticized after WWII for not having done more to stop the Nazis. Somehow they couldn't let themselves believe that such bad things were really happening in their towns. Bad things are happening in our town and we must not wait until it is too late to do something to stop the military people who think it is okay to annihilate hundreds of thousands of innocent people, saying they are just following orders.

2.  I am also sorry that more of us were not available that day to assist in making the arrest. We will have more people there next time. At some future point the issues we raise will be taken seriously. We can only hope that day will come before the U.S. starts dropping nuclear bombs again.

3.  And I am very sorry that the City and the Air Force cannot think outside the little in limine box of rules so that the trial could have been about what it is really about: crimes against humanity, violations of International Laws, and the breaking of treaties. Why does the City do the dirty work of the Air Force?

4.  I am sorry that the Civil Religion, which is a strange version of Christianity, in this country does not even get close to understanding, much less loving our enemies. In fact, "unlimited retaliation" (the standard before the Ten Commandments) is our middle name. Domination of the air, land and seas is the goal of the U.S. so that we can get richer at the expense of others who already don't get their share of the world's goods. We are 6% of the world's population using more than half of the word's resources. And now the U.S. has a new list of targeted enemies and a plan for even more nuclear bombs. How far will you let this illegal and immoral madness go before you do something to stop it? To think on a different scale, if your next-door neighbor acted like this you would be outraged and take action.

5.  And finally I am sorry that the City will not take a look at what is happening on City property. You worry more about whose feet are where than about the thousands of weapons of mass destruction that will end life as we know it on this planet. In my work as a psychologist we call this denial. Denial is not a good thing and we work to bring that which is denied into consciousness. That is my reason for making a Citizen's Arrest and I am nowhere near sorry for doing that. And no consequences imposed by this court for our effort to uphold international law and speak against the immorality of nuclear weapons will stop us from further acts of civil resistance.

Donna Johnson  


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