Alliant 28, Not Guilty!

Alliant 28, Not Guilty!
By Steve Clemens. Oct. 18, 2003

On Friday, October 17, 2003, a six-person jury of citizens from Hennepin County, MN declared that International Law can trump the local private property/no trespass law. At the height of the recent war against Iraq, on April 2, 2003, 28 Minnesotans “crossed the line”, entering the world headquarters property of Alliant TechSystems Corporation in Edina, MN with the express purpose of conducting a “citizens weapons inspection”. The letter they carried demanded that they have access to the books and records of Alliant TechSystems Corporation (ATK) to see if they had completed any studies on the medical and environmental effects of the depleted uranium munitions they produce. The defendants contended that there is significant evidence that the depleted uranium penetrator munitions they produce containing U-238, a radioactive substance with a half-life of 4 ½ billion years, is a prime suspect in escalating rates of cancers and birth defects among residents of southern Iraq and US troops who served in the first Gulf War.

Using provisions from the US Constitution and International Humanitarian Law, the defendants successfully argued that the “manufacture, sale, stockpiling, as well as the use of weapons containing this radioactive waste (depleted uranium) is illegal. The US Constitution declares that International Treaties signed by the government become “the supreme law of the land.” The Hague and Geneva Conventions and its protocols and subsequent treaties are clear that weapons which cannot discriminate between civilian and military or combatants are prohibited from not only use but also from manufacture and sale. The Nuremberg Tribunals were the vehicle victorious Allied countries used to judge and punish German military, political, and corporate leaders for war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity after WWII. The Nuremberg Principles were incorporated into the Charter of the United Nations, a treaty which in now “supreme law” in the US when it ratified it. The 7th Principle declares that “complicity with a Crime Against Humanity or a War Crime” is a crime under International Law. Because of the increasing evidence mounting about the indiscriminate nature of this weapon, the defendants argued they were compelled to act.

All 19 of the remaining defendants (9 original defendants pled “guilty” because they were unable to devote a week out of their work/school schedules to a jury trial) testified on Thursday, clearly moving the jury as well as fellow defendants. Steve Clemens introduced the provisions from International Law and he and 3 other defendants told accounts of what they had seen first-hand in visits to Iraq since the 1991 war. Dr. Gene Ott testified about some of the medical consequences he suspects are the results of exposure to the use of these radioactive weapons. The most moving testimony came from a first-time activist. Wendi Nauheimer had never been in a demonstration before. One week before this witness against ATK took place, she told Marv Davidov, the long-time peace and justice activist, “They [ATK] killed my brother, Patrick”. Wendi testified that her brother, a US Marine for 11 years, returned from the desert area of Iraq and Kuwait after “clean-up” of the area where depleted uranium weapons were used with sores on his body. He developed an aggressive form of leukemia and died in 1995, leaving a widow and two young children. Before he died, he told his family, “Something happened to me in that desert”. Wendi believes her brother’s death is at least partially due to the exposure to radiation he received from the waste left by depleted uranium penetrator munitions manufactured by ATK and sold to the Army and Air Force and used in that war.

Another defendant, Katy Gray Brown testified that her brother-in-law is fighting cancers she believes were caused by the radioactive nature of the shrapnel which lodged near his spine during the first Gulf War. The defendants included 6 Roman Catholic nuns who testified how our nations spending on the military has deprived many needy people in our inner cities. Sister Char Madigan pled with the jury to join her in working to move from “money-wealth to commonwealth”. She said that ATK cannot hide what it is doing for profit behind “private property” laws but must be exposed and held accountable like the tobacco companies and Enron. Jane Evershed, a local poet and artist told of being arrested for protesting apartheid in South Africa. Today, that evil system is gone and she believes that some day soon, so will the evilness of depleted uranium weapons be evident to the majority and we will rid ourselves of it as well. Phil Steger, Director of the Friends For a NonViolent World handled the difficult task of the opening and closing arguments, winning praise from the prosecutor. Because all of the defendants were there without an attorney by their choice, Phil’s eloquence was all the more appreciated by the other defendants since this was his first trial.

