Chris Hedges: The NDAA & the death of the democratic stateFebruary 11, 2013
On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who “substantially support”—an undefined legal term—al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until “the end of hostilities.” In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent, according to Section (c)(4), to any “foreign country or entity.” This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth.
Section 1021(b)(2) was declared invalid in September after our first trial, in the Southern District Court of New York. The Obama administration appealed the Southern District Court ruling. The appeal was heard Wednesday in the Second Circuit Court with Judges Raymond J. Lohier, Lewis A. Kaplan and Amalya L. Kearse presiding. The judges might not make a decision until the spring when the Supreme Court rules in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, another case in which I am a plaintiff. The Supreme Court case challenges the government’s use of electronic surveillance. If we are successful in the Clapper case, it will strengthen all the plaintiffs’ standing in Hedges v. Obama. The Supreme Court, if it rules against the government, will affirm that we as plaintiffs have a reasonable fear of being detained.
If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.
“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Projectaudience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’ ” [To see videos of Mayer, Afran, Hedges and other participating in the Culture Project panel discussion, click here.]
Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.
But the global corporatists—who have created a new species of totalitarianism—demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed.
Robert M. Loeb, the lead attorney for the government in Wednesday’s proceedings, took a tack very different from that of the government in the Southern District Court of New York before Judge Katherine B. Forrest. Forrest repeatedly asked the government attorneys if they could guarantee that the other plaintiffs and I would not be subject to detention under Section 1021(b)(2). The government attorneys in the first trial granted no such immunity. The government also claimed in the first trial that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF), it already had the power to detain U.S. citizens. Section 1021(b)(2), the attorneys said, did not constitute a significant change in government power. Judge Forrest in September rejected the government’s arguments and ruled Section 1021(b)(2) invalid.
The government, however, argued Wednesday that as “independent journalists” we were exempt from the law and had no cause for concern. Loeb stated that if journalists used journalism as a cover to aid the enemy, they would be seized and treated as enemy combatants. But he assured the court that I would be untouched by the new law as long as “Mr. Hedges did not start driving black vans for people we don’t like.”
Loeb did not explain to the court who defines an “independent journalist.” I have interviewed members of al-Qaida as well as 16 other individuals or members of groups on the State Department’s terrorism list. When I convey these viewpoints, deeply hostile to the United States, am I considered by the government to be “independent”? Could I be seen by the security and surveillance state, because I challenge the official narrative, as a collaborator with the enemy? And although I do not drive black vans for people Loeb does not like, I have spent days, part of the time in vehicles, with armed units that are hostile to the United States. These include Hamas in Gaza and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey.
I traveled frequently with armed members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador and the Sandinista army in Nicaragua during the five years I spent in Central America. Senior officials in the Reagan administration regularly denounced many of us in the press as fifth columnists and collaborators with terrorists. These officials did not view us as “independent.” They viewed us as propagandists for the enemy. Section 1021(b)(2) turns this linguistic condemnation into legal condemnation.
Alexa O’Brien, another plaintiff and a co-founder of the US Day of Rage, learned after WikiLeaks released 5 million emails from Stratfor, a private security firm that does work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency, that Stratfor operatives were trying to link her and her organization to Islamic radicals, including al-Qaida, and sympathetic websites as well as jihadist ideology. If that link were made, she and those in her organization would not be immune from detention.
Afran said at the Culture Project discussion that he once gave a donation at a fundraising dinner to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic organization. A few months later, to his surprise, he received a note of thanks from Sinn Féin. “I didn’t expect to be giving money to a group that maintains a paramilitary terrorist organization, as some people say,” Afran said. “This is the danger. You can easily find yourself in a setting that the government deems worthy of incarceration. This is why people cease to speak out.”
Full article
The NDAA is a blatant attack on civil liberties, investigative journalists, dissent & free speech. Indefinite detention of US citizens in a military prison is a reality. 

Chris Hedges: The NDAA & the death of the democratic state
February 11, 2013

On Wednesday a few hundred activists crowded into the courtroom of the Second Circuit, the spillover room with its faulty audio feed and dearth of chairs, and Foley Square outside the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan where many huddled in the cold. The fate of the nation, we understood, could be decided by the three judges who will rule on our lawsuit against President Barack Obama for signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The section permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who “substantially support”—an undefined legal term—al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces,” again a term that is legally undefined. Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until “the end of hostilities.” In an age of permanent war this is probably a lifetime. Anyone detained under the NDAA can be sent, according to Section (c)(4), to any “foreign country or entity.” This is, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens. It empowers the government to ship detainees to the jails of some of the most repressive regimes on earth.

Section 1021(b)(2) was declared invalid in September after our first trial, in the Southern District Court of New York. The Obama administration appealed the Southern District Court ruling. The appeal was heard Wednesday in the Second Circuit Court with Judges Raymond J. Lohier, Lewis A. Kaplan and Amalya L. Kearse presiding. The judges might not make a decision until the spring when the Supreme Court rules in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, another case in which I am a plaintiff. The Supreme Court case challenges the government’s use of electronic surveillance. If we are successful in the Clapper case, it will strengthen all the plaintiffs’ standing in Hedges v. Obama. The Supreme Court, if it rules against the government, will affirm that we as plaintiffs have a reasonable fear of being detained.

If we lose in Hedges v. Obama—and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court—electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast.

“The stakes are very high,” said attorney Carl Mayer, who with attorney Bruce Afran brought our case to trial, in addressing a Culture Projectaudience in Manhattan on Wednesday after the hearing. “What our case comes down to is: Are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that is ingrained in the Constitution. It was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. What the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States in military prisons. Probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention until ‘the end of hostilities.’ ” [To see videos of Mayer, Afran, Hedges and other participating in the Culture Project panel discussion, click here.]

Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.

But the global corporatists—who have created a new species of totalitarianism—demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed.

