Former U.S. Attorney supports actions of Y-12 protesters

Former U.S. Attorney supports actions of Y-12 protesters

Posted:
Ramsey Clark, 85, testified on behalf of three Plowshares protesters who are facing multiple felony counts, including a sabotage charge. Ramsey Clark, 85, testified on behalf of three Plowshares protesters who are facing multiple felony counts, including a sabotage charge.
Tuesday's hearing was a way for the judge to hear potential testimony before the trial begins. Tuesday's hearing was a way for the judge to hear potential testimony before the trial begins.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The three anti-nuclear weapons protestors accused of breaking into Y-12 National Security Complex had another day in federal court.

Tuesday's hearing was a way for the judge to hear potential testimony before the trial begins.

Michael Walli, 64, Sister Megan Rice, 82, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, were arrested in July 2012 after cutting through security fencing, splashing human blood and spray-painting messages on the exterior of the plant's storage center for bomb-grade uranium.

Attorneys for the three brought in Ramsey Clark, who served as a U.S. attorney general from 1967-69, to testify at Tuesday's motions hearing.

Clark, 85, testified on behalf of three Plowshares protesters who are facing multiple felony counts, including a sabotage charge.

Clark is an international activist, involved in cases dealing with nuclear policy. He believes the government doesn't have a case against the protesters.

"To me, it's an abuse of discretion and not necessary," said Clark. 

During an hour-and-a-half of questioning by government and defense attorneys, Clark says the Y-12 breach was justified, as a way to preserve society from destruction by nuclear weapons.

Clark even said the nuclear weapons work at Y-12 is unlawful, and in his opinion, Y-12 workers are involved in a "criminal enterprise."  

"If there is a case that should have been brought, it's against the personal at the facility," said Clark.

U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar asked Clark whether civil disobedience can be honorable and lead to change, but still be illegal under federal law.

"At the end of the day, just because civil disobedience is justified, doesn't make it legal," said Thapar. 

The hearing was the final opportunity for defense attorneys to present evidence in an effort to get approval to use a "justification" defense in the case.

The defense has argued that the protesters actions were done to prevent the imminent harm of nuclear weapons.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley already ruled in January that the storage of nuclear weapons at Y-12 does not violate international law.

Despite this, General Ramsey says the United States is in clear violation of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT.

"It's a very important treaty, and its implementation is far more important than snipping a few wires on a fence," said Clark.

Judge Thapar is expected to release an opinion within the next week on issues pertaining to Tuesday's motion hearing.

Civil rights sit-in participant Robert Booker, a second witness who had been expected to testify at Tuesday's hearing, was not available.

Other proposed witnesses include Doctor Ira Helfand, retired Col. Mary Annette Wright, and retired U.S. Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton.

The trial is set for May 7.  Jury selection will take place the day before.  

If convicted, the three protesters face more than 20 years in prison.

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.