News / USA

Journalists Prepare US Supreme Court Fight Against Indefinite Detention

FILE - Occupy Wall Street activist Lauren Digioia is detained by police during a demonstration against the National Defense Authorization Act in New York's Grand Central Station, Jan. 3, 2012.
FILE - Occupy Wall Street activist Lauren Digioia is detained by police during a demonstration against the National Defense Authorization Act in New York's Grand Central Station, Jan. 3, 2012.
A group of journalists and activists are preparing to challenge a U.S. court decision upholding the Obama administration’s ability to indefinitely detain individuals. The ruling, plaintiffs say, deals a blow to civil liberties in the name of national security, and could even be used to detain U.S. citizens without due process.

An appeals court in New York this week ruled the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found the law “says nothing at all about the President’s authority to detain American citizens,” as argued by the plaintiffs. It also said the non-citizen plaintiffs “failed to establish standing because they have not shown a sufficient threat that the government will detain them under Section 1021.”

Wednesday’s decision hands a victory to the U.S. government, upholding its ability to indefinitely detain people considered enemy combatants, or individuals considered to have provided support to them.

Guilt by association?

The ruling struck down a district court injunction that had sided with the plaintiffs, who contend Section 1021 is a significant expansion of the president's military detention authority. The plaintiffs, many of whom have interviewed militants and terrorist suspects, say they fear "the government may construe their work as having substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces."

The plaintiff’s attorney, Bruce Afran, said Friday he will be filing an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“I am troubled by this decision as part of a series of court decisions in which the courts are refusing to take on civil liberties abuses and overreach by the federal government,” Afran said.

The plaintiffs say the wording of the NDAA is conveniently vague, so that it could be interpreted to include U.S. citizens or not. Afran added it seems impossible his clients “don’t have an objective fear that the law could be used against them.”

“My clients are not extremists. They’re writers and journalists who’ve had contacts with these groups to understand who they are,” he said.

Among the plaintiffs are journalist Christopher Hedges, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, RevolutionTruth founder Jennifer "Tangerine" Bolen, writer and activist Noam Chomsky, journalist Alexa O’Brien, activist Kai Wargalla and Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir.

When Hedges, a war correspondent who has interviewed members of al-Qaida and the Taliban, first filed his lawsuit in January 2012, he suggested Section 1021 of the NDAA could have a chilling effect on the First Amendment, which protects free speech and freedom of the press.

The Pulitzer Prize winner reacted to the Appeals Court decision with disdain.

“It means there is no recourse now either within the executive, legislative or judicial branches of government to halt the steady assault on our civil liberties and most basic Constitutional rights,” Hedges said in a statement to TruthDig, where he is a columnist.

He suggested the NDAA has helped blur the lines between domestic policing and military counter-terrorism operations.

“It means that the state can use the military, overturning over two centuries of domestic law, to use troops on the streets to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers,” he wrote.

Liberty vs law enforcement

Katherine Forrest, the U.S. district judge who originally sided with the plaintiffs, addressed the balance between liberty and law enforcement in her September 12, 2012 ruling.

“Does the public have a greater interest in preservation of its First Amendment and due process rights that are infringed by [section 1021 of the NDAA], or in having the statute potentially available for use by law enforcement authorities?” she asked.

Forrest blocked the implementation of the act on indefinite detention, saying the public has a “strong and undoubted interest in the clear preservation of First and Fifth Amendment rights.”

The Fifth Amendment protects against the abuse of government authority and upholds a person’s right to the due process of law.

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. passed a series of laws to give law enforcement agencies greater ability to gather intelligence on, and take action against, alleged terrorist threats. The National Defense Authorization Act, which outlines the Defense Department budget and spending plan, is part of that effort.

President Barack Obama signed the act in 2012, he said, “with serious reservations” about provisions related to the treatment of terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay. At the signing, he also addressed concerns about the treatment of U.S. citizens.

“My Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation,” he said. “My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.”

The U.S. government has not said whether it has held any U.S. citizen under section 1021 of the NDAA.

Read the full court document:
 

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid