Day Five Sentencing: Steve Baggarly, Brad Lyttle

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Sep 20, 2011 4 Comments ›› orepa

DAY FIVE, Part 1 • 19 September 2011, Steve Baggarly


The purpose of the hearing was to sentence Steve Baggarly for his July 2010 trespass at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex, but when the Judge turned to ask Steve if he had anything to say, Steve delivered a message that was part indictment of the bomb plant and part map of the path to hope.


He began with the simple fact that Y12 enriched the uranium for the Little Boy bomb and produced the thermonuclear secondary for every nuclear weapon in the US arsenal. He illustrated the true nature of the bomb with a recollection of the story of a Hiroshima survivor, Kozu Itagaki, who reported: “Victims of the blast seemed like ghosts, without a vestige of clothing, their sex unclear, tottering toward the park, their skin hanging down like potato skins. They climbed toward the top of the hill, supposing they would find relief, but the next morning they were found dead at the top of the hill.” Itagaki-san spent the next days collecting corpses, interrupted in that work by a young boy who approached begging for water. “We saw the signs of jaundice, dehydration, his hair falling out. We agreed that if we gave him water, he would die. We told him to sit under the tree, and we would bring him water later. When we looked over, we saw that he had put his head into sewage and drank there and died. Now that I am a parent, I realize how hard he was crying in his heart for his mother and his father, and I regret that I did not give him water to drink.”


The weapons being produced by the United States today have the power of thousands of Hiroshima bombs, Steve said, and he cited the Congress, the White House, the courts and the American people for a conspiracy and daily rehearsal of the end of the world. “If we do not repent of this idolatry,” Steve said, “we will not even have a chance to regret it.” He quoted Jimmy Carter’s assessment that a nuclear exchange would unleash the entire firepower of World War 2 every second. “Survivors,” Carter said, and Steve repeated,”will live in despair, in a world that has committed suicide.”


“To require children to live in a world threatened by nuclear weapons is an unspeakable evil,” Steve told the court, “and the United States has a moral responsibility to make sure it never happens. If we have any hope for a nuclear weapons free future, the United States must lead, acting with the relentlessness of the Manhattan Project, a nuclear disarmament race.


“We must depart from the Gods of metal,” Steve said, “Depart from evil and seek good, and only then will we see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”


The Judge read the formalities, noting Steve’s several convictions, most recently in March 2010, making him a Category 4 offender, in the 6-12 month range according to the sentencing guidelines. He then sentenced Steve to 8 months in federal prison—he has served four months already. The judge did not levy a fine, and declined to order probation following his release.

Court adjourned, and we bid Steve blessings of peace as he was led in shackles out of the courtroom. Moments later, we enlisted the help of the US Assistant District Attorney to amend the Judge’s order to recommend Steve’s assignment to the federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia.


Steve will be held in Blount County jail where he is cell mates with Mike Walli. It is not clear how long they will be in Tennessee or where they will be moved to when they are moved, but we have scheduled visitation for Saturday morning.


DAY FIVE, Part 2 • Brad Lyttle


If Brad and the judge were going to have a difference of opinion, it wasn’t going to be over Brad’s lack of courtesy. “Mr. Lyttle, can you hear me?” Judge Bruce Guyton asked, as he does of every defendant at the beginning of proceedings. “I certainly can, your honor,” replied Brad cheerfully. And then he thanked the judge for releasing his passport allowing him to travel to Afghanistan and Canada while he was on supervised release, for being kind and open-minded, for assigning the public defender to assist him in his self-representation. Then turning to the Assistant District Attorney, Melissa Kirby, he offered his congratulations on her marriage.


The government made no recommendation about Brad’s sentence, preferring to defer to the judgement of the court. Brad’s history and points placed him in the range to receive a sentence of 1-7 months.


Brad’s elocution called to mind the recent commemorations of September 11, the moving pictures of the catastrophic destruction wrought in New York—“buildings collapsed, people bereaved, in search of loved ones. Over two thousand people in New York alone. I was deeply moved.”