Robert M. Loeb, the lead attorney for the government in Wednesday’s proceedings, took a tack very different from that of the government in the Southern District Court of New York before Judge Katherine B. Forrest. Forrest repeatedly asked the government attorneys if they could guarantee that the other plaintiffs and I would not be subject to detention under Section 1021(b)(2). The government attorneys in the first trial granted no such immunity. The government also claimed in the first trial that under the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act (AUMF), it already had the power to detain U.S. citizens. Section 1021(b)(2), the attorneys said, did not constitute a significant change in government power. Judge Forrest in September rejected the government’s arguments and ruled Section 1021(b)(2) invalid.

The government, however, argued Wednesday that as “independent journalists” we were exempt from the law and had no cause for concern. Loeb stated that if journalists used journalism as a cover to aid the enemy, they would be seized and treated as enemy combatants. But he assured the court that I would be untouched by the new law as long as “Mr. Hedges did not start driving black vans for people we don’t like.”

Loeb did not explain to the court who defines an “independent journalist.” I have interviewed members of al-Qaida as well as 16 other individuals or members of groups on the State Department’s terrorism list. When I convey these viewpoints, deeply hostile to the United States, am I considered by the government to be “independent”? Could I be seen by the security and surveillance state, because I challenge the official narrative, as a collaborator with the enemy? And although I do not drive black vans for people Loeb does not like, I have spent days, part of the time in vehicles, with armed units that are hostile to the United States. These include Hamas in Gaza and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey.

I traveled frequently with armed members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador and the Sandinista army in Nicaragua during the five years I spent in Central America. Senior officials in the Reagan administration regularly denounced many of us in the press as fifth columnists and collaborators with terrorists. These officials did not view us as “independent.” They viewed us as propagandists for the enemy. Section 1021(b)(2) turns this linguistic condemnation into legal condemnation.

Alexa O’Brien, another plaintiff and a co-founder of the US Day of Rage, learned after WikiLeaks released 5 million emails from Stratfor, a private security firm that does work for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency, that Stratfor operatives were trying to link her and her organization to Islamic radicals, including al-Qaida, and sympathetic websites as well as jihadist ideology. If that link were made, she and those in her organization would not be immune from detention.

Afran said at the Culture Project discussion that he once gave a donation at a fundraising dinner to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic organization. A few months later, to his surprise, he received a note of thanks from Sinn Féin. “I didn’t expect to be giving money to a group that maintains a paramilitary terrorist organization, as some people say,” Afran said. “This is the danger. You can easily find yourself in a setting that the government deems worthy of incarceration. This is why people cease to speak out.”

Full article

The NDAA is a blatant attack on civil liberties, investigative journalists, dissent & free speech. Indefinite detention of US citizens in a military prison is a reality. 

Human Rights Watch decries U.S. prison systemJanuary 31, 2013
Human Rights Watch Thursday published its annual World Report, in which it lays out a pointed critique of the U.S. prison system. The enormous prison population  — the largest in the world at 1.6 million — “partly reflects harsh sentencing practices contrary to international law,” notes the report.
The 2013 World Report, a 665-page tome which assesses human rights progress in the past year in 90 countries, highlights particular issues undergirding the U.S.’s blighted carceral system. It notes that “practices contrary to human rights principles, such as the death penalty, juvenile life-without-parole sentences, and solitary confinement are common and often marked by racial disparities.” Via HRW:

Research in 2012 found that the massive over-incarceration includes a growing number of elderly people whom prisons are ill-equipped to handle, and an estimated 93,000 youth under age 18 in adult jails and another 2,200 in adult prisons. Hundreds of children are subjected to solitary confinement. Racial and ethnic minorities remain disproportionately represented in the prison population.

HRW cite statistics often used to show racial disparities in the U.S. prison system. For example, while whites, African Americans and Latinos have comparable rates of drug use, African Americans are arrested for drug offenses, including possession, at three times the rate of white men.
“The United States has shown little interest in tackling abusive practices that have contributed to the country’s huge prison population,” said Maria McFarland, deputy U.S. program director at Human Rights Watch. “Unfortunately, it is society’s most vulnerable – racial and ethnic minorities, low-income people, immigrants, children, and the elderly – who are most likely to suffer from injustices in the criminal justice system.”
Although noting some progress in 2012 (both D.C. and Connecticut joined the ranks of 16 states to have abolished the death penalty), HRW also stressed continuing injustices in U.S. immigration policies, labor issues and treatment of minorities, women, the disabled and HIV positive individuals. The report was particularly critical when reviewing the U.S.’s counterterrorism policies. The NGO noted in a statement:


Both the Obama administration and Congress supported abusive counterterrorism laws and policies, including detention without charge at Guantanamo Bay, restrictions on the transfer of detainees held there, and prosecutions in a fundamentally flawed military commission system.  Attacks by US aerial drones were carried out in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere, with important legal questions about the attacks remaining unanswered.
The administration has taken no steps toward accountability for torture and other abuses committed by US officials in the so-called “war on terror,” and a Justice Department criminal investigation into detainee abuse concluded without recommending any charges. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence completed a more than 6,000-page report detailing the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program, but has yet to seek the report’s declassification so it can be released to the public.

The World Report explicitly mentions Obama’s signing of the NDAA in 2011 (an act he repeated this year), noting, “The act codified the existing executive practice of detaining terrorism suspects indefinitely without charge, and required that certain terrorism suspects be initially detained by the military if captured inside the U.S..”
Next week, the lawsuit against Obama over the NDAA’s definite detention provision will be back in federal court as plaintiffs including Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky seek an injunction prohibiting indefinite detention of civilians without charge or trial.
Comments from HRW’s McFarland point out what’s at stake for the president here: “The Obama administration has a chance in its second term to develop with Congress a real plan for closing Guantanamo and definitively ending abusive counterterrorism practices,” McFarland said. “A failure to do so puts Obama at risk of going down in history as the president who made indefinite detention without trial a permanent part of U.S. law.”
Source
The largest prison system in the world comes as a result of the continuing criminalization of Black & Brown youth, a failed war on drugs & poverty. This is how the New Jim Crow has manifested itself in communities of color all over the “land of the free”: 1.6 million prisoners & counting.

Human Rights Watch decries U.S. prison system
January 31, 2013

Human Rights Watch Thursday published its annual World Report, in which it lays out a pointed critique of the U.S. prison system. The enormous prison population  — the largest in the world at 1.6 million — “partly reflects harsh sentencing practices contrary to international law,” notes the report.

The 2013 World Report, a 665-page tome which assesses human rights progress in the past year in 90 countries, highlights particular issues undergirding the U.S.’s blighted carceral system. It notes that “practices contrary to human rights principles, such as the death penalty, juvenile life-without-parole sentences, and solitary confinement are common and often marked by racial disparities.” Via HRW:

Research in 2012 found that the massive over-incarceration includes a growing number of elderly people whom prisons are ill-equipped to handle, and an estimated 93,000 youth under age 18 in adult jails and another 2,200 in adult prisons. Hundreds of children are subjected to solitary confinement. Racial and ethnic minorities remain disproportionately represented in the prison population.

HRW cite statistics often used to show racial disparities in the U.S. prison system. For example, while whites, African Americans and Latinos have comparable rates of drug use, African Americans are arrested for drug offenses, including possession, at three times the rate of white men.

“The United States has shown little interest in tackling abusive practices that have contributed to the country’s huge prison population,” said Maria McFarland, deputy U.S. program director at Human Rights Watch. “Unfortunately, it is society’s most vulnerable – racial and ethnic minorities, low-income people, immigrants, children, and the elderly – who are most likely to suffer from injustices in the criminal justice system.”

Although noting some progress in 2012 (both D.C. and Connecticut joined the ranks of 16 states to have abolished the death penalty), HRW also stressed continuing injustices in U.S. immigration policies, labor issues and treatment of minorities, women, the disabled and HIV positive individuals. The report was particularly critical when reviewing the U.S.’s counterterrorism policies. The NGO noted in a statement:

Both the Obama administration and Congress supported abusive counterterrorism laws and policies, including detention without charge at Guantanamo Bay, restrictions on the transfer of detainees held there, and prosecutions in a fundamentally flawed military commission system.  Attacks by US aerial drones were carried out in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere, with important legal questions about the attacks remaining unanswered.

The administration has taken no steps toward accountability for torture and other abuses committed by US officials in the so-called “war on terror,” and a Justice Department criminal investigation into detainee abuse concluded without recommending any charges. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence completed a more than 6,000-page report detailing the CIA’s rendition, detention, and interrogation program, but has yet to seek the report’s declassification so it can be released to the public.

The World Report explicitly mentions Obama’s signing of the NDAA in 2011 (an act he repeated this year), noting, “The act codified the existing executive practice of detaining terrorism suspects indefinitely without charge, and required that certain terrorism suspects be initially detained by the military if captured inside the U.S..”

Next week, the lawsuit against Obama over the NDAA’s definite detention provision will be back in federal court as plaintiffs including Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky seek an injunction prohibiting indefinite detention of civilians without charge or trial.

Comments from HRW’s McFarland point out what’s at stake for the president here: “The Obama administration has a chance in its second term to develop with Congress a real plan for closing Guantanamo and definitively ending abusive counterterrorism practices,” McFarland said. “A failure to do so puts Obama at risk of going down in history as the president who made indefinite detention without trial a permanent part of U.S. law.”

Source

The largest prison system in the world comes as a result of the continuing criminalization of Black & Brown youth, a failed war on drugs & poverty. This is how the New Jim Crow has manifested itself in communities of color all over the “land of the free”: 1.6 million prisoners & counting.

5 ways Obama is just like George W. BushJanuary 15, 2013
On President Barack Obama’s second full day in the Oval Office in 2009, he signed important executive orders that signaled a clear break with the excesses of George W. Bush’s “war on terror.” Obama decreed that the Guantanamo Bay prison camp would be closed in a year and that the United States would no longer perpetrate torture. No longer would men, some of them innocent, languish without charges in what has been described as an American gulag by Amnesty International. No longer would men be subjected to brutal interrogation tactics that clearly amounted to torture, like water boarding.
The orders would “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism,” said Obama.
Fast-forward to today. Guantanamo remains open, warrantless wiretapping continues, and drone strikes have accelerated, leading to the deaths of innocent civilians and a burst in support for anti-American forces in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. Instead of breaking with the Bush era, Obama has codified and permanently institutionalized the “war on terror” framework that has characterized American foreign policy since the September 11, 2001 attacks. And they have done all of this largely in secret, refusing to open up about how drone strikes are decided on. So while torture has been thrown out of the American playbook, other black marks remain. Obama has done everything but restore “core constitutional values” to how the U.S. conducts itself around the world.
Perhaps the most potent symbol of Obama’s willingness to institutionalize Bush-era frameworks for dealing with terrorism is his January 2013 appointment of John Brennan as new Central Intelligence Agency director. Brennan was a key supporter of many Bush-favored tactics used by the CIA, including torture and extraordinary rendition. When Obama first contemplated appointing Brennan in his first term to the post he’s been appointed to now, the outcry was swift and Brennan pulled out from consideration. Now, the reaction has been meek—a symbol of how Bush-era military and intelligence tactics have become normalized to the extent that nobody bats an eye when a man with a sordid record at the CIA is appointed to head up the entire agency.

Obama has kept the U.S. on a permanent war footing with no end in sight through a variety of methods. Here are five ways the Obama administration has institutionalized the never-ending war on terror.
1. Drones
The image of the gray, pilotless aircraft flying through the sky to eventually rain hellfire down will be indelibly tied to Obama. His administration has made drone strikes in countries like Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan the weapon of choice when it comes to dealing with suspected militants. You have to look at the numbers of drone strikes under the Bush and Obama administrations to truly appreciate how Obama has taken this Bush tool and increased its use exponentially.
The first drone strike in U.S. history occurred in 2002, when a CIA-operated drone fired on three men in Afghanistan. The drone strikes have since migrated over to battlefields away from U.S.-declared wars. In Pakistan, the Bush administration carried out a total of 52 strikes, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which closely tracks drone strikes. That led to the deaths of an estimated 438 people, including 182 civilians and 112 children. But the Obama administration has ordered at least 300 drone strikes in Pakistan—and Obama’s second term has yet to begun. Those strikes have killed about 2,152 people, including 290 civilians, of whom 64 were children.
The drone strikes also have a devastating impact beyond the deaths reported. As a New York University/Stanford University study on drone strikes stated, the constant buzzing of drones in the sky “terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.”
Instead of looking forward to how this permanent drone war might end, the Obama administration has decided to institutionalize the process. In October 2012, the Washington Post revealed that the administration had undertaken a two-year long strategy to institutionalize what has become known as the “kill list,” or the list of suspected terrorists the Obama administration unilaterally decides to kill by drone strikes. The administration calls it the “disposition matrix,” which refers to the different plans the administration has to “dispose” of suspected militants. The Post described the “matrix” as part of “the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war.”
2. Warrantless Wiretapping
One of the enduring scandals of the George W. Bush years was that administration’s practice of wiretapping American citizens with no warrant in order to spy on suspected terrorists. TheNew York Times, which broke the story in 2005, reported that “months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying.” The move raised concerns that the Bush administration was crossing constitutional limits on wiretapping Americans.
But the outcry from those concerned with civil liberties has largely been muted in the Obama era. In late December 2012, President Obama signed an extension of a law that allows the U.S. to “eavesdrop on communications and review email without following an open and public warrant process,” as NPR summed it up. The law was an extension of the 2008 law that legalized the Bush administration’s wiretapping of American citizens.
As national security blogger Marcy Wheeler notes in a recent piece for the Nation, the president’s signature on the new bill on wiretapping means that the U.S. “has nearly unrestrained authority to eavesdrop on those who communicate with people outside the country. The government doesn’t even need to show that these foreign targets are terrorists or that the conversations center around a plot. This means any international communication may be subject to wiretapping.”
3. Proxy Detentions
Under the Bush administration, the process of “extraordinary rendition” involved abducting people accused of terrorism and shipping them off to another country where they were interrogated and tortured. The Obama administration has continued to use foreign countries to detain and interrogate suspects, but the details of how they do it are changed from the Bush era. Still, the overall practice of using other security forces to do your dirty work remains in place.
The Washington Postreported on January 1 that “the Obama administration has embraced rendition — the practice of holding and interrogating terrorism suspects in other countries without due process — despite widespread condemnation of the tactic in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” While the Post used the term “rendition,” the more accurate term would be “proxy detention,” as Mother Jones pointed out.
The most recent iterations of the practice of using other countries to detain suspects the U.S. wants to interrogate have been in countries like Dijibouti and Nigeria. The Post reported on one December 2011 case in which an man from Eritrea “revealed that he had been questioned in a Ni­ger­ian jail by what a U.S. interrogator described as a ‘dirty’ team of American agents who ignored the suspect’s right to remain silent or have a lawyer, according to court proceedings.”
Other cases have been publicized by Mother Jones. The magazine reported on the case of Yonas Fikre, a Muslim-American from Oregon who was detained in the United Arab Emirates. There, Fikre and his lawyers claim, he was beaten and held in stress positions. He claims there was cooperation between the FBI and UAE security forces. So the FBI was using the UAE forces to detain people the U.S. wanted to interrogate.
4. Guantanamo
Although the continued operation of the Guantanamo Bay camp is hardly the sole fault of President Obama, it does symbolize the abject failure to reject the Bush administration’s approach to terrorism.
While it’s important to note that the Republican Party has blocked Obama’s desire to close Guantanamo, he has not expended political capital on closing the prison and has signed bills that restrict his ability to do so. The most recent bill concerning Guantanamo Bay crossed his desk at the beginning of the year.
Despite threatening to veto the bill because it restricted the executive branch’s authority, Obama signed it, and curtailed his own ability to move ahead on closing the infamous camp, where people have languished without charge for years on end. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, where the Guantanamo provisions are included, restricts “the transfer of detainees into the United States for any purpose, including trials in federal court. It also requires the defense secretary to meet rigorous conditions before any detainee can be returned to his own country or resettled in a third country,” according to theWashington Post.
Human rights activists blasted the move. “Indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo is illegal, unsustainable and against U.S. national security interests, and it needs to end,” Human Rights Watch’s Andrea Prasow told the Post. “The administration should not continue to just blame Congress. President Obama should follow through on his earlier commitments and make the effort to overcome the transfer restrictions.”
5. Indefinite Detention
This issue, over all the others, says loud and clear that the Obama administration is preparing for an endless war on terror.
Domestically, indefinite detention reared its ugly head back in December 2011, when President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, a defense funding bill. Included in the bill was a provision allowing for indefinite military detention without charge or trial. Despite concerns raised by civil liberties activists, Obama signed the bill into law, although an executive signing statement vowed that the president would “not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”
That has not allayed the concerns of civil liberties groups. The American Civil Liberties Union states: “The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield….Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again.”
While no American citizens have been detained under the law yet, indefinite detention has been a hallmark of the war in Afghanistan. Thousands of detainees have remained in Bagram Air Field, including non-Afghan detainees. Picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan, they have been held for years without charge or trial.
“Since 2002, the U.S. government has detained indefinitely thousands of people there in harsh conditions and without charge, without access to lawyers, without access to courts, and without a meaningful opportunity to challenge their detention,” the ACLU notes.
So as the Obama administration fills out its cabinet posts and prepares for another four years, the permanent war on terror will stay with us. From drones to proxy detentions to indefinite detention, the constitutional lawyer in the Oval Office has institutionalized and expanded some of the worst hallmarks of the lawless Bush era.
Source
This is (partly) why I never understood the “lesser of two evils” argument in voting for Obama. 

