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Rick Moran


May 11, 2013 - 4:05 pm

I don’t care if you’re right, left, or a squish, this is a travesty.

Last year, 10 elderly peace activists cut through a chain link fence surrounding the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee. They didn’t attempt to steal or destroy any nuclear materials. They did what any well meaning, peaceful anti-war activist would do; they hung signs, sang songs, and hammered off small pieces of the ultra-thick concrete wall surrounding the facility.

In the predawn hours of July 28, 2012, Rice, Boertje-Obed and Walli walked under the cover of darkness through the woods and up a hillside, approaching a chain-link fence surrounding the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Armed with flashlights and a bolt cutter, they cut their way through the fence, fully expecting to be arrested on the spot.

Instead, they walked nearly a mile, cutting through four fences in all, breaching what was supposed to be the most tightly secured uranium processing and storage facility in the country.

“When we got to the very high security fence where there’s a lethal force authorized … I thought, maybe we should turn around,” Boertje-Obed told CNN’s David Mattingly.

But they didn’t. Hours later, the three activists were finally confronted by a guard after hoisting banners, spray-painting messages and splattering human blood on a building that houses highly enriched uranium.

They have said they wanted call attention to the dangers of nuclear weapons, but their actions triggered a very different concern:

If three older peaceniks can easily trespass onto what was once considered the “Fort Knox” for highly enriched uranium, just how safe are the nation’s nuclear weapons material from terrorists?

They fully expected to be arrested and prosecuted for their crime. That’s the point of civil disobedience and these aging lefties didn’t try to avoid responsibility for breaking the law. Three of the activists — including an 83-year old nun — were convicted of two felonies relating to their activities. They could each receive 30 years in prison.

The judge set a September sentencing date — and then refused to release them pending sentencing because he believed it would be too “lenient.”


Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, who were convicted Wednesday of two felony charges related to the July 28, 2012 break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, are currently jailed in Knox County.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Theodore and defense attorneys Chris Irwin, William Quigley and Francis Lloyd, as well as Bobby Hutson, the “eblow counsel” for Boertje-Obed (who is representing himself).

As with the case at this week’s trial, today’s courtroom was crowded with supporters of the three peace activists, known collectively as the Transform Now Plowshares.

Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed were in the courtroom, wearing tan prison jumpsuits with “Federal Prisoner” on the back. Their hands and legs were chained to restrict their movements, but they smiled and gestured to their friends, supporters and family members in the gallery.

Thapar also has yet to rule on a motion filed earlier by defense attorneys, seeking to have the most serious charge (now conviction) dismissed. The “Rule 29″ motion was filed after the federal prosecutors completed their case, and the defense argued that the government failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove the Y-12 protesters had “intent” to interfere with, obstruct or disrupt the national defense when they broke into the Oak Ridge plant. During the trial, Y-12 officials testified that the plant was shut down for 15 days following last summer’s break-in.

Y-12′s federal manager, Steve Erhart, also testified that an incoming truck shipment of nuclear weapons parts or related materials had to be put on hold because of security concerns created by the protesters’ break-in.

Of course, the alarm bells set off in Washington as a result of 10 scruffy leftists penetrating the security at Y-12 set in motion a series of hearings on Capitol Hill as well as independent security reviews at all US nuclear sites. Presumably, such a shocking lapse in security can’t happen again.

But what to do with an 83-year old nun and her equally befuddled friends? You might expect the punishment to fit the crime and 30 years in the slammer for showing up the US army seems a bit out of whack. What kind of threat are these people to national security? Their whole lives are about peaceful activism. You can disagree with what they are advocating but still admire their dedication to principles and their perception of what their faith tells them.

The protestors got as far as they did because of lax security at the facility, not because they were stealthily trying to wreak havoc or endanger the public. If they had been arrested while cutting through the first fence — as they should have been if the facility had an adequate security plan –they would have been charged with trespassing and given a stiff fine and a stern talking to by the judge. Instead, they had the dumb luck of making it all the way to a storage facility for weapons grade nuclear material. Laurel and Hardy would have had a hard time coming up with a more unlikely set of circumstances.

Leniency is exactly what these people should expect. And the judge who is keeping them in jail needs to get a grip on reality.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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Top Rated Comments   
WTH is wrong with Moran? These people are being SENTENCED because they were found guilty of a FELONY. And he wants to let them out until when? THEY ARE GUILTY OF A CRIME.

Damn, Moran, why don't you just show a little honesty and admit you are a bleating heart liberal?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (16)
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If their age, the utility of their revealing failures in security, and the relative triviality of the monetary value of the damage--if these merit leniency, then they should stay imprisoned so their short time is sooner served. If the fact they were screwing around with respect to bomb grade material means they get the book thrown at them, they should not again see the light of day.

