He ordered Michael Walli, who has been based for years at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in Washington, and fellow peace activists Sister Megan Rice and Gregory Boertje-Obed back to jail until the hearing can continue.
In the predawn hours of July 28, 2012, the trio cut through four fences at the Y-12 National Security Complex in nearby Oak Ridge, Tenn., where the fuel for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, was produced during the Manhattan Project.
Having essentially circumvented a glitch-ridden security apparatus that cost $150 million a year, they splashed blood and spray-painted biblical messages on the exterior of the building that warehouses an estimated 400 tons of highly enriched uranium — enough to fuel 10,000 nuclear bombs.
In May, they were convicted by a jury of intending to harm national security and of damaging more than $1,000 in government property. Walli, 65, and Boertje-Obed, 58, have served a combined eight years of jail time for similar crimes that they categorize as symbolic disarmament actions and civil resistance against a far greater crime: the maintenance of a stockpile of immoral and costly weapons that violate international law.
Rice, who will turn 84 Friday, who lived in the District between the intrusion and the trial, was a teacher in West Africa for decades before returning to the United States to devote her “retirement” to anti-nuclear activism.
The break-in prompted a two-week shutdown of operations at Y-12, four congressional hearings and a raft of reports on the mismanagement of site security. The National Nuclear Security Administration responded to the break-in with a variety of security compensations, from the installation of 2,850 linear feet of concertina wire to requiring that malfunctioning security tools be repaired within 24 hours.
Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Y-12, the site’s private contractor for management and operations, was docked $12.2 million in fees and lost a 10-year contract worth $23 billion to manage both Y-12 and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Tex., where nuclear weapons are assembled and disassembled.