5 ways Obama is just like George W. Bush
January 15, 2013

On President Barack Obama’s second full day in the Oval Office in 2009, he signed important executive orders that signaled a clear break with the excesses of George W. Bush’s “war on terror.” Obama decreed that the Guantanamo Bay prison camp would be closed in a year and that the United States would no longer perpetrate torture. No longer would men, some of them innocent, languish without charges in what has been described as an American gulag by Amnesty International. No longer would men be subjected to brutal interrogation tactics that clearly amounted to torture, like water boarding.

The orders would “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism,” said Obama.

Fast-forward to today. Guantanamo remains open, warrantless wiretapping continues, and drone strikes have accelerated, leading to the deaths of innocent civilians and a burst in support for anti-American forces in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. Instead of breaking with the Bush era, Obama has codified and permanently institutionalized the “war on terror” framework that has characterized American foreign policy since the September 11, 2001 attacks. And they have done all of this largely in secret, refusing to open up about how drone strikes are decided on. So while torture has been thrown out of the American playbook, other black marks remain. Obama has done everything but restore “core constitutional values” to how the U.S. conducts itself around the world.

Perhaps the most potent symbol of Obama’s willingness to institutionalize Bush-era frameworks for dealing with terrorism is his January 2013 appointment of John Brennan as new Central Intelligence Agency director. Brennan was a key supporter of many Bush-favored tactics used by the CIA, including torture and extraordinary rendition. When Obama first contemplated appointing Brennan in his first term to the post he’s been appointed to now, the outcry was swift and Brennan pulled out from consideration. Now, the reaction has been meek—a symbol of how Bush-era military and intelligence tactics have become normalized to the extent that nobody bats an eye when a man with a sordid record at the CIA is appointed to head up the entire agency.

Obama has kept the U.S. on a permanent war footing with no end in sight through a variety of methods. Here are five ways the Obama administration has institutionalized the never-ending war on terror.

1. Drones

The image of the gray, pilotless aircraft flying through the sky to eventually rain hellfire down will be indelibly tied to Obama. His administration has made drone strikes in countries like Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan the weapon of choice when it comes to dealing with suspected militants. You have to look at the numbers of drone strikes under the Bush and Obama administrations to truly appreciate how Obama has taken this Bush tool and increased its use exponentially.

The first drone strike in U.S. history occurred in 2002, when a CIA-operated drone fired on three men in Afghanistan. The drone strikes have since migrated over to battlefields away from U.S.-declared wars. In Pakistan, the Bush administration carried out a total of 52 strikes, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which closely tracks drone strikes. That led to the deaths of an estimated 438 people, including 182 civilians and 112 children. But the Obama administration has ordered at least 300 drone strikes in Pakistan—and Obama’s second term has yet to begun. Those strikes have killed about 2,152 people, including 290 civilians, of whom 64 were children.

The drone strikes also have a devastating impact beyond the deaths reported. As a New York University/Stanford University study on drone strikes stated, the constant buzzing of drones in the sky “terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.”

Instead of looking forward to how this permanent drone war might end, the Obama administration has decided to institutionalize the process. In October 2012, the Washington Post revealed that the administration had undertaken a two-year long strategy to institutionalize what has become known as the “kill list,” or the list of suspected terrorists the Obama administration unilaterally decides to kill by drone strikes. The administration calls it the “disposition matrix,” which refers to the different plans the administration has to “dispose” of suspected militants. The Post described the “matrix” as part of “the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war.”

2. Warrantless Wiretapping

One of the enduring scandals of the George W. Bush years was that administration’s practice of wiretapping American citizens with no warrant in order to spy on suspected terrorists. TheNew York Times, which broke the story in 2005, reported that “months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying.” The move raised concerns that the Bush administration was crossing constitutional limits on wiretapping Americans.

But the outcry from those concerned with civil liberties has largely been muted in the Obama era. In late December 2012, President Obama signed an extension of a law that allows the U.S. to “eavesdrop on communications and review email without following an open and public warrant process,” as NPR summed it up. The law was an extension of the 2008 law that legalized the Bush administration’s wiretapping of American citizens.

As national security blogger Marcy Wheeler notes in a recent piece for the Nation, the president’s signature on the new bill on wiretapping means that the U.S. “has nearly unrestrained authority to eavesdrop on those who communicate with people outside the country. The government doesn’t even need to show that these foreign targets are terrorists or that the conversations center around a plot. This means any international communication may be subject to wiretapping.”

3. Proxy Detentions

Under the Bush administration, the process of “extraordinary rendition” involved abducting people accused of terrorism and shipping them off to another country where they were interrogated and tortured. The Obama administration has continued to use foreign countries to detain and interrogate suspects, but the details of how they do it are changed from the Bush era. Still, the overall practice of using other security forces to do your dirty work remains in place.

The Washington Postreported on January 1 that “the Obama administration has embraced rendition — the practice of holding and interrogating terrorism suspects in other countries without due process — despite widespread condemnation of the tactic in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.” While the Post used the term “rendition,” the more accurate term would be “proxy detention,” as Mother Jones pointed out.

The most recent iterations of the practice of using other countries to detain suspects the U.S. wants to interrogate have been in countries like Dijibouti and Nigeria. The Post reported on one December 2011 case in which an man from Eritrea “revealed that he had been questioned in a Ni­ger­ian jail by what a U.S. interrogator described as a ‘dirty’ team of American agents who ignored the suspect’s right to remain silent or have a lawyer, according to court proceedings.”

Other cases have been publicized by Mother Jones. The magazine reported on the case of Yonas Fikre, a Muslim-American from Oregon who was detained in the United Arab Emirates. There, Fikre and his lawyers claim, he was beaten and held in stress positions. He claims there was cooperation between the FBI and UAE security forces. So the FBI was using the UAE forces to detain people the U.S. wanted to interrogate.

