Federal prosecutors filed a brief Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Brunswick, Georgia, addressing and suggesting the court reject the Kings Bay Plowshares’ claims that their alleged break-in and vandalism of Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay was covered as a protected religious observance under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The two standards the federal government needs to meet under RFRA are that there’s a “compelling governmental interest” for potentially violating someone’s sincerely held beliefs, and that the government should use “the least restrictive means” in fulfilling that interest.
One of the cases the prosecution sites in a 2016 matter out of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the appellate court upheld the convictions of a Hawaii couple that, while authorized as the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry to provide marijuana to its adherents, the ministry was not allowed to divert that weed to non-affiliated recreational users.
“The government disputes that defendants’ professed beliefs regarding ‘symbolic denuclearization’ are actually religious in nature,” according to the brief. “Even assuming defendants have made such a showing, the government could not achieve its compelling interest in protecting Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, a sensitive military installation, while exempting the defendants from complying with generally applicable laws against trespass and destruction of property.
“Prosecuting trespassers who enter the base for an unlawful purpose is the least restrictive means for the government to protect that interest.”
Bill Quigley — an attorney for the defense and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans — asserted during the Aug. 2 hearing that the government could have seen fit to punish the Plowshares defendants by a civil penalty or pretrial diversion, which would be considered lesser than the criminal charges they face.
The seven defendants are all charged with conspiracy, destruction of property on a naval installation, depredation of government property and trespassing. They are accused of cutting away a fence at Kings Bay, going onto the grounds, vandalizing and going to the administration building, the D5 Missile monument installation and nuclear weapons storage bunkers.
Through a news release and in their filings, the defendants essentially admit to committing the acts accused, but assert those acts were not illegal under the circumstances.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — An enlisted Navy SEAL sniper testified on Wednesday that Chief Eddie Gallagher told his platoon prior to their deployment that if they ever captured a wounded fighter, their medics knew "what to do to nurse them to death."
In early morning testimony, former Special Operator 1st Class Dylan Dille told a packed courtroom that he had heard the phrase during unit training before the men of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon deployed to Mosul, Iraq in 2017.
A Navy SEAL sentenced to one year in prison for the death of Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar is under investigation for allegedly flirting with Melgar's widow while using a false name and trying to persuade her that he and another SEAL accused of killing her husband were "really good guys," according to the Washington Post.
Army Staff Sgt. Albert Leon Mampre, who served during World War II with the famed Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division depicted in the HBO series 'Band of Brothers,' was laid to rest on June 15th, the Army announced
Mampre, who died on May 31 at 97 years old, was the last living medic from Easy Company, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. A number of soldiers assigned to his unit provided an honor guard for his funeral service.
In his seven months as legislative assistant to the commandant of the Marine Corps, Brig. Gen. Norman Cooling proved to be an abusive, bullying boss, who openly disparaged women, ruled through intimidation, and attempted to spread a rumor about a female officer after the Senate complained about him to the defense secretary, according to a Defense Department's Inspector General's Office investigation.
"The adjectives a majority of witnesses used to describe his leadership were abusive, bullying, toxic, abrasive, and aggressive,"a DoD IG report on the investigation into Cooling's conduct found. "Some subordinates considered him an 'equal opportunity offender,' disparaging men and women. BGen Cooling denied making some of the comments attributed to him, but more than one witness told us they heard him make each of the comments described in this section of our report."