But in addition to making their own cases, they have exposed something deeper about our system of government. We are all in their debt.
I shall listen to Jack Warshaw's "No Time for Love" (as a tribute to political prisoners) tonight, both his version and the Moving Hearts version (which was published first interestingly).
It was hard for me to put a name on what in this story resonates with me. And I think that quote really captures it. What they did was illegal, of course, but there's something about the response of the government that really exposes the paranoid insecurity of the security state. We're told that our wars on Terror and Drugs are going well and that the ends justify the means, and yet this story seriously destabilizes for me the feeling that there's much else besides security theater and draconian punishment. The government just seems to be making up the rules as it goes, and if you don't like those rules, God help you.
It's infuriating. We could be so much better as a country.
There are no ends, life is just a sequence of means. Really, whatever objectives somebody have, they'll change before anybody get even near them.
Nobody ever uses that phrase to achieve something good. No exceptions, it doesn't matter if you think this time it's different, or that this one is a honest person.
I completely disagree with this. They could reasonably have expected to be charged with trespass and vandalism but to be labelled as terrorists is ludicrous. I doubt they even expected to get as far as they did (they had to hang around and sing songs before they were finally arrested).
When someone in these communities decides to undertake a protest of this magnitude, particularly when it is against a military installation, they tend to expect the absolute worst. This means inflated charges, possibly long prison terms, and so forth. When someone decides to do it anyway, the typical approach is to try to use all of this to one's advantage, to emphasize the political prisoner aspect, and to use the trial and jail time as a soap-box from which to make one's view known. Quakers particularly have a long tradition of this but so do some Catholic groups.
No, it was very reasonable to expect exactly this to happen. They were offered pleas, but choose not to take these pleas. The US justice system always retaliates against defendants that are unwilling to take pleas. I'm not saying that it is morally right, but I am saying that the defendants knew this very well and willfully choose this over other options. As a result of this you now know about them.
Usually the maximum charges are things that match the protesters' perceptions of themselves -- trespassing, vandalism, things like that. "Terrorism" is a completely unexpected form of government retaliation.
> "Terrorism" is a completely unexpected form of government retaliation.
I don't think you can look at the way various other anti-logging protesters and the like have been treated, and the way terrorist watch lists have been assembled, or even talk with activists who were active in the 1960's and 1970's and not expect this.
They have exposed how extremist our government has become in the name of "stopping" terrorism, and have probably had much more far reaching effects in doing so than if they had just been charged with trespassing.
Many eyes are on the US government right now, and things like this inspire criticism from within and without.
Also - Smedley butler
"an act of terrorism" == "an act of the devil"
The war on terrorism is our witch-hunt.
I'm not saying what happened in the article is okay, nor am I saying things like PRISM and the PATRIOT Act are necessary sacrifices for the war on terror, but there are people in the world who do very very bad things to innocent people.
That number is trivial compared to other causes of death. Here's a sampling of some death statistics from the year 2006 :
Fireworks discharge: 8
Fall on and from stairs and steps: 1,818
Bitten or struck by dog: 32
Contact with venomous snakes and lizards: 8
Accidental drowning and submersion: 3,579
Exposure to electric transmission lines: 93
Transport accidents: 48,412
Contact with hot tap-water: 32
You might not like it, but the efforts are not trivial.
You're looking at the number of terrorism incidents AFTER efforts to mitigate them, and then concluding it's not a real issue. That's like saying that vaccinations aren't important because we haven't had a large number of Measles incidents lately.
We absolutely need better information, as citizens, to help weigh the relative success of these programs, but pretending to be sure that they aren't affecting the numbers is silly.
Still, I can't help but hypothesize that the primary reason terrorism is such a rare occurrence in America is because intelligent people living comfortable lives without mental illness (read: the vast majority of the US) very rarely want to kill en masse. Or kill at all, really. If the opposite were true, I highly doubt our current counter-terrorism efforts would be good enough to prevent disaster after disaster.
For example, we were completely unable to predict and prevent events such as the Colorado theater shootings, the Newtown school shootings, the marathon bombings, etc. And the list of foiled Islamic plots since 9/11 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_foiled_Islamic_terroris...) can almost be counted on two hands.
