cut down and shut down
Trident Trigger Terror Topples

by Tom H. Hastings
June 28 2000

The bomb squad went out again in the northcountry, out to the navy's thermonuclear command center in the Chequamegon National Forest near Clam Lake, Wisc. They defused and dismantled the dangerous device, rendering it harmless.

Then, we were saddened to learn, the mad bombers rebuilt it.

The bomb squad in this case was just two people, Michael Sprong and Bonnie Urfer, who took Swede saws to three Extremely Low Frequency antenna poles on Saturday 24 June at about 1:45 in the afternoon.

Back when I was a member of the bomb squad, we began operations by mustering and deploying in a predawn action. This one was more like John Candy in "Wagons, East!" when he commanded the settlers to be ready to "head out at dawn!" paused, and shrugged his shoulders, "noonish." "The flies were a horrid swarm," noted Sprong. Mosquitoes at dawn are better.

So the two disarmers dismantled the ELF poles with their saws. Instead of triggering nuclear war, as ELF is designed to do, they triggered alarms which summoned Kyle the deputy, who also arrested Barb Katt of Luck, Wisc., there in a witness capacity. Barb was charged with "Party to the crime" on sabotage and damage to property and got out four days later, charges dropped, after anyone failed to find probable cause.

To learn something of what a Trident submarine is, go rent "Crimson Tide," the excellent 1994 film starring Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman. There are only a couple of technical errors in the film that I noticed, and the Pentagon approved of the movie, but I took it to be an antinuclear work overall, one of those bits of evidence that Trident submarines are an imminent danger every second they are out there.

Sprong and Urfer were not prompted by a movie to be there at ELF; they were keenly aware from their research into both nuclear arsenals, and the law that pertains to them, that ELF performs an illegal function, impermissible under several treaties and the navy's own rules of warfare. Some of the treaties that provide cogent legal arguments against Trident and ELF include:

* Hague Accords of 1899 and 1907 prohibiting war on civilians and projectiles that would harm villages, towns and cities

* Geneva Conventions of 1925 outlawing poisonous weapons

* Nuremberg Tribunal findings proscribing war of aggression

* Flick case requiring citizens to violate national laws if need be in order to obey these international treaties

* International Court of Justice ruling issued 8 July 1996 that outlaws even the possession of a single nuclear weapon under virtually every imaginable circumstance

There are more laws that bolster the legal arguments that called the bomb squad out to ELF, but these are the mandates. One could look at the preamble to the UN Charter, for example, and find more weight behind any effort to free humanity from the threat of war and genocide. In this age of thermonuclear arsenals, war can escalate to genocide with the push of a button, with the execution of a few keystrokes, with the turn of a key. Only one bomb squad member-Bonnie Urfer-remains incarcerated at the moment. As I write this, Michael Sprong is out on bond and asleep in the next room with his wife, Beth Preheim. Michael was released at 11:30 p.m. and they will be heading back into Ashland early this morning to begin wrestling with trial preparations.

On Sunday morning 25 June I headed out into the woods to where navy trucks were undertaking to rebuild the command line. I walked out and saw that the bomb builders had already replaced the sawn-down poles, though the lines were still hanging low to the ground.

I began taking pictures as I advanced and, when I was perhaps 40 feet away from the five workers, the alpha male came charging at me like an old water buffalo guarding his harem. "Get out of here! This is a hard hat area!" he bellowed, and it was just moments before we were bumping bellies. His being the more significant by orders of magnitude, I motioned to the woods not 15 feet from us and said, "OK, I'll stand over there."

"You don't need to be here!" he commanded.

"I'll go anywhere I please in the National Forest," I said and he immediately called the sheriff. Whatever.

Two more resisters crossed the line with an indictment a little while later. Kate Berrigan, 18, an Oberlin college student and natural member of the first family of American resistance, was joined by Annika Spalde, a Swedish woman who herself had hammered on a British Trident sub in 1998.

The campaign to end ELF's reign of terror continues; call (715) 724-2054 for updates.