How is this for irony: 84-year-old Megan Rice, a nun, is sentenced to three years in a federal prison for having the courage to break into a nuclear weapons facility in Tennessee and deface a tank holding bomb grade uranium while the U.S. is trying hard to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. The other two activists caught with her were given over four years.
Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Greg Boertje-Obed, the youngest of the trio at 58, were sentenced by a federal court under the Sabotage Act for vandalizing national defense premises which carries up to 20 years prison time. Sister Rice requested life but the judge refused, citing the nun’s crimes were ‘minimal’ compared to the other two, who both received longer sentences.
The actual crime? In July of 2012 the trio cut through a wire fence, entered the facilities and painted peace slogans on the walls and uranium tanks. When confronted by a guard, they started singing and offered him food. That they succeeded in breaking into the facility embarrassed the government and forced the plant to shut down to evaluate its security measures.
The rational thought over nuclear weapons would seem to be, if they existed, far better for them to be in the hands of a country like the U.S., whose government is far less likely to push or threaten to push the Big Red Button than another country, say for instance, Iran. That being said, the fact that a facility specifically designed to manufacture nuclear weapons and already stores the components to do so exists sure should scare the hell out of people, no matter who is in control of them.
Point of fact: America is the only country to have actually used nuclear weapons not only once, but twice. The physical and emotional carnage wrought by that use resonates to this day. Still, given that, it’s a general country-wide consensus that the U.S. nuclear arsenal, given the current global political climate, is far less of a threat than that very same arsenal would be in the hands of a country like North Korea, whose government has been called ‘belligerent.’
What Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed sought to do was point out security flaws at the nuclear weapons facility, that, and perhaps that there shouldn’t be any nuclear weapons at all anywhere. Rice has the distinct experience of being around as a young adult when the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She witnessed history in the making and the destructiveness splitting an atom and using it as a weapon could cause.
The 3 activists should be commended for their courage for pointing out what might be termed as ‘lax security’ at a facility that should be running far stricter security protocols. A wire fence? How about a concrete one, lead-lined, at least a meter thick and 10 meters high? Expensive, yes, but given the facility’s nature, well worth the cost. Put Rice, Walli, and Boertje-Obed on the government payroll as consultants instead of burning through tax dollars incarcerating them for having the courage to point out lax security at an extremely dangerous facility.
Editorial By Lee Birdine