Our justice system promises pretty severe retribution on those who would commit acts of terrorism against US citizens. The threats of ostracism, humiliation, prison time, and execution act as deterrents, because we've proven again and again that they're basically inescapable. Consequently, most reasonable people don't even consider terrorism.
It seems to me that punishing the guilty is far more effective than spying on the innocent.
Thought experiment: imagine if half of these foiled plots had occurred. In other words, imagine if every 6 months or so we had a terrorist attack that killed a dozen people (and sometimes more).
Do you think the American public would take the HN line that it's still a very small number of total deaths, similar to the number of people dying from hot tap water? Or would they elect politicians with a very aggressive anti-privacy regime that would be "necessary" to eliminate these routine acts of terror?
At the end of the day, politicians are elected by the people, and I suspect that even the best politician would need to have a somewhat aggressive surveillance regime purely to avoid being replaced by someone who would throw caution to the wind in response to routine attacks.
I'm sure someone will respond that there are basically no real thwarted attacks, but I don't believe that. The Wikipedia article you posted reflects my sense of the frequency of attempted attacks. You can also claim that these attacks would have been thwarted without any surveillance, but that isn't my understanding of how law enforcement works in general.
What we should be pushing for is a far more open understanding, by the citizenry, of the scope of data collection and how that data can be used by law enforcement operations.
The conditions of your thought experiment are not realized but the American public still reacts as you hypothesise they would if terrorist attacks were a semi-annual occurrence.
People are fucking awful at reasoning about rare but dramatic events. This should come as a surprise to nobody.
the question here whether there are EFFECTIVE efforts. As Boston Marathon shows - no. Like in other times and other countries, anybody who wants is still able to commit such atrocious terrorist acts, despite the EXTENSIVE efforts. Governments just like EXTENSIVE efforts.
I agree that we need to know more about the efforts to understand if they're working.
I disagree that the small number of terrorist attacks is evidence that the efforts we're using to combat the attacks aren't necessary.
I think the methods used to sniff out terrorism are the same as they used to be, except now government agencies want to spy on everyone instead of just suspected terrorists.
Not to mention that every method we know about to stop terrorism since 9/11 has been reactionary; it has been a reaction to something that already happened. Not something that could happen.
I feel no safer from terror attacks now than I did before 9/11. Truth is, I never worried about them before and I don't worry about them now. It just doesn't happen that often. As stated, I'm tens of thousands of times more likely to die in a car ride on the way to a building that will be bombed than to die in the bombing itself.
If you don't believe that, let's stop enforcing traffic safety laws, stop requiring manufacturers to include safety features in their cars, and stop designing traffic intersections with safety in mind and see what happens.
But, to me, this means that the national security apparatus should be exclusively focused on reducing the probability of those most-terrible events, and instead leave the small-scale stuff to standard law enforcement. I.e., if the # of deaths is almost certainly < 200 (say), normal law enforcement procedures apply. If more than 500, then every resource can and should be brought to bear to prevent it.
And we have some very good laws to deal with that. Laws against murder for example. I think the analogy between 'terror' and 'devil' is a good one, because it captures the almost mystical 'special' evil that 'terrorist' implies. It's a childish, primitive term, with the same kind of semantic effect as the word 'baddie' in reference to an action movie.
There is people indeed who does very very bad things to innocent people, and many of them are in the USA government.
Posts like yours show how effective the governments' brainwashing is.
Lots of innocent people dies in war bombings, and they're not necessary.
Do you have any idea of how many people died at the hands
Add in "terrorism" and it becomes completely non-deterministic. The charges may as well be completely invented. There is literally no way to predict the punishment any particular action might provoke. The complete failure of the rule of law. It's just rule by fiat.
Indeed, you have broken your own rule and left your comment open for easy misinterpretation.
> Indeed, you have broken your own rule and left your comment open for easy misinterpretation.
Have I? What's easy to misinterpret?
However, I've never interpreted our community to be like that. On this forum I don't expect to hear
The discrepancy between how much jail time the people who upset the government get, and the people who commit real crimes is getting bigger
without evidence any more than I expect to hear
database server X is becoming faster than database server Y
I think you would do well to answer that question first, as your question presupposes this question has already been answered, when it fact it has not.
Asking why X is superior to Y is nothing more than an attempt to place the burden on someone else rather than yourself. You presupposed that Y is superior to X without any proof being offered.
