Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson: Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II
Amid all the talk of other countries possessing weapons of massdestruction, 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
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 massdestruction such as the Minuteman III can never be legally threatened or used within the intransgressible rules and principles of humanitarian law.
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 bysystematic 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