I’ve been preparing for more than a year, discussing with other people and then specifically Megan and Michael.
Many months ago, Megan learned about the Disarm Now Plowshares, and she went to the trial on the west coast, and that moved her to want to explore doing a similar type action. Because of the experience, all the expert witnesses they had, all the reasons why nuclear weapons are illegal.
And Michael has always felt that the rule of law is a key motivating factor for him. He believes strongly that nuclear weapons are illegal, and that we have a duty and an obligation, especially according to Nuremberg Principles, to take steps to intervene in war crimes of building nuclear weapons.
Was there any physical fitness preparation, did you expect this to be a rigorous…?
I did ask Megan to practice walking. Months in advance, you know, because she does lose breath when she walks a long distance. And she had been practicing.
But not cardboard boxes.
That’s a recent problem.
We take responsibility for what we did. We say, we are the people who did it, and we want to explain why we believe it was legal and the right thing to do.
In the early morning, 2:00, 2:30, whatever it may be, on July 28th, that morning — can you say, I think we talked somewhat about this, but I’m not sure — did someone actually drop you off at a certain point?
That’s another thing that we say: the Spirit led us there. And we don’t want to implicate other people who might have not wanted to be known.
It boils down to, nuclear weapons are designed to be of mass destruction. They are going to kill civilians. The intent of killing civilians is a war crime also. And preparing, just by building you are preparing for a war that will kill civilians.
Video by Michael Patrick, News Sentinel
(published in issue #167 of the Nuclear Resister newsletter)
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.
– Psalm 118.22-23
When Megan, Michael and I were preparing for the witness that became the Transform Now Plowshares, we discussed this passage and were struck by how it might apply to the action we were considering. We learned of government and corporate plans to build a new factory for making “modernized” nuclear weapons, called the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF). Peace activists called for a campaign to halt the plans for this $7.5 billion death factory whose projected costs kept increasing. We knew that many of our international treaties committed us to stop building nuclear weapons and to reduce to zero our weapons of mass destruction.
When studying the above scripture, we read that Jesus quoted it in a parable in which he was the stone rejected by the religious and political leaders of his day. He was to become the cornerstone for followers of the Holy One. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the early disciples quoted this verse, applying it to the rejection of Jesus and his rising from the dead.
A thought that came to us was that the builders of nuclear weapons have rejected the teachings and example of Jesus. Our leading was to seek to act in the tradition of plowshares actions, to bring hammers and blood, and to attempt to hammer on a cornerstone of a building used for making nuclear horror weapons. We knew that a recent structure was built that was intended to be a counterpart to the proposed UPF.
Our intention was to reject nuclear weapons as a cornerstone of our national policy by symbolically and actually hammering on a cornerstone of the new building. We also intended to explain that our action was a rejection of the U.S. role in the world. We knew that our nation functions as an empire that viciously oppresses weaker peoples around the world. Nuclear disarmament and rejection of imperial oppression are both necessary for justice and life.
We believe God clearly guided us through the fences to the uranium building where we put up banners, poured blood, spray painted, put up crime scene tape, and began to hammer on a lower corner of the wall beneath an imposing guard tower. After a few blows, the wall began to crumble. After a few more strikes, the hole widened. A short while later, Megan came with her tiny hammer and swung a few times. The wall continued to crumble.
We give thanks for the miraculous leading of the Spirit, which is how we understand the action occurred. If God can raise people from the dead, then God can lead people past forces of death to continue the process of transforming structures of death to become structures for life-enhancing purposes.
We continue to pray for more transforming and are encouraged by the Spirit that sings:
This is the day that the Lord has made,
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
– Psalm 118:24
(slideshow of pictures from all four days of the walk)
Today the four-day Walk for Nuclear Disarmament ended as Susan Crane returned to prison in Dublin, California. Susan’s incarceration is a witness to peace and noncooperation with evil, and her physical confinement is a visible symbol of the very real imprisonment we all experience, living with the existence of nuclear weapons.