It's akin to me asking you "When did you stop beating your wife," or other questions like that.
> Have I? What's easy to misinterpret?
So, specifically, with your statements, you make it seem like you've already proven your side, when in fact, you've done no such thing. It's disingenuous and manipulative. So, either you meant to be that way (dishonest), or you simply made a mistake of not backing up your opinion (What you are arguing against).
So, considering the later is what you are arguing against, it's very easy to assume you are simply trying to be dishonest. I'd like to think better of HN, and assume that people generally speak their opinion, and only assume they are speaking fact when they are providing sources or it's something I also know about.
> Well, I prefer the latter because it leads to a community where I can take more posts at face value and thus learn quicker.
Their is asking for clarification, and asking for clarification rudely, which is what I saw happening, as did others, I imagine. Their is value in asking for citations, no one questions that. The GP was clearly stating an opinion based on his own observations. The question in response was of little value because it was merely being antagonistic.
> I don't think it's unreasonable to encourage this kind of behaviour.
Peppering phrases with weasel words? People should just say what they think, rather than qualify every statement with qualifying statements. Case in point:
> It seems to have very little cost.
> > It seems to have very little cost.
> Citation needed.
Yes you're right. I should have said "I think it seems to have very little cost".
We are. That you are confused is clear by other remarks, and it's almost time for GoT, so I don't feel like spending the time restating what has already been said.
> I should have said...
I know what you meant. I didn't really need a citation. I've already made it clear my stance on the matter.
However, that you would make such an error and then question whether we are talking about the same issue should be troublesome for you. In a topic on this very subject, you yourself can't meet your own standards of clarity. So, if you said something different then what you meant, how can you presume to understand those that attempt to hold conversations with you?
It's far easy to assume opinion then to assume perfect English. Especially on a board where English is not always the first language, and the subtleties of "It seems to have very little cost" and "I think it seems to have very little cost" is meaningless to all but a rare few.
What is wrong is nitpicking apart the nuanced difference when it was just a casual intelligent comment made in a social setting, where reasonable expectation is to get the point rather than belabor its numerous subtle variants pursuant to wanton misinterpretation.
This is an article about their prosecution. Prosecutors push for the maximum sentence that they can possibly get, and have done so since the dawn of time. Whether or not they are _actually_ sentenced depends on the judge.
As far as I can tell, this is a hit-piece by the defense team of these three individuals to drum up public support, and hope for a reduced sentence.
One: how did that work out for Aaron Swartz? I'm asking because the same BS was said in the defence of the prosecutors actions then.
Second: Citation needed, that prosecutors have "since the dawn of time" pushed for the same kind of sentences in the same kind of cases. Merely pushing for a little more doesn't qualify -- this is an extreme blow up of the actual offence here.
Third: I'm appalled by your casual dismissal of this, as "it's how it's always been". Even with the actual sentencing depending on the judge, this over-blowing of offences is a moral and legal problem that should stop. The prosecutors should push for the sentence that is appropriate to the crime, as they perceive it, not to "the maximum sentence they can possibly get". Their job is to serve justice, not to put as many people in jail as they can.
Fourth: Who said that asking for the "maximum sentence" is a harmless tactic? Who said it doesn't impact the jury's decision and the sentence that the judge will give? If the offence is something that should get 10 years in prison, and they ask for life, then maybe this will provoke a sentence of 15 years. The same tactic also can lead to innocent people plea to guilty, instead of risking a potential 5 or 10 years in prison (where they would actually take their chance for their actual lower appropriate sentence).
No one knows how Aaron Swartz's case could have ended up. All we know is that he gave up... in the way that hurt his friends and family the most.
Prosecutors push for the maximum because we have an adversarial system in the USA. It is the prosecutor's job to push for the worst, and it is the Judge / Jury's job to decide when the prosecutor has gone too far. It is the defense team's job to argue against the prosecutor.
If you don't know what an "adversarial system" is, start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adversarial_system
It is the Judge and jury's job to give the correct sentence, not the prosecutor's job.
Computer crimes cause more damage than in the past.
The problem though is that if you go back more than a few decades, it is not clear the trend is downward so much as cyclical.
