Eighty-one-year-old Catholic priest and nun abused after weapons protest

By staff writers
November 3, 2009

A Catholic priest and a nun, both in their 80s, were hooded, handcuffed and held faced down on the ground for four hours before being arrested after a protest against nuclear weapons yesterday.

Father Bill ‘Bix’ Bischel, 81, from Tacoma, Washington and Sister Anne Montgomery, 83, of New York, were arrested along with three others at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.

They entered the base in the early hours of the morning on All Souls Day with the intention of calling attention to the "illegality and immorality" of the existence of the Trident weapons system.

Susan Crane, 65, of Baltimore, Lynne Greenwald, 60, of Bremerton, Washington and Steve Kelly, 60, of Oakland, California were also arrested.

The group entered the base through the perimeter fence and then made their way to the Strategic Weapons Facility - Pacific (SWFPAC). They cut through the first chainlink fence surrounding SWFPAC and then cut the next double layered fence, which was both chain link and barbed wire, and entered the grounds of SWFPAC.

As they walked, they carried a banner with the words: "Disarm Now Plowshares : Trident: Illegal + Immoral".

When they were caught, they were thrown to the ground face down, handcuffed and hooded. They were then held there for four hours on the wet, cold ground. Still hooded, they were carried out through the holes which they had made in the fence for questioning by the base security, FBI and NCIS.

They refused to give any information except their names, and were charged with trespass and destruction of government property.

In a joint statement, the group said: “The manufacture and deployment of Trident II missiles, weapons of mass destruction, is immoral and criminal under International Law and, therefore, under United States law. As US citizens we are responsible under the Nuremberg Principles for this threat of first-strike terrorism hanging over the community of nations, rich and poor. Moreover, such planning, preparation, and deployment is a blasphemy against the Creator of life, imaged in each human being."

There have been approximately 100 Ploughshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Ploughshares actions are based on a passage from the book of Isaiah in the Hebrew scriptures of the Christian Bible. It states: “God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore.”

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the US arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads. In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire US arsenal.

The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.

The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system. Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads. Each warhead has about 30 times the explosive force of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

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