Defensetech blog reports that a retired Catholic priest and two vets broke in to a military nuclear weapons facility and banged a Minuteman III missile silo cover with hammers, in an attempt to disable the weapon. Oh yeah, they were dressed in clown suits while they did it.
The trio -- members of the Luck, Wisconsin group Nukewatch -- said the break-in was part of "a call for national repentance" for the Hiroshima and Nagaski A-bombings in 1945.
The activists used bolt-cutters to get into the E-9 Minuteman II facility, located just northwest of the White Shield, North Dakota. "Using a sledgehammer and household hammers, they disabled the lock on the personnel entry hatch that provides access to the warhead and they hammered on the silo lid that covers the 300 kiloton nuclear warhead," the group said in a statement. "The activists painted 'It's a sin to build a nuclear weapon' on the face of the 110-ton hardened silo cover and the peace activists poured their blood on the missile lid."
This was all done while wearing face paint, dunce caps, misfitting overalls, and bright yellow wigs.
Link. When they were finished, the three clowns piled into a teeny-weeny car with a talking seal in the trunk, and the bearded lady drove them all off into the sunset. What I love about this country is that these men were not shot on sight.
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Reader comment: Cris in Addison Texas says,
One of my uncles was a "Turn Key" with the USAF for a number of years. That means he was one of the guys tasked with sitting a half mile underground in a secure capsule, in case the order to launch ever came. He gave my family a tour of the launch facilities and a silo back in 1985 ( and yes, it was very much like the begining of WARGAMES). The Launch Silos are scattered ALL OVER the midwest with just a chain link fence it would appear to protect the site. However, they do have a Perimeter Intrusion "electronic fence" around each one. If someone crosses that perimeter, it sets off an alarm and one or more 2 man Emergency Response Teams will scramble and get to the site within a 5 minute window (at the time these were normally a modified SUV with a roof turret mounted M-60)... this is why protesters were able to plant their graffiti. There are simply to many launch silos scattered over far to wide an area to station gaurds at each location 24/7.
Additionally... other than maybe making a mess (and a biohazard technically if they left their own blood behind)...short of several pounds of a really powerfull explosive, or a shape charge...there is ZERO chance they could have damaged the silo with a couple of hammers. Those lids are blast hardened, reenforced and a few feet thick. I suppose the Air Force may need to purchase some more chain and a new padlock though.
Mike Benedetti says,
I've been surprised that so many people commenting on blogs (including the guy you quoted at BoingBoing) don't get that hammering on a missile silo is meant to be purely a symbolic act.
These guys are part of the Plowshares movement, who "hammer swords into plowshares" (an image from the book of Isaiah) to "witness" against warmaking. Plowshares people are mostly religious and mostly Catholic. (I have several good friends who've done jail time as a part of "Plowshares actions.") They've been doing this stuff for like 25 years now.
There's a high-profile case dragging on in Ireland right now involving some "Ploughshares" (as they spell it there) activists: Link. Anyway, great to see some hard-core pacifists mentioned on BoingBoing.
Andrew Denton interviewed Ciaron O'Reilly, one of the men involved in the Irish case, less than a week ago.
Link has transcript, video and mp3.
edgewood smith says,
in response to the missle hammering (which I support the symbolic act), there is a new national Historic Site in South Dakota The Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. As I head down for a week in the Badlands I intend to try and get a tour here and take photos. Link
This is at least the third time Carl Kabat has tried to sabotage a missile while dressed as a clown: Link. These three guys are connected to the loosely-organized Catholic Worker movement, one of the domestic activist groups the FBI was caught spying on last December: Link. My saying this was "purely" a symbolic act overstates things and does a disservice to the interplay of symbolism and practicality here.
Dakota Ken says,
I had a similar experience at a T-9 site in Wyoming last August.
I was heading south down I-25 on my way to Colorado Springs. Having an interest in Cold War activities and abandoned missile silos I made a map of sites which were supposed to be decommisioned. I stopped at the T-9 site and spent 30-45 minutes looking around the perimeter of the site, taking pictures and trying to imagine what is must have been like when active and manned.
About 30 minutes into my wanderings I noticed a black, unmarked Pickup/SUV truck had pulled up to front of the access road (kind of out of nowhere because I could see for miles and hear the slightest movements of birds, bugs, etc out there in the vast expanse of Wyoming). I thought perhaps it was a rancher who now owned (read repossesed the land) the site as part of their ranch and was just scoping out why I was walking around this parcel of land.
However, upon my driving down the road to the main road the SUV blocked my way, and two sentry's with automatic weapons got out of the truck and motioned me to stop (these kids looked to be no more than 19-20 years old). I was asked what I was doing there and I explained my trip and my interest in historical sites. I said it was my understanding this was an abandoned, decomissioned site from 1999 and I found it interesting. The sentry then said that it was not abandoned and I needed to provide ID for a security check.
I was detained, in my car, while they checked me out for the next 30 minutes. When the sentry came back, returned my ID, and said I could depart, I asked if I should/not stop at another site some 40 miles south. He said if I did the sentry's there may not be as friendly.
As I was driving away and returning to the interstate I could see that they stayed and waited for me to enter the highway and then drove up the access road to check on the perimeter fencing. Isn't it odd that a site, which has publicly been labeled decommissioned as of 1999, would still have activities going on and sentry's guarding it's perimeter???
Howard Rosenfeld says,
I have one question - where did that last paragraph come from?? I guess it's funny and I know BB readers have a sense of humor but it would be great if you could add on to that story what really happened to them: "Guards responded within minutes. And when they arrived, the protesters "ate a lot of gravel," I'm told.
"The individuals were taken from the area and brought to the McLean County Jail," the AP notes. "The three are being charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief, both Class A misdemeanors, and bond was set at $500 each.... The FBI is involved in the case and federal charges are pending."
People can go here for updates on this action: Link
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