How do you know that monopoly is an old game - because the rich also go to jail.
a) broke the law, knew there would be consequences
b) did not cause harm, injure or endanger people in the process
c) used the attention to proselytize their cause, not beg for leniency
So, as a person who does not want society to stagnate, I applaud that there are people out there will to take risks for (perceived) needed change.
However, that only stands as long as there is a society to be 'risking' it against. We need laws and we need structure to be a society. And not every change truly is needed.
Since there is a compelling reason to punish people who break into government weapons facilities (we don't want every high schooler with a naive moral streak imitating it), It strikes me that, while I hold nothing against them and applaud their willingness to take the punishment, I think their does need to be a fairly harsh punishment.
Now, if despite the harsh punishment, more and more people start doing this and if the less brave of us who are in agreement with them are vocal (I said already I'm not particularly in agreement), and the less brave still at least vote, then over time laws and government can change. But in the short term, the brave revolutionaries must take the consequences.
If the whole point is the send a message to the public / make an example of, then it should be those responsible for security (and the budget for security, etc. up the line) that should be made the example of.
Exactly. I find it outrageous that the manager of that facility claimed that "their acts had an impact on nuclear deterrence" - their acts did not, his did and IMO he should rot in jail.
Don’t blame the mirror for your ugly face.
If there was naivety involved in this, I genuinely feel for these people. If this was the stand they wanted to make, than this thread is perhaps the start of the attention they wanted to the topic.
But for reals folks, if you are not prepared to spend 'years' in jail, do not break in to a government weapons facility, guarded or not. Please, for me. :-)
also, if there had been competent security, then they wouldn't have got so far and would likely be open to significantly less charges. it seems particularly unfair (to me, i guess you'll find an excuse) that the incompetent security lead directly to worse charges. so again - not separate.
i'm sorry for the vitriol above, well not really, but people who say they understand and then dream up excuses to have everything continue exactly as before make my blood boil.
[update: on the other hand, this is the second time in two days i've lost my temper, which isn't good. i am going to take a break from the internet.]
Okay, I can see the argument that the government shouldn't have just left it at misdemeanor trespassing. Felony damage to federal property, 0 to 6 years -- I can see that. Damage in excess of $1000, up to 10 years -- this is already starting to seem like a stretch to me. If it costs more than $1000 to fix the fences and paint over their peace slogans, it won't be much over $1000; and when was that statue enacted and how much inflation has there been since then? So I'm not even sure it's within the spirit of that law to charge them with that; but I'll accept it for the sake of discussion.
This brings us to the sabotage charge, and this is where it starts getting clearly absurd. The ordinary meaning of the word "sabotage" requires that one do damage that interferes with the functioning of a system. The protestors made no attempt to do anything whatsoever to interfere with the operation of the facility.
And then the terrorism charge is beyond absurd. Oh yes, I am just quaking in my boots at these three unarmed pacifists spray-painting peace slogans! I am so terrorized! Seriously -- the successful leveling of terrorism charges at these people frightens me far more than what they did. I am very afraid of what is happening to my country.
Because the "crime" these people are actually being prosecuted for, it's quite obvious, is that of embarrassing the government. And if that is worth 16 years in federal prison, we are all in big trouble.
On a related note, I would actually join the chorus of complaints about prosecutorial over-stepping. This case alone doesn't really rile me (obviously), but as another straw on top of Aaron Swartz, Weev, etc. Yeah I agree, that's a problem that needs fixing.
Well, I think that news is quite terrifying. If I lived at the US, I'd probably be terrorized.
Not by the trespassers, of course.
If there needs to be stronger laws against trespassing, then the laws should change. Except, we know that trespassing shouldn't come with a 10+ year sentence. Allowing prosecutors to arbitrarily up the charges is a failure of justice. It allows a more "legal" way for the government to act in retaliatory ways.
If the facility hadn't been completely incompetent in their security, these people would have been stopped at the first fence and not even made the news. Instead, many people are embarrassed and at least if "convicted terrorists" go to jail over this, there is some saving of face possible.
Why were they not immediately charged with such high crimes? If this was truly a major problem, why not pin them from the start?
That's like me arguing that if you'd had stronger locks, I would have only been charged with attempted breaking and entering. Going down that route opens the doors to defense arguing in many cases how if the police had arrested people on their first offense in a series, they wouldn't have committed the rest. Heck, just drive 5 miles over the speed limit and say "Hey, if the cops had stopped me, I wouldn't have done X".
