Thursday, December 9, 2010

Trident Plowshares Trial Continues: Questions, Questions, Questions

News Release


December 8, 2010


For Immediate Release


Trident Plowshares Trial Continues: Questions, Questions, Questions


Tacoma, Washington, Tuesday, December 8, 2010:The Disarm Now

Plowshares trial began its second day this morning in U.S. District

Court in Tacoma, Washington.


Before bringing in the jury, Judge Benjamin Settle took up the subject

of judicial notice of nuclear weapons at Bangor, stating that the

defense was relying on three documents to confirm the presence of

nuclear weapons at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor (NBKB) and Strategic

Weapons Facility, Pacific (SWFPAC).


After the defense introduced an additional document they believed to

confirm the presence of nuclear weapons at NBKB and SWFPAC, the

prosecution stated what the government has done to reach a stipulation

regarding nuclear weapons at Bangor.


The government will neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear

weapons at Bangor.  It is prohibited to do so.  They will only say

that Bangor has the capability to service nuclear missiles.  The

defense can say they thought there were nuclear weapons there, but the

government will neither confirm nor deny that, and that is as far as

they can go.


Judge Settle stated that nothing in the documents supplied by the

defense confirms the presence of nuclear weapons at Bangor.


The judge then stated the facts accepted by the court: that nuclear

weapons exist, that the Navy has fourteen SSBN’s in operation, that

the Trident was designed to carry nuclear weapons, and that Bangor is

home port of eight Trident submarines.  The defense will limit its

questions to these four facts, whether or not there is evidence of

nuclear weapons at Bangor,claiming that this is not pertinent to the

issues before the court.  Judge Settle then provided the defense with

specific questions they may ask.


The defense objected to the limited questions allowed by Judge Settle,

but were overruled.  Judge Settle stated that the court has taken

great care to protect the highly classified nature of Bangor



The jury was brought into the courtroom and the prosecution began to

present its case.  The government’s witnesses included an officer from

the Navy NW Regional Police Department, a funding and facilities

manager at Bangor, a Marine who was part of the security detail on the

day of the Plowshares action, a member of the Navy security response

team, and an investigator with the Naval Criminal Investigation

Service Counterterrorism Unit.


After the jury was brought in the prosecution and defense continued to

struggle over which facts would be presented to the jury.


In her cross examination of Naval Petty Officer Austin Wilchek, Anne

Montgomery, RSCJ asked, “In any of your training were you given

military regulations that prohibit the indiscriminate killing of

civilians?”  The prosecution objected that the question was

irrelevant, to which Montgomery retorted, “ Well, it was very

important to us.”


In its examination of witnesses the prosecution paid great attention

to the physical details of the case. Craig Spencer, an investigator

with the Naval Criminal Investigation Service Counterterrorism Unit,

was asked about the width and height of the opening cut in the outer

fence, as well as the use of twist ties to close the opening.


On the other hand, the defense focused on questions of a more

universal nature.  Do nuclear weapons exist?  Has the United States

developed submarines intended to carry nuclear weapons?  Are there any

of those submarines in the vicinity of the base where you work?  Did

the base have nuclear-armed submarines on the day in question?


By this line of questioning the defense hopes to create an opening for

the jury to base its verdict on a set of laws that is broader in scope

than mere trespass and property damage.


Steve Kelly, SJ asked Spencer, “Are you aware of Trident’s capacity

for mass destruction?”  “No, I’m not aware of what it can and cannot

do,” replied Spencer.  Kelly then asked, “If you knew of a crime being

committed, a law that was being broken on the base, would you be

alarmed?” Spencer replied simply, “I would investigate.”


Tomorrow the government plans to finish presenting its case, and the

defense may begin to call witnesses, including Scottish Trident

Ploughshares activist Angie Zelter; Dr. David Hall, former President

of the Washington State Chapter of Physicians for Social

Responsibility; and Steven Leeper, Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace

Culture Foundation.


Updates and more at


Contact: Leonard Eiger  (425) 445-2190

Media & Outreach Coordinator

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action






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