4. Guantanamo

Although the continued operation of the Guantanamo Bay camp is hardly the sole fault of President Obama, it does symbolize the abject failure to reject the Bush administration’s approach to terrorism.

While it’s important to note that the Republican Party has blocked Obama’s desire to close Guantanamo, he has not expended political capital on closing the prison and has signed bills that restrict his ability to do so. The most recent bill concerning Guantanamo Bay crossed his desk at the beginning of the year.

Despite threatening to veto the bill because it restricted the executive branch’s authority, Obama signed it, and curtailed his own ability to move ahead on closing the infamous camp, where people have languished without charge for years on end. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, where the Guantanamo provisions are included, restricts “the transfer of detainees into the United States for any purpose, including trials in federal court. It also requires the defense secretary to meet rigorous conditions before any detainee can be returned to his own country or resettled in a third country,” according to theWashington Post.

Human rights activists blasted the move. “Indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo is illegal, unsustainable and against U.S. national security interests, and it needs to end,” Human Rights Watch’s Andrea Prasow told the Post. “The administration should not continue to just blame Congress. President Obama should follow through on his earlier commitments and make the effort to overcome the transfer restrictions.”

5. Indefinite Detention

This issue, over all the others, says loud and clear that the Obama administration is preparing for an endless war on terror.

Domestically, indefinite detention reared its ugly head back in December 2011, when President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, a defense funding bill. Included in the bill was a provision allowing for indefinite military detention without charge or trial. Despite concerns raised by civil liberties activists, Obama signed the bill into law, although an executive signing statement vowed that the president would “not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”

That has not allayed the concerns of civil liberties groups. The American Civil Liberties Union states: “The NDAA’s dangerous detention provisions would authorize the president — and all future presidents — to order the military to pick up and indefinitely imprison people captured anywhere in the world, far from any battlefield….Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again.”

While no American citizens have been detained under the law yet, indefinite detention has been a hallmark of the war in Afghanistan. Thousands of detainees have remained in Bagram Air Field, including non-Afghan detainees. Picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan, they have been held for years without charge or trial.

“Since 2002, the U.S. government has detained indefinitely thousands of people there in harsh conditions and without charge, without access to lawyers, without access to courts, and without a meaningful opportunity to challenge their detention,” the ACLU notes.

So as the Obama administration fills out its cabinet posts and prepares for another four years, the permanent war on terror will stay with us. From drones to proxy detentions to indefinite detention, the constitutional lawyer in the Oval Office has institutionalized and expanded some of the worst hallmarks of the lawless Bush era.

Source

This is (partly) why I never understood the “lesser of two evils” argument in voting for Obama. 

Obama fails to close Guantanamo prison; human rights violations continueJanuary 9, 2013
Human rights groups are denouncing President Barack Obama’s failure to veto a defense bill that will make it far more difficult for him to fulfill his four-year-old pledge to close the Guantanamo detention facility this year.
Obama had threatened to veto the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) precisely because it renewed, among other things, Congressional restrictions which he said were intended to “foreclose” his ability to shut down the notorious prison, which has been used for the past 11 years to detain suspected foreign terrorists.
But, for the second year in a row, he failed to follow through on his threat and instead signed the underlying bill, which was passed by both houses of Congress last month and authorizes the Pentagon to spend $633 billion on its operations in 2013.
"President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before Inauguration Day," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “He has jeopardised his ability to close Guantanamo during his presidency.
"Scores of men who have already been held for nearly 11 years without being charged with a crime – including more than 80 who have been cleared for transfer – may very well be imprisoned unfairly for another year," Romero added.
"The administration blames Congress for making it harder to close Guantanamo, yet for a second year, President Obama has signed damaging congressional restrictions into law," noted Andrea Prasow, senior counter-terrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch (HRW). “The burden is on Obama to show he is serious about closing the prison.”
Obama’s signing of the law comes amid a growing debate – both within and outside the administration – about when and how to end the so-called “Global War on Terror” – especially its most controversial components – that Obama’s predecessor, George W Bush, initiated shortly after the al-Qaeda attacks on Manhattan’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon on Sepember 11, 2001.
A ‘never ending’ conflict
Last month, the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, addressed precisely that topic in a speech to Britain’s Oxford Union, asking, “Now that the efforts by the US. military against al-Qaeda are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves, how will this conflict end?”
While he didn’t offer any specific answers, he indicated that a “tipping point” could be reached when Washington concluded that the group and its affiliates were rendered incapable of launching “strategic attacks” against the US
On taking office four years ago, Obama ordered an end to certain tactics, notably what the Bush administration referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques” that rights groups called “torture”, and “extraordinary rendition” to third countries known to use torture. He has since relied to a much greater extent on drone strikes against “high-value” suspected terrorists from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia.
Some former Bush officials have raised the question whether Obama’s use of targeted killings – which Bush also used but not nearly as frequently – was morally or legally more justifiable than their use of “enhanced interrogation”. Some have even suggested that the administration has preferred killing suspects to capturing them, especially if their capture would require it to send more prisoners to Guantanamo, something Obama pledged not to do.
The administration has sought to justify that tactic – which a growing number of critics consider counter-productive at best, and illegal under international law if carried out far from the battlefield – in general terms but has shied away from spelling out the specific circumstances under which it is deployed.
Drone strikes are believed to have killed more than 1,500 people in Pakistan and more than 400 in Yemen since Obama took office, according to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which claims that a not-insignificant proportion of the deaths have included civilians.
The administration is reportedly working to tighten rules regarding the use of drone strikes, particularly by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which has enjoyed greater freedom in deciding when to attack suspects in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia than the U.S. military has had in Afghanistan.
Particularly controversial was the targeted killing of a US citizen and alleged al-Qaeda leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen in 2011.
A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that she could not require the Justice Department to disclose an internal memorandum that provided the legal justification for that attack, but noted that such actions appeared on their face” to be “incompatible with our Constitution and laws”.
The ACLU, which brought the lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, denounced the ruling, insisting that “the public has a right to know more about the circumstances in which the government believes it can lawfully kill people, including US citizens, who are from any battlefield and have never been charged with a crime.”
Where the detainees will end up?
On the very first day of his presidency four years ago, Obama issued an executive order directing the closing of Guantanamo Bay, which he called a “sad chapter in American history”, within one year.
At the time, he ordered a review of the cases of the approximately 250 detainees who were still there – down from a high of around 800 shortly after it opened in January 2002 – to determine whether they could be prosecuted in civilian courts on US soil or released.
In 2010, an administration task force recommended repatriating 126 detainees to their homelands or a third country, prosecuting 36 others in federal court or before military commissions (which have nonetheless been harshly criticised by human-rights groups for lack of due-process guarantees), and holding 48 others indefinitely pending the end of hostilities.
Some were indeed repatriated; 166 detainees remain at Guantanamo today.
But the administration’s plan encountered heavy resistance in Congress, particularly from lawmakers who strongly opposed the transfer of any suspected terrorists to detention facilities or prisons in their jurisdictions or their trial before civilian courts.
By 2011, Congress attached amendments to critical defence bills restricting Obama’s ability to repatriate detainees and banning their transfer to the US mainland for any purpose, despite the fact that the yearly cost of holding a prisoner in a maximum-security US-based facility would be a fraction of the estimated $800,000 it costs to hold a detainee at Guantanamo.
Obama has taken the position that these restrictions encroach on his powers as commander-in-chief, but his signing of this most recent NDAA marks the second time that he has backed down from a veto threat.
"It’s not encouraging that the president continues to be willing to tie his own hands when it comes to closing Guantanamo," said Dixon Osborn of Human Rights First. “The injustice of Guantanamo continues to serve as a stain on American global leadership on human rights.”
The NDAA also imposes curbs on the administration’s ability to transfer or repatriate some 50 non-Afghan citizens who are currently being held by US forces in Parwan prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Source

