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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs