Judge declares the NDAA unconstitutional, NDAA explained
by etc, etc, etc...
Is America, the land of the free…really proposing a piece of legislation that can detain political dissenters, in the guise of national security? Is 1021 supposed to appear as another patriotic act to defend the homeland, or it something more sinister? Obamas attorneys’ and their willingness to assure the judge that seven of our prominent and peaceful political activists would not be detained under the NDAA makes me believe so. You be the judge.
Here is my own dumified version of what is going on, and some of what I though are the more significant excerpts taken from theguardian.com:
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed unnoticed on New Years Eve by our President Obama, is a provision that grants the U.S military the right to detain ANYONE it suspects of involvement in “terroristic activity.” More specifically , section 1021 in the NDAA is a small but key paragraph in the 565 page document that permits the military to detain anyone it suspects to be “substantially supporting” al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces.”
Two weeks after the president signed the bill, Chris Hedges, ( spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years) filed a lawsuit against Obama, alongside other prominent high-profile activists, scholars and politicians.
Shockingly U.S District Judge Katherine ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and against the government and temporarily blocked 1021 on the grounds that the statute failed to “pass constitutional muster” because its broad language could be used to quash political dissent and because it infringes upon constitutional rights.
The judge noted that she had been persuaded by what the lead plaintiffs – who include Pulitzer prize-winner Chris Hedges of the Nation Institute, editor Jennifer Bolen of RevolutionTruth, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, co-founder of Occupy London Kai Wargalla, Days of Rage editor Alexa O’Brien, and the Icelandic parliamentarian and WikiLeaks activist Birgitta Jónsdóttir – had argued. In their testimonies, these plaintiffs compiled a persuasive case that they had “standing” to sue because it was reasonable for them to worry that they could conceivably could be detained indefinitely under the section 1021 law because their work requires them to have contact with sources the US government might assert were “terrorists” or “associated forces” of al-Qaida.
Forrest asked frepeatedly, in a variety of different ways, for the government attorneys to give her some, any assurance that the wording of section 1021 could not be used to arrest and detain people like the plaintiffs. Finally she asked for assurance that it could not be used to sweep up a hypothetical peaceful best-selling nonfiction writer who had written a hypothetical book criticizing US foreign policy, along lines that the Taliban might agree with. Again and again, the two lawyers said directly that they could not, or would not, give her those assurances. In other words, this back-and-forth confirmed what people such as Glenn Greenwald, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the ACLU and others have been shouting about since January: section 1012 was knowingly written in order to give the president these powers; and his lawyers were sent into that courtroom precisely to defeat the effort to challenge them. Forrest concluded:”At the hearing on this motion, the government was unwilling or unable to state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention under [section] 1021. Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.” Forrest further observed:
“An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so. In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more.”
“In addition, it is certainly the case that if plaintiffs were detained as a result of their conduct, they could be detained until the cessation of hostilities – i.e., an indeterminate period of time,” Forrest continued. “Being subjected to the risk of such detention, particularly in light of the Government’s inability to represent that plaintiffs’ conduct does not fall with § 1021, must constitute a threat of irreparable harm. The question then is: Is that harm immediate? Since the Government will not say that the conduct does not fall outside of §1021, one cannot predict immediacy one way or the other. It is the responsibility of our judicial system to protect the public from acts of Congress which infringe upon constitutional rights. As set forth above, this court has found that plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits regarding their constitutional claim and it therefore has a responsibility to insure that the public’s constitutional rights are protected.”