Mike Walli, Sr. Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed (himself in jail awaiting trial) sent Susan this note of solidarity:
Know that we walk with you, Susan, each day as you carry the Light of Hope, Love, faith and compassion, which is hourly bringing transformation of minds and hearts, beginning with each one of us, of course.
– Transform Now Plowshares, Megan and Mike and Greg
Below are some of the thoughts shared by the participants on day three of this four-day, 40 mile walk.
We walked though Niles Canyon today, it was a walk made possible by working support vehicles driven by Margo Shafer and Bill Joyce, and by George Cammerada, who had an orange vest and orange flag; George was able to slow the traffic down and let them know there was something happening ahead. At one point I counted the drivers who waved to us….out of the next 10 cars that came by, 7 gave us a wave or a peace sign! That is a lot to think about. 70% of the people in the US just knee-jerk want peace? Seems so. We believe it.
Our shoes are dusty, and our feet are tired. I guess that’s the nature of walks. We feel good together, and this walk for nuclear disarmament is too short.
Tonight we are staying at the Trinity Lutheran church in Pleasanton. Folks here are very friendly.
Sr. Fran Tobin, from Anne Montgomery’s community, walked with us today. Anne is getting weaker each day, so Fran walked with us in her stead.
I love the community, the opportunity to meet with people along the way, the hospitality…
I think that starting with the circle we had at Sunnyvale, it’s easy to look around such a small circle —it seems one could get the feeling that the circle is so small, but the whole walk makes me think of the spirit —we don’t know the effect of the prayer of our walking, and I gathered a lot of strength. We aren’t here to judge or measure, but just carry on.
– Bob Russell
The main perk of driving the sag was the opportunity to repeatedly catch glimpses of the beautiful banner-bearing procession — led by george, so proficient at flagging cars down to slower speeds along the tight canyon curves. At each point, and especially when joined by the mother pushing her child in the baby carriage, inspiring enough to break your heart.
For me, this walk shows how widely people from diverse cultures, religions, and ages agree fully with the stand Susan has taken. Those we asked to host us HAD to agree because in their hearts they knew this is what they believe too about eliminating nuclear weapons. If we had asked them to come to a vigil or write a letter they may not have been so committed. It had to be a walk, close and personal, and, unfortunately for Susan, it had to involve a level of commitment that risks her own freedom, at least for a time. I’m grateful to be a part of this.
–Mary Jane Parrine
I had the ultimate experience walking with Susan in support of her dedication to free the world of weapons of destruction. Susan is the most dedicated person who I know and her example give me strength to give my life to the Lord and serve the men in our county jail. I look forward to spending time with her in the coming months.
Very cool experience today as a part-time anti-trident activist! One day in 1000 qualifies me. Humbling as cars/trucks buzzed by us flipping us off but more commonly smiling and signaling the peace sign. I felt privileged to walk with Susan; that’s why I came after all. She and God call me to witness against the horrors of the world and wear this cloak for a short time…wishing I could do it more full-time. Susan is a surrogate for so many of us; a hero; a courageous soul that stands tall to shout out love and resistance for the perpetuation of the species.
The walk has been a journey in many ways. It seems like we have been walking so much longer than three days with all the people who have greeted us along the way and people of peace who joined us for any amount of time that they could spare to help us say ” No to nuclear weapons, no to nuclear war, and no to nuclear proliferation.” Tonight we are tired but it is a good tired and we have definitely formed a community and I can feel it to the core. I am grateful to have witnessed this message. Tomorrow will end our time together when we take Susan to the prison but in many ways it will be new beginnings with future walks along the way.
I’m writing this as a driver of one of the two sag support vehicles. The walk really was a complete success – very colorful – and the walkers’ energy was so impressive. I was continually amazed at the speed with which they walked and their consistent energy. However the Nile’s Canyon section of the walk was on the nerve-wracking side for us drivers. The road had lots of turns, the cars were moving fast, especially in our direction, (which was the opposite side of the road from the walkers), and there were many sections of the road that had no shoulder. We would pull into a turnout (all of which strangely had “no stopping any time” signs – why make a turn out if you can’t stop?), then we’d wait for the walkers to pass, and when they got out of view we would drive to the next turnout and wait. This stop and start pattern went on all day, but the morning was the more stressful Niles Canyon part. At one turnout Bill’s battery went dead, and I drove on by myself until AAA got him going again. We’re very tired tonight, but relieved that the walk went so well. We’ll all be there in the morning to give Susan our love and to see her off to prison.
– Margo Shafer
Reflection on the day by Jim Haber
Here is a photo from today’s walk. It seemed like our visit to that Methodist/Episcopalian community was something that the different congregations there came together to support. Our faith and action was a little different than theirs, but several people clearly were intrigued and grateful for the reflections our activism and anti-nuclear cause stirred in them.
The pastor Ernie walked with us for the first leg in the morning too. Angie’s chicken adobo and their homemade Egg McMuffin-type things kicked our morning off right. The presence of Margo’s granddaughters brightened everyone’s day, even after they left. Couldn’t resist the photo by the valley of peace.
During the march today, we were on well-traveled streets almost the whole way. A few residential neighborhoods were mostly devoid of pedestrians, but other, busier areas had plenty of traffic (though still not a lot of walkers). We received many peace honks even though we didn’t bring a “Honk For Peace” sign; people just knew!
We spoke with Steve Kelly and Megan Rice. At all junctures, while the occasion of these people’s trials and general legal issues is the context for raising anti-nuclear issues, the real point we are making isn’t that nuclear weapons are unsafe, it is because the very existence of nuclear weapons makes the world unsafe.
Reflection on the day by Susan Crane
It was a beautiful, sunny day as approximately 40 of us gathered for an outdoor mass near the Lockheed-Martin plant in Sunnyvale where they manufacture the Trident II D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Invoking the God of Peace while standing in the shadow of the merchants of death was not new to Fr. Louie Vitale who conducted today’s mass.
The City of Sunnyvale was kind enough to send five or six police cars to ensure a peaceful gathering. They must have misinterpreted Fr. Louie’s rap sheet in deciding how many cars to dispatch.
Eric Debode’s rousing music inspired everyone who had come to share this time together.We also remembered Sr. Anne Montgomery who, while our mass was being conducted, was being presented with the Courage of Conscience Award. Anne is quite weak, although she continues to want to hear about our activities.
After mass we walked one block to the Main Gate area of Lockheed Martin, arguably the world’s largest exporter of weapons. We vigiled there with most of the forty of us standing over the blue line.
Over trails, side roads, bike paths, and highways, we walked 11 miles to the St. Joseph the Worker Episcopal Church/Holy Child Episcopal Church/Sunnyhills United Methodist Church. We were invited to share a bountiful and delicious meal with the Filipino community there, who gave not only food but also encouragement for our work abolishing nuclear weapons. It was a wonderful coming together in community.
Jim Haber, of Nevada Desert Experience, kept us walking and amused throughout the walk with his bullhorn patter. Ed Ehmke reflected on the day saying, “The peace walk was a wonderful experience in bringing people together. It brings us together in a special way.”
I give thanks for all who came together today – those who prayed together, walked together, and who provided hospitality to us. We welcome everyone in the name of Peace to join us.
With Gratitude and In Peace,
For more information or to join the walk, see the Disarm Now Plowshares events page.
Plowshares activist Susan Crane will be accompanied by members of the Pacific Life Community as she walks to federal prison in Dublin, California. The walk will start on August 19th at nuclear manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
As a continuation of the plowshares action she undertook with four others in 2009, Susan has refused supervised release and will serve two months in prison, having already served her original fifteen month sentence for protesting the Trident nuclear-armed submarines.
