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Swift justice, after nearly two years, forthree peace activists who broke into a federal nuclear weapons facility in July 2012. Once inside the super-secure Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee -- they got in using wire cutters -- the three members of the Plowshares Christian pacifist movement painted peace slogans and threw human blood on the outside of a uranium-processing building. Then, while waiting for someone to show up and arrest them, they had a snack.


The three radicals, Sister Megan Rice, who turned 84 on Jan. 31, Michael Walli, 64, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 58, were convicted of "sabotage" although they did not actually break any machinery (and were not even wearing or throwing wooden shoes). Walli and Boertje-Obed were each sentenced to five years and two months, and Sister Rice was sentenced to 35 months, which should teach her a valuable lesson about messing with Uncle Sam.

Although the sentence may keep her in prison for what could be the rest of her life (we hope not!), Rice was asking for it. Quite literally:

During a four-hour hearing Tuesday, Rice pleaded with the judge not to grant her leniency.

"Please have no leniency on me," she said. "To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest honor you could give me."

Thapar didn't oblige but did say that breaking the law isn't the right way to pursue political goals. He said he hoped that a significant prison sentence would deter others from following the same path and bring them "back to the political system I fear that they have given up on."

Funny thing about motivated old nuns: they make terrific peace activists. We have a feeling she'll be spreading her dangerous radical ideas in prison, too. Whatever federal prison she's sent to is likely to see an immediate improvement in inmate literacy.

In addition to mounting a protest, of course, the group inadvertently did the government a favor by exposing huge flaws in the plant's security. The protestors were able to breach security and wander around inside for nearly two hours in what was supposed to be one of the nation's most secure nuclear facilities; following the protest, the Department of Energy removed the head of the guards at the plant and improved security overall, so that future nuns won't get quite as far into weapons plants. Oh, and maybe terrorists might have a harder time, too. Here's Rachel Maddow on the sentencing: