WMD Found in North Dakota: Disarmament Begins

Plowshares Action in North Dakota, Friends of Omaha peace movement arrested for act of conscience against WMD.

WMD Found in North Dakota: Disarmament BeginsA Roman Catholic Priest and two Veterans went to a Minuteman III silo this morning and began to disarm the nuclear weapon using hammers. Reverend Carl Kabat, OMI, Gregory Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli entered the E-9 missile silo on the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation in North Dakota about 75 miles southwest of Minot. Using a sledgehammer and household hammers, they disabled the lock on the personnel entry hatch that provides access to the warhead and they hammered on the silo lid that covers the 300 kiloton nuclear warhead that is targeted and ready to launch. The activists painted DISARM on the face of the 110-ton hardened silo cover and the peace activists poured their blood on the missile lid.

They were detained and arrested by McLean County Sheriffs and are being held in the McLean County jail in Washburn, North Dakota. The three have been charged with county Criminal Trespass and Criminal Mischief.

Speaking from jail, Greg Boertje-Obed, from Duluth, Minnesota, explained, “Carl Kabat, OMI from St. Louis, Missouri added, “We now prepare for the nuclear bombing of Iran with the reasoning that only weapons of mass destruction can stop weapons of mass destruction. We bombed and strafed in Iraq based on lies that the Iraqi’s possessed nuclear weapons. We have the weapons here.”

The Minuteman III missile is targeted and on alert for launch. The missile is armed with a warhead that carries 27 times the heat, blast and radiation of the bomb dropped by the U.S. on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.

The activists say that they are following the nonviolent Jesus, that they are taught by their faith to love their enemies, and that the money used for these weapons of mass destruction is a theft from the poor and should be used for food, housing, medical care and rebuilding the infrastructure of our country.

ATTACHED: Statement, Fact Sheet and Biographies. For press updates, more information and images, go to www.jonahhouse.org

STATEMENT
Nuclear Weapon Here Plowshares

Please pardon the fracture of the good order. When we were children we thought as children and spoke as children. But now we are adults and there comes a time when we must speak out and say that the good order is not so good, and never really was. We know that throughout history there have been innumerable war crimes. Two of the most terrible war crimes occurred on August 6th and 9th, 1945. On August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, killing more than 100,000 people (including U.S. prisoners of war). Three days later the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Nagasaki, Japan, killing more than 50,000 people. Use of these weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations were abominable crimes against humanity.

The U.S. has never repented of these atrocities. On the contrary, the U.S. has deepened and expanded its commitment to nuclear weapons. The U.S. built a large nuclear industrial complex which has caused the deaths of many workers and has resulted in killing many more people by nuclear testing. Our country built thousands of nuclear weapons and has dispersed weapons-grade uranium to 43 nations. Each Minuteman III missile carries a bomb that is 27 times more powerful than those dropped on the Japanese people. The building of these weapons signifies that our hearts have assented to mass murder. Currently the U.S. is seeking to research a new class of smaller nuclear weapons demonstrating its desire to find new uses for weapons of mass destruction.

The U.S. is rushing down the path that leads to more death and destruction, ultimately bringing this nation and other nations to ruin. Therefore we issue a call for national repentance. We make an urgent appeal to the people of the U.S. to change course – to place our security in God and not in weapons of mass destruction. We have chosen to start the process of transformation and disarmament by hammering on and pouring our blood on components of the Minuteman III nuclear missile system. We believe that the concrete that goes into making missile silos would be better used for building homes. We know that total disarmament of our first strike system of nuclear weapons will require national repentance with a change in the hearts and minds of the people of the U.S. The pouring of our blood is meant to make visible the bloodshed resulting from the production, testing, and use of nuclear weapons. We believe the message in the Bible that after Cain killed his brother Abel that Abel’s blood “cried out from the ground.” We hear our sisters’ and brothers’ blood crying out from the ground. We believe that God hears these cries and grieves deeply over every person whose blood is shed.

We call ourselves the “Weapon of Mass Destruction Here Plowshares” to highlight that our nation has thousands of horrific weapons of mass destruction. U.S. leaders speak about the dangers of other nations acquiring nuclear weapons, but they fail to act in accordance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which commits the U.S. to take steps to disarm its weapons of mass destruction. We act in order to bring attention to people’s responsibility for disarming weapons of state terrorism. We can begin the process of exposing U.S. weapons of mass destruction, naming them as abominations that cause desolation, and transforming them to objects that promote life.

We dress as clowns to show that humor and laughter are key elements in the struggle to transform the structures of destruction and death. Saint Paul said that we are “fools for God’s sake,” and we say that we are “fools for God and humanity.” Clowns as court jesters were sometimes the only ones able to survive after speaking truth to authorities in power.

Is there hope for the world? Yes – if people begin to live the truth now. We believe that Jesus reveals who God is, and that God is a God of love and nonviolence, teaching us to love all people, even our enemies. Furthermore, the prophets Isaiah and Micah prophesy that there will come a time when people will learn the ways of God and “They shall beat their swords into plowshares,and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

By our plowshares/pruning hooks action we have tried to make visible God’s will for disarmament and peacemaking. By living this truth we hope to shorten this murderous age – closing the gap between the future hope for universal peace and our present reality of endless violence and war-making. We begin to bring hope into the present moment.

Carl Kabat, OMI
Greg Boertje
Michael Walli

June 20, 2006

WMD Here Plowshares

Greg Boertje-Obed—51; from Duluth, Minnesota; member of Loaves and Fishes Catholic Worker and Veterans for Peace; former U.S. Army officer; participant in previous plowshares actions which disarmed Trident II nuclear missile tubes in Rhode Island, combat helicopters and nuclear capable war planes in Pennsylvania, and a Tomahawk nuclear-capable missile launcher and missile tubes in Virginia; married to Michele Naar-Obed; father of Rachel Obed,-11 years old.
“I believe Jesus led us to do this witness based on his teachings of intervening for the sake of the poor. These weapons are killing us and the poor today. I believe this plowshares action is a natural extension of our Catholic Worker mission which is hospitality, providing for the needs of the poor, and defending the poor.”

Carl Kabat, OMI—72; from St. Louis, Missouri; 47 years a Roman Catholic priest; worked as a missionary in the Philippines and Brazil; participated in the first plowshares/pruning hooks action in 1980 and the first Silo Pruning Hooks action in 1984 and other plowshares actions; served about 16 years in jails and prisons.
“We are fools and clowns for God and humanity’s sake. Over 2,500 American soldiers have died because of nuclear weapons in the past several years in Iraq. … I remember Eisenhower who said that every weapon that is made is a theft from the poor…. The only condemnation of Vatican II was that nuclear weapons are a crime against humanity and are to be condemned unreservedly.” Carl Kabat, OMI

Michael R. Walli—57; Vietnam veteran; Roman Catholic; currently residing in Duluth, Minnesota.
“I’ve been influenced by the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, and the teachings of the late Pope John Paul II to oppose the culture of death, and this plowshares action seems to me to be a suitable way of acting on these teachings.” Michael Walli.

MINUTEMAN III – Fact Sheet

A Minuteman III is a first strike Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) nuclear weapon. The current U.S. ICBM force consists of 500 Minuteman III’s located in three missile fields: F.E. Warren Air Force Base with 150 missiles covering the corner of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming; Malmstrom AFB in Montana with 200 ICBMs; and Minot AFB in North Dakota with 150 missiles. These warheads can be launched from a Minuteman III missile silo within minutes and reach any destination within 35 minutes. A nuclear bomb launched from a Minuteman silo produces uncontrollable radiation, massive heat and a blast capable of vaporizing and leveling everything within a 50-mile radius. Outside the 50 square miles – extending into hundreds of miles – the blast, wide-spread heat, firestorms and neutron and gamma rays are intended to kill, severely wound and poison every living thing and causing long term damage to the environment. A Minuteman warhead has the potential to destroy the genetic code of the human race. Current warheads carry 27 times more power than the U.S. nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima August 6, 1945.

The Minuteman III is currently undergoing upgrades to extend its 2020 service limit. Minuteman III is the sole ICBM deployed by the United States. Each Mark 12 or Mark 12-A warhead in a Minuteman III silo can travel more than 6,000 miles at 15,000 miles per hour.

At one point the U.S. had 1,000 land-based ICBMs at a cost to taxpayers of $7 million each. Minuteman IIIs are in transition from having 3 independently targeted warheads to carrying one.

The Minuteman missiles are dispersed in hardened silos and connected to an underground launch control center through a system of hardened cables. Launch crews, consisting of two officers, perform around-the-clock alert in the launch control center. A variety of communication systems provide the National Command Authorities with virtually instantaneous direct contact with each launch crew. Should command capability be lost between the launch control center and remote missile launch facilities, an airborne launch control center dubbed “looking glass” automatically assumes command and control of the missiles.