All those participating in the walk join their committed efforts with those of Greg Boertje-Obed, Sr. Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and all who resist nuclear weapons.
From the Disarm Now Plowshares website:
Our friend Susan Crane has been ordered to return to the prison at Dublin, California on August 22nd. If you haven’t read the summary of Susan’s July 23rd probation hearing you can read it here. She was given 60 days of additional prison time.
The court continues to protect the very weapons that threaten all of humanity with destruction by incarcerating those who speak out against the illegality and immorality of these horrific weapons and our nation’s continuing pursuit of them. The prisons are the hammer that protects the bombs.
It is therefore appropriate that Susan has chosen to make the long walk to the Dublin prison from the Lockheed Martin facility in Sunnyvale. This is the facility that manufactures the Trident II D-5 ballistic missile that is deployed on the Trident submarines.
This Peace Walk for Nuclear Disarmament: From Lockheed to Lock-Up will be an opportunity to connect the oppression of a retributive justice system to the nuclear weapons that are the ultimate expression of oppression over the entire world.
There will be one or more support vehicles following the walkers, and lodging each night.
For more information, see the Disarm Now Plowshares events page.
the following blog was posted on the OREPA web site this morning. while the media is captivated by the security breach angle on the Transform Now Plowshares, we believe the incident is further evidence on NNSA incompetence and should be used to call into question the UPF itself.
NNSA: The only thing they can manage right is shifting blame to others
The recent breach of security at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, TN, when three civilians, including an 82 year-old woman, penetrated the inner sanctum, high security PIDAS zone and made physical contact with the nation’s storehouse for nuclear weapons grade highly enriched uranium, has drawn attention to the site. Operations have been halted in a security “stand down” while workers are re-trained on security fundamentals.
So far, most of the publicity has been about the contractors responsible for security at the site: at both Wackenhut (WSI) and BWXT-Y12, heads have rolled—the heads at the top of the contractor command chain. Workflow and lines of accountability among contractors have been re-drawn. The Secretary of Energy has personally admonished the workforce across the weapons complex.
To this point, the National Nuclear Security Administration, responsible for actually managing the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex, has managed to keep the public focus on the contractors, displaying in this area a deftness sadly lacking in most of its other activities.
NNSA is responsible
In fact, though, the buck should not stop with WSI or with BWXT, but with NNSA, the federal agency responsible for managing the operators at Y12. NNSA’s response so far has been to “temporarily reassign” one person and bring in study teams to investigate what went wrong and assess what is required to re-establish security at the site.
NNSA has also, according to a news report, asked Brigadier General Sandra Finan, principal assistant deputy administrator for military application, to conduct an assessment “of the oversight model and security organizational structure at NNSA headquarters.” NNSA has realized it may be time to check the barn doors, apparently.
It’s not just security—it’s MANAGEMENT
The July 28 security fiasco at Y12 should compel questions about NNSA’s management, and those who ask the questions should reference the GAO testimony in Congress last February which questioned NNSA’s management capacity.
The reality GAO documents is simple: NNSA, just over a decade old, has never gotten its act together. Cited by the GAO as a prime example of the lack of NNSA management capability is the Uranium Processing Facility, sister to the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility which was compromised in the July 28 incident. The UPF is slated to be built adjacent to the HEUMF, connected by above and below ground passageways.
The GAO testimony in February 2012 starts with NNSA’s failure to manage costs of major construction projects, looks at the management systems of NNSA and declares them inadequate. “NNSA does not have reliable enterprise-wide management information on program budgets and costs, which potentially increases risk to NNSA’s programs.…NNSA lacks complete data on, among other things, the condition and value of its existing infrastructure, cost estimates and completion dates for planned capital improvement projects, and critical human capital skills in its contractor workforce that are needed for its programs. As a result, NNSA does not have a sound basis for making decisions on how to most effectively manage its portfolio of projects and other programs.” NNSA management incompetence is not limited to budget forecasting; it is systemic.