Then Brad cited the testimony of the Manager of Y12 during the trial; Ted Sherry declined to say how powerful the W76 warhead, currently being refurbished at Y12, was, but Brad filled in the gap—if it were exploded in lower Manhattan, “it would all be wiped out, probably every human, and a large number of people in Brooklyn. Every borough of New York City would be on fire. One thousand times the destructive power of Hiroshima.” Brad went on to note that Mr. Sherry did acknowledge the US possesses more than 5,000 of those bombs. Noting Russia maintains a similar arsenal and “untold others” held by other nations, Brad said, “The machine is in place for total destruction of the entire human race. We’re not talking about cities that can be rebuilt; we’re talking about wiping out the human race. Y12 contributes to this machine through the work of refurbishing nuclear warheads. This is reality.”


Then Brad got to the heart of his argument, noting the judge would not permit a jury to hear it. He gave the judge and the prosecutor a copy of his paper, “The Flaw of Deterrence,” which applies the science of probability assessment to the argument of deterrence. “The probability approaches certainty over time.” The fact that it is impossible to know when is tantamount to playing Russian roulette with a revolver that holds an unknown number of bullets. “To play once is irrational,” Brad noted. “And this is the situation with nuclear weapons.”


Coming to a close, Brad said, “Our action was completely justified and necessary to keep the human species from destroying itself. I hope you will take that into consideration; the jury had no chance to hear it.”


After the morning session, the judge summoned Brad’s assigned counsel, Kim Tollison, to chambers for a chat. Kim subsequently spent twenty minutes locked in the conference room with Brad. The upshot was the judge indicated he would not put Brad in prison if Brad would promise not to do it again. But Brad would make no such promise.


Instead, citing his age and health concerns, Brad allowed as how he has no plans at the current time to engage in similar actions at Y12. We held our breath waiting to see if the judge would  push for a promise.


Instead, the judge declared a sentence of one year probation, the first month to be served on home confinement. Drug tests were waived. And with that, court was adjourned. In the gallery, the audience danced little celebratory dances.




  1. “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”-Rev. MLK, Jr.

    Thank you Steve, all the Y-12 Thirteen and everyone anywhere for respecting God’s law-‘Thou shall NOT kill” and for being children of HOPE as understood by St. Augustine: “HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it.”

    You all are the Conscience ‘civilized men’ ignore:

    “You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased…to obey the laws of life.”-Lewis Mumford, 1946

    In Solidarity YES WE CAN begin the world again and Godspeed on it,

    Eileen Fleming, a Citizen of CONSCIENCE for House of Representatives 2012

  2. Kim Bergier says:

    Eileen, thanks for your comments with such good quotes!

    Ralph, THANKS for posting all these reports so quickly so those of us who are tracking the results of these Sentencings can know what is happening.

    A minor editing note is that the title of this page should be 20th September (not 19th).

    Peace, Kim

  3. Fr. Bob Cushing says:

    Dear Fellow Peacemakers:

    Thank you for the purity, the clarity, and the humility of your sacrifices for peace and your faithful nay-saying to the bomb with your lives. Your present prison time is a life-giving witness for me and for many.
    Normally I would have met you by now at the Irwin County Prison where some of you presently are. I have been blessed with the opportunity of being there for many of our previous previous prisoners of conscience. Ill health, hospitalization and then the need to extend care for my own parishioners “in extremis,” with Leukemia etc, have kept me from visiting the prison during the spring and summer of this year. Now I am going to be out of the country until late October so there will be no opportunity to see and visit you. I apologize for not being there with you, to pray with, to listen, assist and affirm your present witness.
    I tell my parishioners of your witness but they only think me odd to mention another universe which is outside of their own. Thus many do not understand how very small and interconnected this one beautiful and fragile world is. Thank you again for your affirmation of all that is holy by your faithful nay-saying at the Y-12 Plant, and your powerful witness for all life on the planet.
    Fr. Bob Cushing [sometime prison chaplain]
    St. Theresa Catholic Church
    807 South Third St.
    Cordele, GA 31015

  4. Rosalie Riegle says:

    God bless Brad and Steve and all the peacemakers for their eloquence. If one thousandths of one per cent of the people in our country could hear them, the outcry would be so loud that our government would be forced to act!

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