Re: Department of Veterans Affairs Program for the Follow-up and Monitoring of
- From: alan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Alan)
- Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2006 22:59 +0000 (GMT Standard Time)
In article <Dp2Lf.34741$Q22.34638@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
fd003f0606@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Fred Dawson) wrote:
The out come of a study to address this issue can be found at
The non-radioactive tungsten alloy alternative appears far more carcinogenic
I do feel that I must now point out that you have admitted in a public forum
that you are a war criminal:
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota -- In the span of five days, separate juries found two
groups of anti-war activists "not-guilty" of trespass last December.* Such
verdicts are extremely rare, but four different juries have now sided with peace
activists who have refused to leave the premises of the biggest arms merchant in
Minnesota -- Alliant Techsystems, Inc. -- before getting an appointment. After
refusing to talk with us last July, the company's managers had us arrested. But
who's guilty of a crime?
Along with an identical acquittal in October 2003, and a similar one in 1997,
the politically-charged trials -- all conducted by different judges in Hennepin
County District courts -- have vindicated a total of 106 people. The 1997 group
-- 79 protesters in all -- won a "not guilty" verdict after showing that the
outlaw status of land mines excused what otherwise appears to be trespassing.
Alliant Tech?, a $2.4 billion weapons giant headquartered in the Minneapolis
suburb of Edina, or "ATK" as it calls itself, is one of the nation's foremost
producers of "depleted" uranium munitions or DU. The armor-piercing shells are
made of radioactive waste uranium-238 left over after uranium-235 has been
removed for use in reactor fuel and H-bombs.(1) The misnomer "depleted" is a
soothing Pentagon distraction, since DU is "depleted" only of uranium-235. The
shells are solid radioactive waste and turn into chemically toxic and
carcinogenic dust when they smash and burn through hard targets.
This past January and May, three other groups of alleged trespassers had their
charges dropped just prior to trial. Another group of 34 civil resistors
arrested March 14 had charges dismissed on a technicality: A hastily-enacted
Edina city ordinance had not been officially published, i.e. enacted, before it
was charged against the protesters.
The December acquittals turned the tables on ordinary "trespass" allegations and
put ATK (a Honeywell Corporation spin-off) in the hot seat.
Three of the defendants in the Dec. 14 acquittal had visited Iraq themselves and
had seen firsthand the consequences of using nuclear waste as a weapon of war.
Jane Hosking, John Heid and Mike Miles, all of Anathoth Community Farm -- an
intentional anti-war community -- near Luck, Wisconsin, testified as eye
witnesses to the documented increases in cancer and leukemia in southern Iraq
that have occurred since the U.S.'s 1991 bombardment.
Hundreds of tons of the waste uranium shells have been used by the U.S. against
Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo. The U.S. military fired at least 340 tons
of DU into Iraq in 1991(2), from 176 to 200 tons during its March 2003
bombardment (3); five tons into Bosnia in 1994-'95 (4); and between 10 and 12
tons into Kosovo in 1999 (5). Estimates of how much was used in the 2001
bombardment of Afghanistan vary widely, but the Uranium Medical Research Center
(www.umrc.org) claims 2,000 tons. In November 2004, Iraq's U.S.-picked
provisional government had the nerve to ask the UN for help in cleaning up the
uranium dust spread across the country by U.S. and British forces during the
1991 and 2003 attacks. The UN declined, saying the U.S. has not provided it with
maps of where its DU was used.
The use of DU created a European uproar in January 2001 (6), when pollution left
from the bombing of Kosovo was found to contain plutonium and other highly
radioactive fission products created inside reactors. (7) The Pentagon's Kenneth
Bacon had to acknowledge then that, "We discovered some stray elements ... in
depleted uranium. They consisted of plutonium, neptunium and americium."(8)
Since then, Italy, Germany, Norway, Greece and other NATO allies have called for
a moratorium on the use of DU, hundreds of protests have taken place across
Europe and, closer to home, scores of civil resistance arrests have taken place
at ATK and other DU manufacturers in the U.S. (9)
The Pentagon calls its DU shells "tank busters." In fact, they don't always work
as such because the angle of impact must be within a small range to avoid
ricochets or duds. When they do make a hit, uranium shells are more properly
called "gene busters," because the pulverized uranium-238 can be inhaled or
ingested.(10) Inside human bodies, DU attacks the gene pool, bombarding
surrounding tissues and damaging chromosomes in successive generations -- for
eons. Uranium-238 is a heavy metal toxin, like lead or mercury, with a
radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years.(11)
About 700,000 tons of DU was produced at government-owned uranium enrichment
plants in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Paducah. Kentucky; and Portsmouth, Ohio.(12) The
government gives this waste uranium metal free to weapons merchants.(13) The
sharks then turn around and sell the shells to the government. Even the small
caliber (30mm) shells bring $21.50 a piece, according to the Wall Street Journal
quoting the Air Force.(14) The Air Force?s A-10 Thunderbolt -- sometimes called
the "Warthog" -- fires 30mm DU shells at a rate of 3,600 shells per minute, or
60 rounds/second. The war profiteering is almost boggling. (ATK is also the
country's top bullet maker. The company announced last April that its Lake City,
Missouri plant had produced 1.2 billion bullets for the U.S. Army in a period of
12 months. Over the next 12 it plans to make another 1.5 billion bullets.)(15)
According to its own promotional materials, ATK has made over 18 million of the
shells -- 16 million 30mm, and 2 million 120mm "anti-tank" rounds. The uranium
"penetrators" as the company calls them are "pyrophoric" -- they burn through
tank armor and, astoundingly, they self-sharpen as they punch through. (Tungsten
works to smash through tank armor, but its importation is expensive.)