> Why were they not immediately charged with such high crimes?
Because the prosecution was fine with letting them off leniently. But they wanted to make a point. Let's not forget that these people did break into and damage a facility that is a part of our national defense. Whatever else you might think, they did that. That they chose not to plead guilty of lesser crimes is their choice.
Why were they not immediately charged with such high crimes? Because the government was trying to be reasonable.
We've known for some time (and it has been controversial on many sites I frequent on both left and right) that "terrorism" has been used to label groups believed to be radical by the government (i.e. those groups which threaten the bipartisan consensus. Environmental groups get added. Groups espousing local governance get added. But it is nothing new in this country.
The words of Jack Warshaw, originally applying the experience of Americans to the Troubles in Northern Ireland are as true today as they ever have been:
They say that here we are free
To live our lives as we please
To sing and to speak and to write
So long as we do it alone
But do it together
With comrades united and strong
And they'll take you away for long rest
With walls and barbed wire for a home
No time for love if they come in the morning
No time to show tears or for fears in the morning
No time for goodbye, no time to ask why
And the sound of the sirens, the cry of the morning.
Perhaps I had always expected NSA to snoop on everything on the internet whereas this shows complete breakdown in common sense by the government.
Reminds me of the charade of security exposed by Navy SEAL Richard Marcinko in his book Rogue Warrior.
TL;DR: His team did penetration testing pretty much everywhere, with great success, embarrassing the hierarchy.
(then again - aaron swartz...)
"Turning a pacifist into a violent terrorist" is what happens when you send someone to Gitmo, break him, convince him the world has no meaning except for through violent terrorism, etc.
Prosecuting a protesting pacifist under laws meant for terrorism doesn't "turn them into" violent terrorists; I'd be perfectly comfortable around them/not afraid they would kill me, although I do think they should get some slight punishment for destroying government property and trespass (suspended), while the security at Oak Ridge should get vastly more scrutiny.
I think anyone who perused the article for more than 30 seconds sees that these people were not "converted."
The fact that they have been labelled violent terrorists for a peaceful protest is much more worrisome and impactful than throwing them in prison and watching their ideals erode away.
This is our country right now: a peaceful person can be labelled a violent terrorist. I think the title fits.
As for the sentencing, there are rules that we can apply to get an idea of what to expect. The federal sentencing guidelines have a bit of flexibility, but not much. These people probably have a criminal history level of I under the sentencing guidelines. The sabotage charge has a base offense level of 26. The property damage charges each have a base offense level of 6. I'm guessing the property damage charges would be considered a part of the sabotage charge, so we'll just stay at 26. That yields a sentence of 63-78 months. I'd be seriously surprised if any of them get more than 7 years.
The real failure is of Congress not to over-criminalize minor offenses and to distinguish what these people or people like Aaron Swartz did from people doing the far more malicious things whose actions are used to justify the laws and penalties these people have been charged with.
These folks meant to perform civil disobedience, to bring attention to their opinions, but to rot in jail for the rest of their lives (consider their age) is a travesty.
What do you think would cause a more passionate and exaggerated reaction in the IT community?
* someone stealing a few computers from a hardware store, or breaking other people's computers on purpose, OR
* someone saying computers are inherently evil and should be abandoned and banned forever, while rallying support in that direction?
(to be clear, this is an analogy to a government's expected reaction to theft, vandalism, rape etc. versus a perceived existential threat to its military and police)
Being suddenly outraged or shocked by the development in this story displays a lack of understanding of basic historical patterns. If anything, the government's desire to send such exaggerated, exemplary signals by means of giving peaceful old nuns "a lesson" points at some surprising weakness & insecurity on its part.
Of course that's what they've become. They were even convicted of it. What Big Brother defines as terrorism has very little to do with reality, of course.
The real problem is if you make the penalty for non-violent protest the same as the penalty for violent protest, you're relying solely on the perpetrators ethics and morality to not shoot the place up and burn it down. After all they get the same penalty for holding up a banner as for doing something actually violent... so why not make "more" of a statement?