Obama fails to close Guantanamo prison; human rights violations continue
January 9, 2013

Human rights groups are denouncing President Barack Obama’s failure to veto a defense bill that will make it far more difficult for him to fulfill his four-year-old pledge to close the Guantanamo detention facility this year.

Obama had threatened to veto the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) precisely because it renewed, among other things, Congressional restrictions which he said were intended to “foreclose” his ability to shut down the notorious prison, which has been used for the past 11 years to detain suspected foreign terrorists.

But, for the second year in a row, he failed to follow through on his threat and instead signed the underlying bill, which was passed by both houses of Congress last month and authorizes the Pentagon to spend $633 billion on its operations in 2013.

"President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before Inauguration Day," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “He has jeopardised his ability to close Guantanamo during his presidency.

"Scores of men who have already been held for nearly 11 years without being charged with a crime – including more than 80 who have been cleared for transfer – may very well be imprisoned unfairly for another year," Romero added.

"The administration blames Congress for making it harder to close Guantanamo, yet for a second year, President Obama has signed damaging congressional restrictions into law," noted Andrea Prasow, senior counter-terrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch (HRW). “The burden is on Obama to show he is serious about closing the prison.”

Obama’s signing of the law comes amid a growing debate – both within and outside the administration – about when and how to end the so-called “Global War on Terror” – especially its most controversial components – that Obama’s predecessor, George W Bush, initiated shortly after the al-Qaeda attacks on Manhattan’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon on Sepember 11, 2001.

A ‘never ending’ conflict

Last month, the Pentagon’s general counsel, Jeh Johnson, addressed precisely that topic in a speech to Britain’s Oxford Union, asking, “Now that the efforts by the US. military against al-Qaeda are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves, how will this conflict end?”

While he didn’t offer any specific answers, he indicated that a “tipping point” could be reached when Washington concluded that the group and its affiliates were rendered incapable of launching “strategic attacks” against the US

On taking office four years ago, Obama ordered an end to certain tactics, notably what the Bush administration referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques” that rights groups called “torture”, and “extraordinary rendition” to third countries known to use torture. He has since relied to a much greater extent on drone strikes against “high-value” suspected terrorists from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia.

Some former Bush officials have raised the question whether Obama’s use of targeted killings – which Bush also used but not nearly as frequently – was morally or legally more justifiable than their use of “enhanced interrogation”. Some have even suggested that the administration has preferred killing suspects to capturing them, especially if their capture would require it to send more prisoners to Guantanamo, something Obama pledged not to do.

The administration has sought to justify that tactic – which a growing number of critics consider counter-productive at best, and illegal under international law if carried out far from the battlefield – in general terms but has shied away from spelling out the specific circumstances under which it is deployed.

Drone strikes are believed to have killed more than 1,500 people in Pakistan and more than 400 in Yemen since Obama took office, according to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which claims that a not-insignificant proportion of the deaths have included civilians.

The administration is reportedly working to tighten rules regarding the use of drone strikes, particularly by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which has enjoyed greater freedom in deciding when to attack suspects in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia than the U.S. military has had in Afghanistan.

Particularly controversial was the targeted killing of a US citizen and alleged al-Qaeda leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen in 2011.

A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that she could not require the Justice Department to disclose an internal memorandum that provided the legal justification for that attack, but noted that such actions appeared on their face” to be “incompatible with our Constitution and laws”.

The ACLU, which brought the lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, denounced the ruling, insisting that “the public has a right to know more about the circumstances in which the government believes it can lawfully kill people, including US citizens, who are from any battlefield and have never been charged with a crime.”

Where the detainees will end up?

On the very first day of his presidency four years ago, Obama issued an executive order directing the closing of Guantanamo Bay, which he called a “sad chapter in American history”, within one year.

At the time, he ordered a review of the cases of the approximately 250 detainees who were still there – down from a high of around 800 shortly after it opened in January 2002 – to determine whether they could be prosecuted in civilian courts on US soil or released.

