Our Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We send warm greetings and many thanks to all who actively engage in
the transformation of weapons of mass destruction to sustainable
life-giving alternatives. Gregory Boertje-Obed (U.S. Penitentiary,
Leavenworth, Kansas) Michael Walli (Federal Correctional Institution
McKean, Bradford, Pennsylvania) and I are sending you some of our
observations and concerns on the 2nd anniversary of our Transform Now
On July 28, 2012, after thorough study of nuclear issues, and because
of our deepening commitment to nonviolence, we engaged in direct
action by cutting through four fences at the Y-12 National Security
Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the U.S. continues to overhaul
and upgrade thermonuclear warheads.
On that day, two years ago, when we reached the building where all
U.S. highly-enriched (bomb-grade) uranium is stored, we prayed and
also wrote messages on the wall, such as"The Fruit of Justice is
Peace." (Realistically, the higher and stronger fences built as a
result of our nonviolent incursion can never keep humans safe from
inherently dangerous materials and weapons.) We acted humbly as
"creative extremists for love", to cite one of our most important and
revered leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr.
There are a number of reasons for what we did. We three were acutely
mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear systems have
already caused, and we realize that all life on Earth could be
exterminated through intentional, accidental, or technical error.
Our action at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge exposed the storage of
weapons-making materials deliberately hidden from the general public.
The production, refurbishment, threat, or use of these weapons of mass
destruction violate the fundamental rules and principles by which we
all try to live amicably as human beings. The United States
Constitution and the Laws of War are intended to ensure the survival
of humanity with dignity. However, it is abundantly clear that harmony
and cooperation among nations can never be achieved with nuclear
weapons. (These arguments, we assume, will be made on our behalf
during the eventual appeal of our convictions that accused us of
sabotage, though it was never our intention to harm our country.)
Our "crime" was to draw attention to the criminality of the
70-year-old nuclear industry itself and to the unconscionable fact
that the United States spends more on nuclear weapons than on
education, health, transportation, and disaster relief combined.
We three Transform Now Plowshares consider it our duty, right, and
privilege to heighten tension in the ongoing debate of Disarmament vs.
Deterrence because history has repeatedly taught us that the policy of
deterrence doesn't lead to security, but rather to the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction. During our trial, the U.S. prosecutors
and the U.S. courts accused the wrong people when they claimed that we
violated the law, because what we did was to make America's citizens
aware of egregious preparations for mass murder.
We took action because we were acutely aware that our government has
failed to keep its long-standing promise to pursue nuclear
disarmament. (As Ramsey Clark testified during one of our pre-trial
hearings, the U.S. entered into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
in the 1960's because our country was finally facing up to the severe
human and environmental consequences of the U.S. atomic bombing of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as to the hideous results of countless
nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government within and beyond our
One of our pressing concerns is that U.S. prosecutors and the courts
adhere to an obsolete view of security with no cognizance “or
consciousness“ of the horrific effects caused by nuclear weapons.
Greg, Mike, and I believe that, undeniably, the U.S. is in a state of
denial. Itâ's what Hannah Arendt called not evil, but the banality of
evil. There's nothing deep about it. It's nothing demonic! There's
simply the reluctance ever to imagine what the other person is
experiencing, right? (Hannah Arendt, "Eichmann was Outrageously
Stupid" in The Last Interview and Other Conversations, Melville House,
Brooklyn 2013, p. 48).
We citizens cannot permit ourselves to be rendered passive and mute by
the banality of evil! Only complete nuclear disarmament can save
humanity. At stake is the honor and dignity of the Hibakusha, along
with the physical, environmental, emotional, and psychological trauma
long suffered by victims of the nuclear system, from uranium miners to
down-winders. (From 1946 to 1958, Marshall Islanders were bombarded
with 67 atomic and thermonuclear tests that were carried out by the
Michael Walli, Greg Boertje-Obed and I are in U.S. prisons because,
ironically, our action at Oak Ridge was based on the common sense
reality that we human beings have endured more than enough destruction
and exploitation. We believe that we citizens can exercise our
collective power to consciously transform our nation's priorities. We
all need to actively insist on more humane uses for the billions of
dollars now budgeted for the nuclear weapons/industrial complex.
Two years ago, as we neared the building in Oak Ridge, we were
extremely surprised by the ineffectiveness of the system that
supposedly guarded our nation's most important National Security
Complex. We believed that we were about to expose the source of
unfettered violence that has led to the chronic spiritual and economic
decline in the U.S. As it turned out, it was the laxity of the
security system at Y-12 that caught the attention of the courts and
the mainstream media. Security weakness became the big story. There
was no mainstream acknowledgement that the national security complex
is rotting from its own irrelevance.
Most surprisingly, our July 2012 action and our court cases have
revealed that it is not the U.S. government that is in control of the
nuclear weapons complex, but in reality it is the corporations that
are in control through their solicitation and manipulation of endless
funding for the refurbishment of unlawful thermonuclear warheads. We
three are incarcerated because we stood up to a nuclear weapons
industry that is kept thriving by the interlocking and obsolete
institutions that subscribe to the long-discredited notion that law
and security can be enforced by ever-greater force.
Regarding the 22.8 billion dollar contract recently awarded for the
operation of the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge and the Pantex site in Texas
for the refurbishment of thermonuclear warheads and a new Uranium
Processing Facility (UPF), the relevant corporations don't actually
operate under the long-discredited myth of a "nuclear deterrence".
Rather, corporations such as Babcock and Wilcox, Lockheed, and Bechtel
operate under limited liability subsidiaries, joint ventures,
consortiums, and partnerships for the main purpose of making profits
by engaging in huge nuclear weapons production/refurbishment
contracts. By this time, Congress certainly is aware that valid
contracts can be issued only for the dismantlement of all nuclear
weapons and for the environmentally-sound treatment and disposition of
all nuclear materials.
In order for the U.S. to negotiate for nuclear disarmament in good
faith, we say it is essential to peaceably transform these very
corporations so that they are no longer able to violate the most basic
moral and legal principles of civilized society by deliberately
precipitating planetary self-destruction.
We thank you for your letters and your concerns. We ask you to support
the Republic of the Marshall Islands in their current legal actions
against the United States in U.S. federal court and against the U.S.
and all the other nuclear weapons states in the International Court of
Justice, for failure to eliminate their respective nuclear arsenals.
You can learn more and add your support by signing the petition at
Greg, Michael and Megan
[You can learn more about the July 28, 2012 Transform Now Plowshares
action, and find prison addresses to write a note of support to Sr.
Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, at