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 Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More