Although most defendants were motivated by their Christian faith, Kathleen Ruona, a proclaimed atheist, spoke movingly of “species arrogance” in that the deadly radiation released by these illegal weapons threaten not only humans but other plant and animal life as well. Marv Davidov, a Jewish activist thundered like one of the Hebrew prophets of old as he decried the racism of our society and then told of his 30+ year campaign to stop the production of landmines, cluster bombs, and depleted uranium weapons made by Honeywell Corporation and now by the spin-off of that company into ATK. Because of the large and frequent demonstrations against the weapons they were making, Honeywell divested itself of that division. Marv and “Alliant Action”, as well as the newly-created “Philip Berrigan Depleted Uranium Coalition”, will continue to work to convert ATK from its present production of “swords” into “plowshares” which can better all humankind. Weekly vigils, begun in 1995, will continue by the entrance to ATK. Come join us!

My Trial Testimony - ATK Trial 2003

Steve Clemens testimony for Alliant Trial 2003 - October 2003

I am a husband and the father of 2 young men, ages 17 and 20. I have been married 25 years and my wife is in the back of the courtroom today. I have worked for Habitat for Humanity here in the Twin Cities (a non-profit that builds homes with volunteers for low-income families) for 12 years. I recently came back from HFH trip to Egypt/Jordan, building homes as a gesture of peacemaking and reconciliation between Christians and Muslims. I am a member of the Community of St. Martin, an ecumenical Christian worshipping community committed to peace and justice. Each year members take a vow of nonviolence. My faith and religious beliefs are central to who I am.

As a freshman student at Wheaton College in 1968, I turned 18 and was forced to wrestle with the question of the morality of war as I was faced with the military draft. After prayerful study, soul-searching, and discussion with others, I chose to register as Conscientious Objector, a person opposed to participation in all wars.

In my senior year of college in 1971, as part of an International semester abroad, I took an International law course in The Hague, Netherlands, the place where much of the international rules concerning behavior in warfare were originally developed. We also visited Geneva where the most current rules concerning warfare have been discussed and adopted. We had a discussion about Nuremburg Tribunals and their role in Int’l Law. The Nuremberg Tribunal was the trial of the Nazi leaders for War Crimes. Not only political and military leaders were tried but also some corporate leaders.
I was able to visit the concentration camp at Dachau to see the realities of “crimes against humanity”.
My interest in International Law led me to read a book written by a Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, Telford Taylor entitled Nuremberg and Vietnam. Reading that book helped me understand that even our own country must follow the Laws of War.

I spent a year with Mennonite voluntary service in Washington, DC. in 1975. While there, my interest in nuclear and radioactive weapons was sparked by Philip Berrigan and Liz Macalister in 1975. I participated in a Bible and Book Study with them on the Biblical Prophets and our need to speak out.

Throughout the years since then, I have participated in numerous nonviolent witness actions against war and particularly against weapons which do not discriminate against non-combatants.

I moved to MN in 1990 and by 1995 or so, I became familiar with Alliant TechSystems and the weapons they made. Protests started with landmines, continued with cluster bombs, now Depleted Uranium munitions are a primary focus.

In my studies about International Law, I learned:
International Law is binding on us per the US Constitution where Article VI states that “all treaties made under the authority of the US shall be the SUPREME law of the land” and judges are bound thereby. (Exhibit 119)

The US was a party to the Hague Treaty, the Geneva Conventions and its subsequent protocols, and was a main prosecutor of the Nuremberg Tribunals. As a signatory to the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Tribunal rulings have the effect of International Customary Law. Int’l law is clear that weapons which are “indiscriminate” are banned. (Exhibit #149, 150, 151, 152). [I “walked through” some of the provisions against these weapons from 3 treaties and the Nuremberg Tribunal.]

International Law is developed not only through treaties but is “found” through the Customs of Nations (Customary Law) and the writings of scholars. I have read scholarly articles about indiscriminate weapons and the relevance of International Humanitarian Law. Articles by R.J. Aurajo on landmines and Karen Parker on DU have led me to believe that treaties naming specific weapons to be banned are not needed since the broad provisions of the Hague and Geneva Treaties already have made them illegal. Karen Parker, an attorney who specializes in Human Rights has addressed UN Committees which are discussing Depleted Uranium weapons. I believe she is correct when she asserts that DU fails 4 tests for legal weapons. (Quote article*). She and other experts on International Law led the UN Commission on Human Rights to pass a resolution banning the use of DU weapons, nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons, cluster bombs and other similar weapons in 1996.

I had a moral, practical, legal, and personal responsibility to cross the line at ATK:
• Moral: as a follower of Jesus, I am called to love my enemy, not bomb them. I felt the need to put my faith, beliefs and “prayers for peace” into action.

