Obama’s emergency stay on NDAA block extended
Oct 3, 2012
A federal appeals court has ruled that the US government can still indefinitely detain citizens should it wish to do so, under the Obama Administration’s National Defense Authorization Act.
The ruling came in the form of an extension of an “emergency” stay of a district court judge’s order that had previously struck down the defence bill’s provisions altogether.
Last month District Judge Katherine Forrest permanently blocked the NDAA provision, saying that “First Amendment rights have already been harmed and will be harmed by the prospect of (the law) being enforced.”
However, the very next day the Obama administration moved to appeal the decision in an attempt to reinstate the indefinite detention provisions. The administration characterized the ruling by Forrest as unconstitutional.
Federal judge in New York, Raymond Lohier, then granted the Obama administration an “emergency” stay that temporarily blocks Forrest’s ruling.
Late yesterday, a three-judge motions panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit extended that stay, supporting the administration’s appeal and intimating that Forrest’s ruling is flawed.
“We conclude that the public interest weighs in favor of granting the government’s motion for a stay,” Appeals Court Judges Denny Chin, Raymond Lohier and Christopher Droney wrote in a three-page order that also expedited the appeal.
All three judges on the panel were appointed to the appeals court by Obama.
The order continues:
First, in its memorandum of law in support of its motion, the government clarifies unequivocally that, ‘based on their stated activities,’ plaintiffs, ‘journalists and activists[,] . . . are in no danger whatsoever of ever being captured and detained by the U.S. military.’
Second, on its face, the statute does not affect the existing rights of United States citizens or other individuals arrested in the United States. See NDAA § 1021(e) (‘Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.’).
Third, the language of the district court’s injunction appears to go beyond NDAA § 1021 itself and to limit the government’s authority under the Authorization for Use of Military Force…
Concerned Americans have argued that the NDAA provision could see American citizens kidnapped and held indefinitely without charge.
The lawsuit that Judge Forrest ruled on was brought by activists and journalists, including former New York Times columnist Chris Hedges, who argued that the law was unconstitutional because it could see journalists abducted and detained merely for speaking their minds.
Hedges and the other plaintiffs successfully argued that some provisions of the indefinite detention clause are so vague they would chill free speech and restrict the ability to associate with individuals or groups labeled enemies by the government.
Critics have argued that the provisions also violate the Fifth Amendment, which specifically mentions due process of law, and the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment which states that all people be treated the same under the law.
“This pernicious law poses one of the greatest threats to civil liberties in our nation’s history,” writes Brian J. Trautman. Under AUMF, “this law can be used by authorities to detain (forever) anyone the government considers a threat to national security and stability – potentially even demonstrators and protesters exercising their First Amendment rights.”
The federal government argues that the National Defense Authorization Act did not expand its authority beyond what already existed under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) , as interpreted by judges in Guantánamo Bay habeas corpus cases.
As we have documented throughout the course of the NDAA controversy, despite Obama issuing a signing statement promising not to use the indefinite detention provisions against U.S. citizens, his administration specifically pushed for those provisions to be applied to U.S. citizens in the first place.
As the NDAA’s co-sponsor Senator Carl Levin said during a speech on the floor in December, it was the Obama administration that demanded the removal of language that would have protected Americans from being subject to indefinite detention.
“The language which precluded the application of Section 1031 to American citizens was in the bill that we originally approved…and the administration asked us to remove the language which says that U.S. citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section,” said Levin, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
“It was the administration that asked us to remove the very language which we had in the bill which passed the committee…we removed it at the request of the administration,” said Levin, emphasizing, “It was the administration which asked us to remove the very language the absence of which is now objected to.”
In attempting to include the entire United States as a battleground under the NDAA, the Obama administration is merely extending its already established policy of targeting American citizens worldwide for state-sponsored assassination with no legal process whatsoever.
Given that the White House is already executing this policy at the global level, it’s no surprise that they are also keen to enforce it domestically
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.