Expert witness to the Judge
who sentenced Plowshares activists
March 27, 2000
The following letter and introduction was provided forwarded
from Elizabeth McAllister of Jonah House where Susan lives.
27 March 2000
Judge James T. Smith, Jr.
Circuit Court for Baltimore County
400 Bosley Ave.
Towson MD 21204, USA
Dear Judge Smith,
Re: Ploughshares vs Depleted Uranium
You must be somewhat disturbed over the trial of Philip Berrigan,
Susan Crane, Stephen Kelly, SJ, and Elizabeth Walz. Your sentencing
was so excessively vindictive that I would guess that the action
of these men and women deeply challenged your "faith"
and belief that Catholic doctrine supported US military activity,
regardless of the judgement of the Church's more prophetic members.
By eliminating expert witnesses in this case, you eliminated
my testimony. I am a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart (Motherhouse
in Yardley Pennsylvania), and also President of the North American
Association of Contemplative Sisters. I am also an Epidemiologist
with 30 years experience with communities exposed to uranium
mining and milling, and related polluting activities. I have
been working for the last three years with the veterans of the
Gulf War who are seriously ill. It was in recognition of my expertise
in the health effects of radiation, especially from uranium compounds,
that I was asked by the defendants to testify to the rationality
of their actions.
In your better moments, you must find that shooting radioactive
waste at one's enemy is outrageous behaviour. How much more outrageous
is it to undermine the health of one's own military personnel,
and the women and children of the land which you have polluted.
There is no war theory which condones indiscriminate poison.
By the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations, depleted
uranium can be handled only by licensed and trained personnel,
and all releases to the environment must be cleaned up. It is
legally recognized as a poison.
I hope that even though you expressed your moral distress
and confusion in an inappropriate way in the court, you will
on sober reflection realize that your silencing of the defendants
did not make the depleted uranium problem go away. As a Catholic
Judge, you should be prepared to hear unwanted truth, and respect
the righteous actions of those who clearly see and denounce a
wrong. I will pray that you find a way quickly to redress the
wrong which you have done and reduce the sentences of the Ploughshares
defendants. Silencing the messengers and prophets has long been
the pattern of behaviour of false leaders. Do not continue on
this wrong path.
Dr. Rosalie Bertell, GNSH
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