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