Did you hear the one about the 84 year old Roman Catholic Nun who was sentenced to a 3 year prison term for sabotage? No really, it’s not a joke. It really happened! Yesterday an 84 year old anti-nuclear protester nun and her two Catholic co-defendants were sentenced for their role in a break in at a nuclear power plant in Tennessee. The nun received a 36 month sentence while her peace loving comrades who have a history peaceful civil disobedience, got 62 months. All three were also given 3 additional years of supervised release and jointly pay nearly $53,000 in restitution.
The National Security Complex near Knoxville Tenn. was thought to be one of the most secure nuclear plants in the entire country and often referred to as the “Fort Knox of uranium.” But how secure could it have really been if an 84 year old and her two Catholic partners in crime, age 58 and 64 were able to cut their way through not one but three chain link fences, then make their way to a $550 million dollar storage bunker that contained an undisclosed amount of bomb-grade uranium in the most secure area of the yard. Once there the three had over two hours to hang banners, paint messages and anti nuclear slogans and splash vials of human blood on the walls representing the blood of small children killed by nuclear weapons. It’s hard to believe that they were there two hours before the first security forces caught them, despite the fact that they had triggered the alarm system as they cut their way through the very first fence! It would almost be laughable if it wasn’t so damn scary!
Although the three activists made no attempt to gain entry to the bunker and officials said that there was no danger that they could have, what if real terrorists had broken into the security facility instead of three anti-nuclear demonstrators? Think about it. Could a specialized team of highly trained terrorists have actually found their way into the bunker and made away with bomb-grade uranium in less than two hours? Frightening thought.
As a result of their break in the three demonstrators exposed several major security flaws in what was supposed to be a “high” security facility. Certainly they broke the law and the three need to face a consequence for their actions but the fact that those actions actually alerted the federal government to a potentially dangerous breach of security should also be considered. Because of their actions the plant was shut down until the security issues were corrected. Workers were retrained, contractors fired and replaced, protocol rewritten and the high level of security called for was re-established. All because 3 peaceniks wanted to make a statement about nuclear bombs and nuclear war. I truly believe it should count for something.
I’ve got to say the judge who sentenced them definitely had some big cojones! I mean sending an 84 year old who has dedicated her life to Christ and was a missionary in Africa for over 40 years to prison is gutsy. She’s a nun for Godsakes! Yeah, yeah, I know the judge wanted to make an example of them to dissuade other such protests and that’s all well and good, but come on judge have a heart. What harm did their protest really do? A clean up crew and a little paint and the bunker was as good as new. Besides, look at all the good that came out of it all. The United States may be a safer place because of them.
Come on judge, the three have already been in jail for over nine months so you could have sentenced them to time served with a period of probation, some community service and thrown in the monetary restitution for good measure, but nooooo, you chose to play hardball with the three despite the fact that they have dedicated their lives to pursuing peace and serving the poor. Hope you can live with that judge. You’re probably not Catholic but remember, one day you too will be judged…