NNSA managers “save” money on security
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, when the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility was being designed, voices from the outside—the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance and the Project on Government Oversight and others—pushed repeatedly for a below-grade design for the HEUMF as a security measure. Building a massive facility to house nuclear weapons materials above ground in a valley surrounded by high ridges made no sense from a security standpoint, as the Plowshares activists demonstrated so clearly on July 28. At the time, NNSA decided to build the facility above ground to save money—the number quoted was $12 million, or 2.4% of the overall $500 million cost of the facility. In hindsight, others recognize what we were saying at the time—the added cost of this security measure should be seen as an investment in security that would last the lifetime of the facility. Compare the cost savings then with the cost of the security stand down, now 14 days and counting, and NNSA’s management decision is brought into stark focus.
NNSA management decisions plague UPF design process
Since NNSA announced its decision to build the UPF in Oak Ridge in July 2011, information has trickled out that calls into question key management decisions regarding the UPF. We can set aside the biggest one—should we build a new facility or save billions by upgrading existing facilities?—because GAO says NNSA has never crunched the numbers to know what it would cost to upgrade existing facilities. NNSA, emboldened by the deal struck by President Obama to get the votes he needed for the new START Treaty, has gone whole hog, deciding to build a Supersized, Superpriced facility—and to do it in a hurry.
Let’s build a building bigger than we need, that costs billions more, too!
That question, which many would like to avoid (none more than the management at NNSA) is crucial not just for what it may tell us about July 28, 2012, but because this same NNSA is in the process of managing the design and construction of the Uranium Processing Facility at Y12 in Oak Ridge, the HEUMF’s sister. The UPF is currently oversized: in the Environmental Impact Statement, NNSA said it could meet mission requirements with a production capacity of 10 warheads/year, but the UPF is sized to have a production capacity of 80 warheads/year—that’s 700% excess capacity every year! The UPF is also overpriced: cost estimates have gone stratospheric, rising 1000% since it was first proposed six years ago, though it’s fair to say no credible final cost estimates have been presented. NNSA says they can nail it down to within 3 billion dollars ($3.5-6.5 billion). The Army Corps of Engineers ballparked it at $7.5 billion.
Let’s shortcut safety
NNSA has allowed the UPF design contractor to skip the preparation of a Preliminary Safety Design Report [PSDR]. Now, with the UPF nearing 75% design completion, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board says safety is “not integrated into the design” of the UPF, and decisions to reduce criticality safety standards are “not protective of workers or the public.” A PSDR is being prepared retroactively, demonstrating clearly the wisdom behind the original mandate to prepare a Preliminary Safety Design Report. The NNSA’s decision to proceed without a PSDR has cost money (no one knows how much) and time (no one knows how much)—the cost of designing the UPF has already reached the initial low-end total estimate for the complete construction ($600 million) of the facility. And they aren’t done designing.
Should we see if our new technology works before we commit to it?
NNSA has also allowed the design team to develop plans for the UPF that incorporate unproven technologies into the design. The GAO, in a separate, November 2010 report, was highly critical of this, noting it does not meet “best practices” set forth by the Department of Energy and pointing out that should a new technology fail to pan out, the project would be placed at risk—re-design would be expensive in both time and dollars. How many new technologies are planned for the UPF? At least ten are cited by the GAO. How many of the ten will not have met the industry standard “Readiness Level 6” before the UPF reaches its final design stages? Six of the ten.
One of the more mature technologies cited in the GAO report was microwave casting. It had already been demonstrated and was moving toward production line testing in existing facilities at Y12. We learned in April the production line test took place in February, 2012 and failed. The failure was not a little glitch requiring tweaking—the core components of the microwave casting oven were returned to the manufacturer for re-manufacture. This technology was not one of the ones GAO considered risky, but it made their concerns look prophetic. Has NNSA, exercising wise management, taken a decision to adhere to industry and DOE best practices, slowing down the design process until technologies can be proven to TRL 6? On the contrary, NNSA is cheerleading for additional funding from Congress to “accelerate construction” of the UPF.