What's the problem with nuclear weapons anyway? They're simply a fact of international relations that you have to deal with. Should all of NATO have just thrown all their nukes into the ocean during the cold war and let the USSR have our way with them? They've only been used in wartime twice in history, and that was to save far more lives than it took, and since then they've been an adequate deterrent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_assured_destruction
carrying written statements indicating they may be there to sabotage the weapons
I don't think their charges sound that terribly unreasonable.
It's the same thing, brah. The US government is overstepping its bounds in every way. Not only are they now monitoring every US citizen regardless of their (lack of) terrorist affiliations, we're now convicting peaceful protesters of violent terrorism. I'm surprised you don't see the correlation.
> I don't think their charges sound that terribly unreasonable
Yes, let's try murderers, rapists, and robbers as violent terrorists while we're at it. Let's try anybody who speaks out against trying non-terrorists as terrorists as terrorists. How far does it go? At what point does crime stop and terrorism begin? Apparently pretty early, if a few hippies singing songs is terrorism.
These people committed a crime and should see jail time. But they are not violent terrorists.
> and that was to save far more lives than it took
Japan was close the the end already, and we knew it. There was no real reason to nuke them other than trying out a new toy we made. Let's not pretend that nukes saved anybody.
As a signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty the US is LEGALLY OBLIGED to get rid of its nuclear arsenal.
> The U.S. Attorney’s office filed a document they called “Motion to Preclude Defendants from Introducing Evidence in Support of Certain Justification Defenses.” In this motion, the U.S. asked the court to bar the peace protestors from being allowed to put on any evidence regarding the illegality of nuclear weapons, the immorality of nuclear weapons, international law, or religious, moral or political beliefs regarding nuclear weapons, the Nuremberg principles developed after WWII, First Amendment protections, necessity or US policy regarding nuclear weapons.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, issued 8 July 1996, unanimously interprets the text of Article VI as implying that
"There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control."
What's next? Being charged with "Interference with Lawful Surveillance" if you encrypt files, use TOR?
How can we know they weren't real spies?
There is a difference between freedom of expression, and cutting a nuclear facility fence. Try to convince people about the dangers of the weapons and not cut the fences.
Cutting the fences will obviously put you in jail. Maybe the sentence was too harsh, but I have little sympathy for them.
If they were detained for speaking about the dangers of nuclear weapons, they'll not have only my sympathy but also any possible help I can give.
> Maybe the sentence was too harsh, but I have little
> sympathy for them.
There are absolutely zero places I would want more defended than a place holding nuclear weapons. Hell, one of the points used to oppose nuclear power plants is the fact that they have nuclear fuel at all, and that kind of fuel doesn't even blow up in a nuclear yield. But nuclear weapons can!
We were lucky and need to be thankful that three pacifists (including a nun of all people) and not actual terrorists were the first ones to find a major hole in the security of this facility. A facility, mind you, tending to weapons that could destroy human civilization many times over.
I expect that fence to be at least somewhat resistant to a group of pacifists cutting a whole in it. I expect it to be electrically charged.
I expect that EVERY camera is ALWAYS working and when ONE goes down that at least 20 people are notified "Fix this or you are fired". EVERY instance of failure should be notified.
The fact that cameras weren't working at a "secure nuclear facility" for 6 months is what should scare you.
If your escape strategy is to hang around being as obvious as possible, and then hoping for only a short prison sentence, you've probably made some poor career choices.
Apart from what others have said, two are retired armymen and, more importantly, one has been a catholic nun for the last 60 years.
"Describing themselves as the Transform Now Plowshares, the three came as non-violent protestors to symbolically disarm the weapons. They carried bibles, written statements, peace banners, spray paint, flower, candles, small baby bottles of blood, bread, hammers with biblical verses on them and wire cutters. Their intent was to follow the words of Isaiah 2:4: “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.”
And was like, uhm, ok they may not be terrorists but they are nut job religious people. I mean baby bottles full of blood what the hell?
And yes it is sort of terrorism to go to a nuclear power plant of a country and say dismantle all your weapons with something/anything that may look threatening!
But regardless I don't think terrorism should stick in the court cases as much. They should get a bit more of a sentence than normal protest and maybe include some invasion of private property but terrorism seems a bit out of touch.
They broke into and vandalized a nuclear weapons facility. If you mess with the bull, you're gonna get the horns.
