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LEGAL LOCKDOWN ON NDAA May 20, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in Social Environment, US Politics.
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Last Wednesday, a  district judge of the New York City found the National Defense Authorization Act, section 1021 to be “facially unconstitutional”.
The law, signed by the President, would have  allowed any president to indefinitely detain US citizens without charge or trial. Michael McAuliff at The Huffington Post reported:

The lead plaintiffs — Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges of the Nation Institute and Tangerine Bolen, who runs the website RevolutionTruth — argued that they conceivably could be grabbed under the law because they deal with sources that U.S. authorities may deem to fall under the law, Section 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

The law defines the suspects who can be detained as a “person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces.”

Forrest found the language too vague, and repeatedly tried to get government attorneys to say that the reporters’ fears were unfounded. The lawyers declined.

“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,” Forrest wrote. “Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.

“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,” Forrest wrote. “In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more.”

In The Guardian, Naomi Wolf commented:

This upholding of the US constitution and the rule of law is a triumphant moment, but a fragile one: Judge Forrest has asked Congress to clarify the language protecting America’s right to trial and the first amendment’s protections on speech and assembly. And now, Thursday, Representatives Adam Smith (Democrat, Washington) and Justin Amash (Republican, Michigan) have presented an amendment to Congress an amendment that does just that. Those who vote against it therefore will be voting clearly, and without any ambiguity, for stripping Americans of their constitutional rights and reducing them to the same potential status as “enemy combatants” and Guantánamo prisoners. The House thus votes for or against the power handed to the executive by the NDAA to hold any of us, anywhere, forever, for no reason. There can be no hiding from this; the lawyers defending the administration’s position made that perfectly clear.

What truly disturbed me in that courtroom was the terrible fragility of all the checks to power that are supposed to be in place to protect us against such assaults on democracy. Many senators, including my own, Chuck Schumer, had sent out letters to their own worried constituents flat-out denying our fears about what section 1021 does. No major news media organisations attended the original hearing (except Paul Harris of the Guardian and Observer). The trial and the NDAA itself have been so inadequately reported by mainstream outlets that I keep running into senior editors and lawyers who have never heard of it.

The success of this court action did not depend on the “watchdogs of democracy” but on lawyers working pro-bono and plaintiffs acting as concerned citizens. Media failure of this magnitude is simply overlooked on the basis of the argument that real journalism is superior blogging or other forms of online investigation. How often do newspapers contain journalistic investigation rather that repeat word for word press releases, wire service and reports in other publications, or provide commentary that is noticeably non-insightful or informed?.

At Truth dig, Chris Hedges, a plaintiff in the case, clarifies the situation following the ruling of Judge Forrest:

The government has 60 days to appeal. It can also, as Mayer and Afran have urged, accept the injunction that nullifies the law. If the government appeals, the case will go to a federal appellate court. The ruling, even if an appellate court upholds it, could be vanquished in the Supreme Court, especially given the composition of that court.

It is longer than I have to respond to a local government development application, but perhaps there is more at stake. Chris Hedges concludes by writing:

. . .Totalitarian systems, to perpetuate themselves, always seek to break autonomy and self-determination. This makes all acts of resistance a threat, even those acts that will not succeed. And this is why in all states that rule by force any act of rebellion, even one that is insignificant, must be ruthlessly crushed. The goal of the corporate state, like that of any totalitarian entity, is to create a society where no one has the capacity to resist.

It is not going to get better. The climate crisis alone will assure that. The corporate state knows what is coming. Globalization is breaking down. Our natural resources are being depleted. Economic and political upheavals are inevitable. And our corporate rulers are preparing a world of masters and serfs, a world where repression will be our daily diet, a world of hunger and riots, a world of brutal control and a world where our spirits must be broken. We have to stop asking what is reasonable or practical, what the Democratic Party or the government can do for us, what will work or not work. We must refuse now to make any concessions, large or small. We must remember that the lesser of two evils is still evil. We must no longer let illusions pacify us. Hell is truth seen too late. In large and small ways we are called to resist, resist, resist, as we race heedlessly into the abyss.

So why were the Media so acquiescent to this legislation?

Cenk Uygur explains the ruling:

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