In most cases the mewling of the only accidentally and infrequently correct Moran should be generally ignored.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, well gee, she was a nun and was just doing what she thought her religion would want her to do. Of course we should release her and her friends. Just like the Boston bomber was a Muslim and was just doing what he thought his religion would want him to do. Let's just release all of them. Ahh, she is 83 years old, probably senile and didn't know she was actually doing something wrong. Gee, he was only 20 something and was just following his youthful enthusiasm, he didn't really think he was doing anything wrong. At what age does the law start or end applying? These idiots were caught, found guilty and sentenced, why should they be let go?
Now, they cut their way through four security fences, walked right up to a high security building, started defacing and knocking chips off the side of the building. How long were they on the property? What damage could they have done if they were actually serious about it? What if they had been actual terrorists with explosives? Where was the security while all this was going on? Did one of the guards step outside to grab a smoke and happen to see them? I think you said the Army was in charge of the security. If so, the duty watch officer should be court martialled along with the Commanding Officer for letting them get that slack.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

This being Mothers' Day, perhaps an almost-fond reminiscence is in order. Back in the joy of my youth, my Mom had an expression that would surface (and re-surface) just after I had succeeded in antagonizing my Big Sister to the point of retaliation which, back in those pre-domestic violence days, could include assault, battery, and/or significant property damage. When I would whine my way into my mother's attention, she would pronounce thusly, "Well sonny jim, it sounds like you got more than you thought you had bargained for." And with that, the realization that the maternal compassion tap was not to be opened in my favor would slowly descend over me followed by a good bit of the grumpy.

I've lived in the San Francisco Bay area since the last mid-eighties. One of the social trends that I have become aware of is what I now refer to as the Reverse Jim Crow (RJC). Unlike the original which deprived a segment of our population of their civil rights, the RJC, in fact, grants new, extra-legal rights and permissions to those of a certain progressive political bent. Their civic disruptions are reclassified as political demonstrations. Any attendant property damage is routinely done by well meaning youthful thralls. Police forces are restrained by rules of disengagement. Few are controlled, fewer still detained, almost none are arrested, and even those cited rarely incur any civic punishment other than the process. Their callous disregard for the rights of non-fellow-traveling citizens to travel freely, or, worse yet, pursue their own commerce is part of their inherent joy.

Lastly, I must confess that the idea of a bunch of lefty/commie/progressives trying to turn on the false compassion tap by hiding behind the habit of a 83-year old Catholic religious, because, as we all know, those lefty/commie/progressives do so love, honor, and respect the Catholic Church and all it stands for, will have me laughing up my sleeve throughout the live long day.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
if the punishment isn't worse than the crime, it isn't punishment it is a business transaction. clearly they were not deterred by what they thought would be the punishment. guess what, the perpetrator does not set the punishment.

civil disobedience has a price. if you aren't willing to pay, don't play
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"cut through a chain link fence"
"cutting through four fences in all"
"hammered off small pieces of the ultra-thick concrete wall surrounding the facility."

These things are not minor infractions. The incompetence of the security at the facility is a non-issue for these "peaceful anti-war activist". The crime they committed was a felony and they will get what they have coming to them.

The security lapse(s) are the responsibility of those in control of the facility and should be dealt with by them in a way that makes news for it's harshness.

The 2 issues here should not be tied together as Moran has done. After all if I walked past a bank and saw the safe was open and decided that I was going to break the window, go in, and get a little cash, I'd be guilty of bank robbery, wouldn't I. The bank employee would in all likelihood be fired but not prosecuted as an accessory. Their lack of security is no reason to be lenient.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"What kind of threat are these people to national security?"

Well, I don't know, but compared to how I spend my time, they sound like they're nuts, so who knows? And what does being a nun or 83 have to do with anything?

Let 'em sit in jail. Anyone watching will be encouraged to watch TV instead of acting like morons.

As for getting a grip on reality, people who think they can waltz into such a place and get high-fives now have a new view of reality, and one they deserve.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
At 83 years old ya oughtta have better sense. The defense that "we were trying to get arrested, but 'they' should have arrested us before we committed a felony" is NO defense. How about stopping YOURSELF before you commit a felony! Do the crime, do the time and STHU! Moran your bleeding heart is showing.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Angling for a job at the Huffington Post, eh?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You may have pegged it, Disco. Rick Moran, either an overly subtle satirist of the Left or a Kos-kid in a very silly and obvious disguise.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Read the ruling. Due to the seriousness of the crime, it seems release was proscribed by law.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Get real, Moran!

These people knew they were committing a crime, and they wanted to be arrested for it, just to prove how dedicated they are to their convictions. OK, so they got what they wanted. What difference does it make if they start their lengthy jail term immediately after being convicted, or in a few weeks or a month?

The judge refusing to be lenient with them, just allows them to feel more righteous about their irresponsible acts. I hope they enjoy their stay in jail, but I certainly don't feel sorry for them, especially not if they were counting on only getting a "slap on the wrist". If they really are harmless peaceniks, they'll probably be paroled in a couple of years.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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