For over nine years, ATK has been the target of relentless protest. The company
is a natural focus of anti-war work because of its sales of land mines, cluster
bombs, rocket motors, machine guns and DU.
The six-person jury in our case, and in similar trials Dec. 10, 2004, and Oct.
18, 2003, decided that the defendants' argument is reasonable even if
technically "mistaken." As the judge told the jury, "If defendants acted in good
faith under claim of right, even if reasonably mistaken as to this right, you
must find the defendants not guilty."
We testified that weapons being made with radioactive waste are illegal and that
international law provided us a legitimate "claim of right" in acting to prevent
war crimes. In his instructions to the jury, Hennepin County District Judge Jack
Nordby explained that "claim of right" is, "A good faith claim by defendants
that permission was given to them to be upon the premises by a statute, rule,
regulation or other law..." and "is not limited to a claim of title or
ownership." Finally, "other law" the judge instructed, "means any law enacted by
the federal or state government, any treaty to which the United States is a
party, or any binding rule of international law.
ATK's uranium munitions can't be squared with the Geneva Conventions which
require protection of civilians and which forbid long-term environmental
destruction; and DU also violates the 1907 Hague Regulations' prohibition of
With the law on our side -- although we had to risk a $1,000 fine and 90 days in
jail to prove it -- we put ATK in the hot seat. Thanks to the protests, ATK's
management and board of directors knows its land mines and uranium weapons have
been condemned internationally -- by treaty law in the case of land mines and by
a UN Sub-Commission and the European Parliament in the case of depleted uranium.
Because of the uranium pollution found in Bosnia and Kosovo, governments and
NGOs around the world have pressed for independent studies of DU's effects and
have recommended a halt to its use until its dangers are better understood.(16)
International efforts to rid the world of uranium weapons appear the strongest
in Europe, a place that knows something about being bombed in wartime. The legal
victories in Minnesota will put the United States' anti-DU movement on the map.
? The October 2003 trial ended in acquittal just as an international uranium
weapons conference in Hamburg, Germany (www.uraniumweaponsconference.de) was
wrapping up its work. Two-hundred delegates from 23 countries resolved that the
U.S. and the U.K. must: 1) provide medical treatment and compensation to
DU-contaminated troops and civilians; 2) clean-up and decontaminate DU-targeted
areas in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq; and 3) join in efforts to
prohibit the manufacture, sale, stockpiling or use of DU.
? The UN Environment Program has recommended that, "Continued monitoring is
clearly needed, and the local [Kosovo] population should be informed about DU
? The UN Sub-Commission On Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of
Minorities has resolved that "all states ... need to curb the production and
spread of weapons of mass destruction and indiscriminate effect, in
particular... weaponry containing depleted uranium ..."(18)
? The European Parliament, in its "resolution on the consequences of using
depleted uranium munitions," called upon member states that are also in NATO "to
propose that a moratorium be placed on the use of depleted uranium weapons..."
The resolution also called for "measures to provide assistance to civilian
victims and to protect the environment" in Bosnia and Kosovo.(19)
Back in Minneapolis, we explained to the jury that after World War II, the laws
of war changed in two monumental ways. First, prior to the Holocaust, acts of
mass destruction were outlawed but prosecutions were possible only
after-the-fact. At Nuremberg, German judges, military officers and private
industrialists were tried, and the "planning and preparation" of illegal warfare
was criminalized. Nuremberg's purpose in punishing "inchoate crimes" or
crimes-in-the-making -- by outlawing production of weapons that can't be used
legally -- is to insure that ordinary citizens can act to prevent wartime
Second, the Nuremberg Tribunal held individuals individually responsible for
their actions even if they were fulfilling government contracts or just
"following orders." The prosecution, led by a U.S. Supreme Court justice,
demanded then that if mass destruction is made legal by the state, then the
state must be disobeyed.
The Nuremberg Tribunal declared, "International law, as such, binds every
citizen, just as does ordinary municipal law. The fact that a person acts
pursuant to his government or of a superior does not relieve him from
responsibility under international law provided a moral choice was in fact
The cumulative effect of Nuremberg, the Geneva Conventions and the Hague
Regulations is that citizens are rightfully allowed to interfere with the
government's criminal acts. In Minnesota law, juries don't have to agree with
this analysis. They only have to find that it is legally reasonable.
As we explained in our closing argument at trial, "In a nutshell, the law says:
It is forbidden to use poison or poisoned weapons; to use weapons that do
severe, long-term damage to the environment; to use weapons that cannot
distinguish between civilians and soldiers, or to use materials or devices that
are similar to gas; the planning or preparation of wars that would violate
binding treaties is itself a crime; individuals are personally responsible for
their participation in these crimes ?- which is to say that we must all avoid
such participation; finally, binding treaties and agreements are officially
elevated to the position of 'the Supreme Law of the Land' by the Constitution of
the United States."
To date, four ordinary juries have recognized the citizen's right to nonviolent
obstinacy in the face of official wrongdoing. In the case of refusing to leave
ATK's "dirty bomb" headquarters until we were granted a meeting, we merely
attempted an act of crime prevention.
Not only did we beat the wrap, but government prosecutors can now consider
bringing charges against the real criminals. (1,958 words)
JOHN M. LaFORGE
Do feel free to read on.
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