Throws out case against provision that could see Americans kidnapped by government without charge
April 30, 2014
The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal against the clause of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which, the plaintiffs argue, allows for indefinite detention of Americans by the military.
The case has been ongoing for two years, but ultimately ended in defeat Monday as the highest court effectively killed off the lawsuit, despite previous district court declarations that the legislation is harmful to the First Amendment and that Americans worried about being militarily detained had a “reasonable fear”.
In a statement, Tangerine Bolen, one of the plaintiffs said “We are no longer a nation ruled by laws.”
“We are nation ruled by men who have so steeped themselves in a false narrative that at the same time they are exponentially increasing the ranks of terrorists, they are destroying the rule of law itself. It is madness upon madness—the classic tale of becoming the evil you purport to fight while believing you remain righteous.” Bolen added.
The case was brought by a group of journalists led by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Chris Hedges. Hedges, one of the few real respectable liberal voices, was also joined in his efforts by Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.
Hedges appeared on The Alex Jones Show in 2012 to discuss his efforts against the NDAA.
The provision under Section 1021 of the NDAA effectively gives the executive branch of government full authority to have the military detain anyone suspected of providing “substantial and/or direct support” to terrorists. The detention period is vaguely authorised as “until the end of hostilities”. The provision claims that such action is justifiably lawful under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was enacted three days after 9/11.
Essentially, section 1021 could see American citizens kidnapped and held indefinitely without charge, a violation of Constitutional rights.
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 for reporters to associate with individuals or groups labeled enemies by the government. They argued that the law was unconstitutional because it could see journalists abducted and detained merely for speaking their minds.
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 AUMF, as interpreted by judges in Guantánamo Bay habeas corpus cases.
In her statement regarding the Supreme Court defeat, Bolen also noted “This battle is lost but the war is not over. Arab Spring and Occupy showed us that it is possible for millions of people to stand up together, to awaken a shared commitment to a better future.”
“They were a reminder that all things are possible—not just assaults, lies, corruption and the slow devastation wrought on us by the world’s most powerful elites—but a spontaneous rising up, to reclaim our power, our voices and our futures.”
The other plaintiffs, including Hedges himself, are yet to comment on the outcome.
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, it was the Obama administration that demanded the removal of language that would have protected Americans from being subject to indefinite detention.
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.
“The deterioration of civil liberties under the Obama administration has complete continuity with the attack on civil liberties under the Bush administration,” Hedges told hundreds of supporters last year outside the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan. “In fact, under the Obama administration it has been worse. The radical interpretation of the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act [AUMF] has given the U.S. government, in particular the executive branch, the right to assassinate American citizens.”
Steve Watson is a 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, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.