• Practical: politically, silence in the face of evil implies consent. What is done in my name, by my country, cannot go unchallenged. I have voted, written letters to elected officials, marched in the streets, and prayerfully vigiled. “Putting my body on the line” was a way to continue to act on my convictions.

• Legal: The Nuremberg Tribunals require us to take a stand. International Humanitarian Law and Common Law are clear that weapons which are indiscriminate are illegal and cannot be manufactured, sold, stockpiled, or used. The fact that there presently does not exist an active enforcement mechanism does not relieve us of moral and legal responsibility under the Nuremberg Principles. Principle #7 of it states: Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law. (Exhibit 111).

• Personal: I traveled to Iraq this past December, just before the latest war. After seeing children I believe were victims of illegal weapons used in the first Gulf War when I visited the Children’s Hospital in Basrah, I traveled to an area nicknamed “The Highway of Death”. (Exhibit 114) This tank I am standing in front of had steel armor that was 2 ½” thick. I saw on the side of the tank a hole bored through that steel armor that appeared to me to be caused by projectile that completely penetrated the armor. I believe this tank was destroyed by a depleted uranium penetrator. I have read numerous accounts of how this weapon works and I learned that when fired from a gun or artillery, the DU actually burns in the air and according to the military “cuts through steel armor like a hot knife through butter”. As it burns, it also “aerosolizes” and 20-70% of the radioactive material is converted to minute particles of dust which can be swallowed, breathed in, or enter the body through any cuts or scratches. Others will testify further about this weapon. After viewing the destroyed tanks and civilian vehicles I gathered the 5 Iraqis who traveled with us and told them how sorry I was that my nation had used DU weapons in the past war. I told them that although I spoke out and demonstrated against that war, I still asked for their forgiveness for what was done “in my name”. As we cried and embraced, I gave them my solemn word that when I returned to America I would take action to prevent these weapons from being used again.

When I went to ATK that Wednesday morning last April, I was aware of a letter other demonstrators carried re: citizen’s weapons inspection and I support that letter.(Other defendants will talk about that letter- the same letter that Lisa Amman tried to give to Officer Larson when she was arrested.) I carried a sign (hold it up) with me. (Exhibit 117). I also carried a letter addressed to Alliant personnel when I “crossed the line.” My letter reads, in part: (read letter). I mailed the letter to Alliant after the Edina Police told me they refused to take it as soon as I was released from the Edina jail. (Exhibit 118) When I was told by the Edina Police Officers who approached me that I had to leave or I would be arrested, I told them I was there pursuant to International Law and the State Constitution and had a claim of right to be there. It is my belief that a provision in the State Constitution also, like International Law, gives us a right to be protesting on ATK’s property. (exhibit 110). (Read it).

I believe that the cluster bombs and DU weapons used against the Iraqi people were made by ATK and are illegal under International Humanitarian Law. I believe the Nuremberg Principles requires us with knowledge of these illegal weapons to take action ourselves. I believe the state constitution of MN gives us the right to express our conscience in this matter. I believe I had a claim of right to enter Alliant Tech property.

I have committed civil disobedience in the past (like ML King, Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, and Mary Lou Hamer). However, this time I believe I did not violate the law because I believe I had a Claim of Right under both the provisions of International Law as well as the State Constitution’s provisions of freedom of conscience.

I am both proud and humbled to be a co-defendant with such a group of conscientious citizens who not only love the principles on which our country was founded, but also strive to love all the citizens of our planet.

Exhibit 110: State of MN Constitution, Art. 1, Sec. 16 on Freedom of Conscience
Exhibit 111: Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nurnberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal.
Exhibit 114: Photo of Steve standing in front of destroyed Iraqi tank south of Basrah
Exhibit 117: Sign reading “ATK cluster bomb and DU weapons are illegal under Int’l Law”
Exhibit 118: Letter written 4/2/03 by Steve to Alliant re: why I was there that day.
Exhibit 119: Article 6 of the US Constitution (relevance of International traties)
Exhibit 149:Protocol 1 of Geneva Convention, Part III, Art. 35, 36; Part IV Art.48, and 51.
Exhibit 150: CCW (Certain Conventional Weapons) Convention
Exhibit 151:Agreement for Establishment of an Int’l Military Tribunal for War Crimes in Europe.
Exhibit 152: Hague Convention (1907), Section !!, Chapter 1, Art. 22, 23
* Campaign Against Depleted Uranium, Statement by Karen Parker at Int’l. Conference, Manchester, UK 11/4-500