Trip Report - Montana
25 May 2003
From: Bill Sulzman
I waited a few days to do this trip update hoping to download a copy of the following news story from the May 21 Missoula Missoulian. The editor had told me it would be available in the archives by now but it is not yet posted so I've retyped the hard copy.
The trip was a success in that I got to meet an impressive array of Montana peace activists in Billings, Helena and Missoula and was able to do some local research on Montana's 200 MM III missiles.
I took several photos and during one silo visit we were able to drive right up to an open gate where a major landscaping repair was going on to correct an erosion problem A construction worker told us that his company had a contract to do repairs on a number of the sites.
There are no details worked out yet but there is a commitment to do some sort of solidarity action in Montana around the time of the sentencing of Carol, Ardeth and Jackie.
Apologies for the expletive deleted in the story!!
P.O. Box 915
Colorado Springs, CO 80901
Ph 719 389 0644
21 May 2003
Last Oct. 6 three Roman Catholic nuns cut the chains on a gate guarding a Minuteman III missile outside Greeley, Colo. Using their own blood, they painted six crosses on the 110-ton concrete silo dome.
They were singing and praying as military riflemen trained automatic weapons on them and a military Humvee crashed through the fence. They were arrested, tried and convicted, on April 7, of obstructing national defense and damaging government property.
The Dominican sisters face up to 30 years in prison, and will likely serve five to eight years after they're sentenced on July 25.
All of which helped to bring Bill Sulzman to Missoula on Tuesday. Sulzman, director of a Colorado-based group called Citizens for Peace in Space, is looking to drum up support for vigils on July 26, the day after the nuns are sentenced, and brought his request to the Jeannette Rankin Peace Resource Center here.
The center, in return, asked Sulzman to speak Tuesday night. He said his message was simple: If the United States is having trouble finding weapons of mass destruction, perhaps it is looking in the wrong place.
"Since the United States cited weapons of mass destruction as a reason to go to war with Iraq, this gives us an opportunity to state the obvious," Sulzman said. "Why isn't this a contradiction? Why does the United States think it should be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction but no other country can? Why is it not hypocritical, that the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy should be that nobody can have weapons of mass destruction, when the U.S. has a whole s___load of them?"
Two hundred of America's Minuteman missiles dot central Montana, more than any other state. Sulzman said the missiles are in the process of being converted to w-87 warheads, or nuclear bombs, and when finished the 500 will each have one 300 kiloton H-bomb, each of which, he said is 20 times the size of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in World War II.
Minutemans can hit targets 7,000 miles away, and can get there in under 30 minutes, he said. Sulzman also heard the Pentagon is looking into a Minuteman IV, a mobile version of the missile.
"That way they're not fixed targets for terrorists," Sulzman said. "It can be in Missoula today, and Helena tomorrow."
Montanans should take notice, he said, because Minuteman missiles "are being defended as a key to U.S. national security, and if they go mobile, they'll go mobile in the western states that are sparsely populated. It's the only way they can make the politics of it work, to put these targets for terrorists in sparsely populated areas."
The nuns protesting the presence of the missiles, he said, expected to be arrested but were stunned at the felonies leveled against them.
"They were convicted of sabotaging the national defense, when everything they did was symbolic," he said. "They put their own blood on the top of the silo lid, left a rosary there, and a copy of an international law book."
Sulzman, himself as former priest, said he has been active in the peace movement for 30 years.