Thursday, May 17, 2012

Federal judge strikes down indefinite detention provisions in NDAA

Christ, this feels good. I mean yeah, an amendment to the constitution may have just been restored, I'm gonna get to that, but I really want to circlejerk and rub this in first. For months, Obama-can-do-no-wrong neoliberals have been telling leftists and civil libertarians that there was nothing wrong with the NDAA. Obama signing some half-assed "trust me!" statement made everything all good. And soon after that, when he signed a "veto" which wasn't really a veto, but what really just amounted to another meaningless statement, progressives latched onto that as well, and proceeded to tell the rest of us to shut up and "come home again."

This is very, very, very big news.

Yet Naomi Wolf published in the U.K. Guardian on the eve of the decision as if Obama had not issed the waiver rules - as if indefinite military detentions of U.S. citizens was about to become mandatory, thanks to Obama.


Has Naomi Wolf published any retraction? This is big news. No.


Considering that Obama's signing of NDAA led to a hysterical exodus of low-info Democratic and Independent support that probably measurably lowered his approval ratings, and could threaten his re-election - for not somehow magically line-item vetoing the Cheney-esque provision in the annual military funding bill - it is very disturbing that the media has played down what amounts to a very clever legal “3,450-word line-item veto” that he has achieved.

Obama made good on a promise he made in November when he threatened to veto...

Well guess what, asshole? If there was nothing shady left in the NDAA, then a federal judge wouldn't have just fucking struck it down as unconstitutional. You were wrong. I just needed to say that before I got started.

Okay so a few months back, journalist Chris Hedges decided to sue the Obama administration over the NDAA. This is that case. And he actually won. This case brought together an epic supergroup of all my favorite intellectuals/activists to testify as plaintiffs. In addition to the involvement of Hedges, there was also Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf, Cornel West, and pentagon papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who all testified.

It's not over yet. The Obama administration has 60 days to appeal, which will probably happen. But at this moment, those fascist provisions cannot be enforced. We still have to wait and see what's going to happen though. I'm a little hopeful though, which is weird, because I haven't felt that in a while.

Amy Goodman interviewed Hedges on Democracy Now this morning. Here's that video. Plus, I pulled some of the most worrying quotes out of the interview from the transcript, in case you don't have time to watch right now. Emphasis mine.

BRUCE AFRAN: Well, it’s quite incredible, in a sense, because it’s rare that statutes are struck down completely. Judge Forrest struck down the entire provision of the NDAA governing indefinite detention of civilians and U.S. citizens. She said this provision is overbroad. She said it clearly embraces speech, even if it doesn’t intend to. And she criticized the government severely, because it refused to acknowledge in court that First Amendment activities would not bring someone into a state of indefinite detention. And five times, Judge Forrest asked the U.S. attorney, "Will you agree that First Amendment activities will not bring someone under the scope of this law?" And the government five times said, "We can’t answer that question."


CHRIS HEDGES: And, you know, what’s interesting is, when you look at the polls, there’s almost no support for this piece of legislation at all. I think it’s about 70 percent oppose it. And yet, of course, once again, it passes with bipartisan support. The bill was sponsored by Carl Levin, a Democrat, and John McCain, a Republican. When Dianne Feinstein tried to insert language into the bill that would have exempted U.S. citizens from this process, it was rejected by both the Democratic Party and the Obama White House. And so, I think this is another window into not only the sort of steady assault against civil liberties, whether that’s the use of the Espionage Act, the FISA Amendment Act, the Authorization to Use Military Force Act itself, the PATRIOT Act. And what makes what happened yesterday so monumental is that, finally, we have a federal judge who stands up for the rule of law.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, President Obama signed it, but he was opposed by key members of his administration—for example, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta—


AMY GOODMAN: —FBI Director Robert Mueller, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

CHRIS HEDGES: That’s what’s so interesting. None of the Pentagon, the FBI, as you—Mueller and everyone else, as you pointed out—none of them supported the bill, even to the extent where Mueller and others were testifying before Congress that it would make their work more difficult. And yet it passes anyway. And it is a kind of—I think it’s a kind of mystery to the rest of us as to what are the forces that—when you have the security establishment publicly opposing it, what are the forces that are putting it in place? And I can only suppose that what they’re doing is setting up a kind of legal mechanism to criminalize any kind of dissent. And Bruce can speak to this a little more. But in the course of the trial, with Alexa O’Brien, US Day of Rage, that WikiLeaks dump of five million emails of the public security firm Stratfor, we saw in those email correspondence an attempt to link US Day of Rage with al-Qaeda. Once they link you with a terrorist group, then these draconian forms of control can be used against legitimate forms of protest, and particularly the Occupy movement.

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