The Minuteman III system is undergoing upgrades to: replace an aging guidance system; increase payloads; remanufacture the solid-fuel rocket motors; replace standby power system; repair launch facilities; improve communication; enhance accuracy; and improve survivability in a nuclear war.

In January 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, issued by the Bush administration, threatens the use of nuclear weapons to “deter” any attack by chemical or biological as well as nuclear weapons by any non-nuclear state or entity within or sponsored by “the axis of evil.” We now prepare for nuclear bombing of Iran with the reasoning that only weapons of mass destruction can stop weapons of mass destruction.

By any standard of proof, the threat or use of the Minuteman III constitutes crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity or genocide.

Bush Supporters and Detractors Gathered at Juan Diego Center

A crowd turned out at 31st and Q as President Bush traveled from the Juan Diego Center to Metro Community College.

Bush left the Catholic Charities’ Juan Diego Center, 5211 S. 31st St., at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The tour of the Center was followed by a speech on immigration reform at Metro Community College.

A crowd of 30 to 40 people gathered along Q Street, west of the Juan Diego Center. Signs in the crowd indicated that most were Bush detractors. Signs ranged from “I (heart) you Mr. President, but you are wrong. Secure Our Borders!” to “Impeach Bush and Cheney” and “Drop Bush, Not Bombs.” Three people held a large sign that read “We (heart) W!” They were largely outnumbered by people in blue “Nebraskans for Peace” shirts. Other signs displayed messages meant not for the President, but for other demonstrators, such as “Protest today, deported tomorrow” and “Illegals go home.”

The crowd remained quiet, and there was not much interaction among the different groups. The crowd appeared mostly white with a wide rage of ages, but mostly middle-aged. Most of the signs were in English. The president’s motorcade turned east as it exited the Juan Diego Center – the crowd was a half block away from the cars. There were a few cheers and a few boos, and the crowd dispersed after the motorcade passed.

The Omaha media had a minimal presence. Channel 7 had a reporter with a camera. Police were present on foot, on horseback and in patrol cars. Demonstrators and passers-by were allowed access only on the sidewalk on Q street west of the Juan Diego Center. Q Street east of 31st Street was closed to pedestrian and auto traffic.

The immigration ‘debate’ will continue in Omaha at an anti-illegal immigration rally later this month.

Small, enthusiastic turnout to ‘welcome’ President Bush

Approximately thirty people gathered at the intersection of 10th and Cuming between 5 and 7pm Tuesday, June 6, 2006. President Bush drove along Abbott Drive into Omaha from the Eppley Airfield shortly before 7pm. He will speak a the Juan Diego center in South Omaha tomorrow, regarding immigration reform.

The crowd waved and held signs up to passing traffic and police. Signs included “Drop Bush, Not Bombs” “No Person can be ‘illegal’” “Nadie puede ser illegal” and an american flag with a peace sign in place of stars, among others. The gathering was put together on short notice by the UNO Student Democrats. The crowd appeared to be mostly white, with a wide rage of ages, but mostly college-age. Most of the signs were in English.

People milled about and chatted as they waited for the motorcade. Others lined Cuming street, waving to cars and cheering as they honked. Traffic moved fast, but the stoplight at 10th street allowed some motorists to have a closer look. Reaction from drivers ranged from peace signs and smiles to scowls and looks of confusion.

The Omaha media had a large presence – reporters from Channel 3 and the Associated Press were present with, among others. A reporter from Channel 7 turned up just as the crowd was leaving.

Police presence was visible but not overbearing. 10th street was closed at noon, and nearby parking lots were closed as well. Two mounted officers were present on the opposite side of Cuming; they crossed the street to stand between the rally and the road as the motorcade approached. Officers on foot and in patrol cars were present in small numbers; more officers arrived as the motorcade approached.

The crowd remained on the brick corner of 10th and Cuming. The sidewalks along Cuming and along 10th street are owned by the city, but are considered the private property of the Qwest center, according to one of the event organizers.

As the motorcade drove past, one participant began call and response chants that were enthusiastically picked up by the rest of the crowd. Energy picked up as the motorcycles and black automobiles sped past along Cuming street. The crowd originally expected the motorcade to turn at 10th and Cuming; instead it continued along Cuming, driving past the group, but on the other side of the street.

President Bush will speak at the Catholic Charities’ Juan Diego Center, 5211 S. 31st St., at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.