The exposure of a deeply humiliating security failure at a nuclear facility in Tennessee resulted in the conviction of and 83 year old nun, and two others for sabotaging the plant and a second charge of damaging federal property.
The incident happened last July, and took place at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. They spent at least two hours in the complex after cutting through security fences. They proceeded to hang banners, string crime-scene tape and hammered off a small chunk of the fortress-like Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, or HEUMF, inside the most secure part of complex.
Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, told the court they had no remorse for their actions. Their defense attorneys claimed that they had performed a valuable service to the security of the facility.
“The shortcomings in security at one of the most dangerous places on the planet have embarrassed a lot of people,” said Francis Lloyd, who represented Sister Megan Rice of Washington, D.C. “You’re looking at three scapegoats behind me.”
It’s important to note that this may be the country’s most important nuclear facility. It is the plant that has had a hand in making, maintaining or dismantling parts of every nuclear weapon in the country’s arsenal.
While there were hearings in Washington today regarding the tragedy in Benghazi, the question arises; is the United States government neglecting security within our own borders? Has Homeland Security become an agency that involves itself only with terrorism? If an 83 year old woman, along with two other civilians, can break into what should be the most secure nuclear resource in the country, how easy would it be for trained professionals?
Neile Miller, acting administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, told a Senate subcommittee that officials have taken “decisive action” since the July 28 intrusion at the Y-12, including a new management team and a new defense security chief to oversee all of the agency’s sites.
“The severity of the failure of leadership at Y-12 has demanded swift, strong and decisive action by the department,” she said. “Since the Y-12 incursion, major actions have taken place to improve security immediately, and for the long term.”
Sister Rice said her only misgiving was that she had waited so long to stage a protest. “My regret was I waited 70 years,” she said. “It is manufacturing that which can only cause death.”
She was asked why she hadn’t felt obligated to inform the Catholic bishop in her area of her intentions. Rice responded: “I’ve been guilty of many discourtesies in my life.”
It took only 2 and ½ hours for the jury to convict the three trespassers.
Prosecutor Jeff Theodore told the court that they were in an area where guards were allowed to use lethal force. “They’re lucky, and thank goodness they’re alive, because they went into the lethal zone,” he said.
The three sprayed baby bottles full of blood on the exterior of the facility. Boertje-Obed explained their reasoning. “The reason for the baby bottles was to represent that the blood of children is spilled by these weapons,” he said.
I have heard political posturizing over many issues. I have questions as to why the American public hasn’t heard about this serious incident until the trial for these three individuals was completed.
Columnist-The Guardian Express