Let’s get started, even if we’re not ready
Wait, there’s more. The GAO critique of NNSA management notes NNSA is unable to provide reality-based cost estimates for major construction projects, pointing to the UPF as an example—estimates of the total cost of this project have rocketed from $600million – $1.5billion at the outset to $6.5 – 7.5 billion at present. In defiance of their own regulations, NNSA has provided no independent cost estimate for the UPF, and none is expected until at least a year after Congress approves funding to begin construction. What’s more, in an effort to circumvent its own departmental requirement that projects over $100 million receive headquarter’s approval, NNSA has announced a scheme to artificially divide the initial construction work into four pieces, the first two of which conveniently come in under $100 million (if NNSA’s numbers can be believed), allowing construction to begin without HQ approval.
Wait, maybe it’s not big enough after all…
Were the UPF not such a huge project, with critical ramifications for US security, some of the mismanagement would simply be ludicrous. An August report in the Knoxville News-Sentinel notes that, with design of the UPF 75% complete, “There are continuing reports out the Uranium Processing Facility design camp and those familiar with the work that there are real difficulties in fitting all of the desired equipment into UPF’s prescribed space. According to one report I received, the building was at least 20-25 percent too small for the equipment planned, adding to the worries as design enters the final stages for the multi-billion-dollar project.”
In July of this year, the GAO released an audit report of NNSA’s budgeting procedures that levies three significant criticisms of the process NNSA uses to develop budgets. The GAO report points out why the processes are inadequate to fully inform NNSA management and others in government responsible for budget decisions—the Office of Management and Budget as well as Congress. The failure of NNSA to put in place systems that provide accurate cost accounting and estimates as part of a project is not simply an accounting failure, it is a management failure.
Is anybody noticing? Anybody at all?
The GAO is not the only one to notice NNSA management deficiencies. Hans Kristensen, in a recent blog post for the Federation of American Scientists, notes: “The disclosure during yesterday’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing that the cost of the B61 Life Extension Program (LEP) is significantly greater that even the most recent cost overruns calls into question the ability of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to manage the program and should call into question the B61 LEP itself.”
One recent report about the fallout from the Y12 security breach noted that NNSA is sending its principal assistant deputy administrator for military application to Y12 for a look-see. Really? NNSA has a “principal assistant deputy administrator…”? Is it any wonder, in a management structure that has those kinds of positions/titles, that no one seems to know what is going on or who is accountable?
Congress: Please ask the BIG question
Congress should ask questions about the security breach at Y12, but it should not limit its curiosity. When the stakes are so high, Congress should broaden the scope of its investigation to ask about NNSA’s management capacity. In the meantime, it is fiscally irresponsible to dump piles of money on the UPF boondoggle when NNSA can not answer the most fundamental questions about its bomb plant.
The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance works to stop nuclear weapons production at the Y – 12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
WNV, August 7, 2012
Occupy Nukes demonstrations were held in towns and cities across the United States on Monday, marking the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Approximately 140,000 civilians were killed by the bomb, code-named Little Boy, while hundreds of thousands died later of cancer, and thousands more inherited birth defects. Nothing before or since has approached the instantaneous and horrific carnage reaped by Little Boy except, perhaps, Fat Man, dropped on Nagasaki three days later.
In a joint declaration, those of us taking part in the nationwide protests said, “Nuclear weapons allow us to gauge the full extent of brutality that the 1 percent — which rules through exploitation, coercion and violence — is capable of committing.” August 6 was a day of remembrance, but also one in which the 99 percent took action “to ensure such destruction [as took place…
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Hiroshima was bombed 67 years ago today. Disarmament is the only way to say, NEVER AGAIN. Continue reading