I understand that you can't exactly just press a button to make a nuclear bomb go of (although if the PAL is still set to its cold war default of 00000000 that might be just that simple) but on of the US fears is how close Iran is to be able to make enriched uranium, best case (or worst case, for us) estimates are still years away but if they can simply waltz into a weapons storage facility and walk away with it, then they could get it at any time and what is possibly worse is that they could finish the rest of the components (which wouldn't worry the US too much, as they still wouldn't have the uranium) and then get the uranium in a few days (and if the storage facilities aren't tracking their inventory closely enough, the first indication of the nukes being stole may be when the Iranians announce that they have them).
And if Iran doesn't want nuclear bombs, then we know that North Korea wants them.
How long until robbing a bank is terrorism? It could presumably hinder national defense, so it must be terrorism. How about killing someone? Is that terrorism? Smoking marijuana? Jaywalking?
How far will we go, allowing ourselves to say "that person deserves it," before we're next on the list? If pacifists trespassing is terrorism, I'd say anyone living in the US should be pretty fucking worried right about now.
By clearly being adversarial, petty, and unjust, we are in effect giving permission/encouragement/polarization to elements which would wish us harm. If we did this to aged protestors, anybody who is considering something similarly mild may as well try and up the ante--after all, they can only jail you for life once.
"In the early morning hours of Saturday, July 28, 2012, long-time peace activists Sr. Megan Rice, 82, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Michael Walli, 63, cut through the chain link fence surrounding the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapons production facility and trespassed onto the property."
Stop right there. You did what? And you didn't expect what to happen? Really? Geeze people.
You seem to mistake exercising your first ammendment with breaking into the property of a government nuclear weapons facility. Contrary to popular belief, you can exercise your first ammendment without running afoul of the law.
Don't be surprised that they do throw the book at you, if you give them the means to do so.
You can stop right there, because that's the whole point. If the government had charged them with trespassing and fined them each $1000 or put them in jail for two weeks (and then taken the opportunity to have a good hard look at the security of their facility), nobody would be complaining about anything. This is about proportionality.
> Don't be surprised that they do throw the book at you, if you give them the means to do so.
The idea is that they should not have the means to do so. "Making the government look stupid" is not a felony. Trespassing is not a felony. "Here's the defendant, find me the crime" is a miscarriage of justice. A law that allows them to do that to anyone is a broken law that demands to be fixed. And yes, there are a lot of them, and they all need to be fixed.
The penalty, must deter future attempts by other people. $1000 and a couple weeks of jail is not going to deter other similar protesters.
If the known penalty for doing this (even with fully operational security) is light, then that activity isn't really deterred.
The whole idea of civil disobedience is to get yourself put on trial for something you're willing to do the time for. "They aren't being deterred, the prison sentence has to be increased" is obviously a flawed response to that unless your goal is to suppress dissent without regard to how draconian and disproportionate you have to be in order to do it.
2. insisting on physical security (i.e. no trespassing) at a nuclear processing facility is not in conflict with the idea of peaceful assembly and political protests
Obviously nuclear weapons facilities are very important. Obviously three hippies aged 57, 63, and 82 shouldn't be able to break in so far as to spray paint a building holding nuclear weapons.
> The DOE agent admitted the three carried a letter which stated, “We come to the Y-12 facility because our very humanity rejects the designs of nuclearism, empire and war. Our faith in love and nonviolence encourages us to believe that our activity here is necessary; that we come to invite transformation, undo the past and present work of Y-12; disarm and end any further efforts to increase the Y-12 capacity for an economy and social structure based on war-making and empire-building.”
The ultimate reason for carrying such a letter would be to explain their actions in the event they could not explain their actions themselves. For example, had they been shot by guards.
And later they said:
> "For this we give our lives — for the truth about the terrible existence of these weapons."
Sounds like they are very much aware that their actions might have ended in their death, and accepting of it. They are 82, 57, and 63 years old.
Edit: I somehow missed that they were convicted. Regardless of the semantics of the law I am quite sure they do not support violence.
"...convicted of violent crimes of terrorism. Now in jail awaiting sentencing for their acts at an Oak Ridge, ..."
They have been convicted, not just charged. The stronger title is justified.
Quote, last sentence :
"In ten months, an 82 year old nun and two pacifists had been successfully transformed by the U.S. government from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism."
The story is equally chilling regardless of how legitimate the protesters' concerns were.