In 2010, an administration task force recommended repatriating 126 detainees to their homelands or a third country, prosecuting 36 others in federal court or before military commissions (which have nonetheless been harshly criticised by human-rights groups for lack of due-process guarantees), and holding 48 others indefinitely pending the end of hostilities.

Some were indeed repatriated; 166 detainees remain at Guantanamo today.

But the administration’s plan encountered heavy resistance in Congress, particularly from lawmakers who strongly opposed the transfer of any suspected terrorists to detention facilities or prisons in their jurisdictions or their trial before civilian courts.

By 2011, Congress attached amendments to critical defence bills restricting Obama’s ability to repatriate detainees and banning their transfer to the US mainland for any purpose, despite the fact that the yearly cost of holding a prisoner in a maximum-security US-based facility would be a fraction of the estimated $800,000 it costs to hold a detainee at Guantanamo.

Obama has taken the position that these restrictions encroach on his powers as commander-in-chief, but his signing of this most recent NDAA marks the second time that he has backed down from a veto threat.

"It’s not encouraging that the president continues to be willing to tie his own hands when it comes to closing Guantanamo," said Dixon Osborn of Human Rights First. “The injustice of Guantanamo continues to serve as a stain on American global leadership on human rights.”

The NDAA also imposes curbs on the administration’s ability to transfer or repatriate some 50 non-Afghan citizens who are currently being held by US forces in Parwan prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Source

Obama signs NDAA 2013 without objecting to indefinite detention of AmericansJanuary 3, 2013
President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 on Wednesday, giving his stamp of approval to a Pentagon spending bill that will keep Guantanamo Bay open and make indefinite detention for US citizens as likely as ever.
The president inked his name to the 2013 NDAA on Wednesday evening to little fanfare, and accompanied his signature with a statement condemning a fair number of provisions contained in a bill that he nevertheless endorsed.
The NDAA, an otherwise mundane annual bill that lays out the use of funds for the Department of Defense, has come under attack during the Obama administration for the introduction of a provision last year that allows the military to detain United States citizens indefinitely without charge or trial for mere suspicions of ties to terrorism. Under the 2012 NDAA’s Sec. 1021, Pres. Obama agreed to give the military the power to arrest and hold Americans without the writ of habeas corpus, although he promised with that year’s signing statement that his administration would not abuse that privilege.
In response to the controversial indefinite detention provision from last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) introduced an amendment in December 2012 that would have forbid the government from using military force to indefinitely detain Americans without trial under the 2013 NDAA. Although that provision, dubbed the “Feinstein Amendment,” passed the Senate unanimously, a select panel of lawmakers led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) stripped it from the final version of the NDAA two week later before it could clear Congress. In exchange, Congress added a provision, Sec. 1029, that claims to ensure that “any person inside the United States” is allowed their constitutional rights, including habeas corpus, but supporters of the Feinstein Amendment say that the swapped wording does nothing to erase the indefinite detention provision from the previous year.
“Saying that new language somehow ensures the right to habeas corpus – the right to be presented before a judge – is both questionable and not enough. Citizens must not only be formally charged but also receive jury trials and the other protections our Constitution guarantees. Habeas corpus is simply the beginning of due process. It is by no means the whole,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said after the Feinstein Amendment was removed.
“Our Bill of Rights is not something that can be cherry-picked at legislators’ convenience. When I entered the United States Senate, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. It is for this reason that I will strongly oppose passage of the McCain conference report that strips the guarantee to a trial by jury,” Sen. Paul added.
Although the Pres. Obama rejected the indefinite detention clause when signing the 2012 NDAA, a statement issued late Wednesday from the White House failed to touch on the military’s detainment abilities. On the other hand, Pres. Obama did voice his opposition to a number of provisions included in the latest bill, particularly ones that will essentially render his promise of closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison impossible.
Despite repeated pleas that Gitmo will be closed on his watch, Pres. Obama failed to do as much during his first term in the White House. Thanks to a provision in the 2013 NDAA, the Pentagon will be unable to use funds to transfer detainees out of that facility and to other sights, ensuring they will remain at the top-secret military prison for the time being.
“Even though I support the vast majority of the provisions contained in this Act, which is comprised of hundreds of sections spanning more than 680 pages of text, I do not agree with them all. Our Constitution does not afford the president the opportunity to approve or reject statutory sections one by one,” Pres. Obama writes.
Congress, claims the president, designed sections of the new defense bill “in order to foreclose my ability to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.”
“I continue to believe that operating the facility weakens our national security by wasting resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and strengthening our enemies,” he says.
Elsewhere, the president claims that certain provisions in the act threaten to interview with his “constitutional duty to supervise the executive branch” of the United States.
Before the 2013 NDAA was finalized, it was reported by the White House that Pres. Obama would veto the legislation over the provisions involving Guantanamo Bay. Similarly, the White House originally said the president would veto the 2012 NDAA over the indefinite detention provisions, although he signed it regardless “with reservations” on December 31 of that year.
Since authorizing the 2012 NDAA, the president has been challenged in federal court by a team of plaintiffs who say that the indefinite detention clause is unconstitutional. US District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed that Sec. 1021 of the 2012 NDAA violated the US Constitution and granted a permanent injunction on the Obama administration from using that provision, but the White House successfully fought to appeal that decision.
Commenting on the latest signing, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero says, “President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day.”
“His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended,” adds Romero. ”He also has jeopardized his ability to close Guantanamo during his presidency. Scores of men who have already been held for nearly 11 years without being charged with a crime—including more than 80 who have been cleared for transfer—may very well be imprisoned unfairly for yet another year. The president should use whatever discretion he has in the law to order many of the detainees transferred home, and finally step up next year to close Guantanamo and bring a definite end to indefinite detention.”
SourcePhoto
This administration can indefinitely detain you without due process… but don’t worry: President Obama promises not to abuse this privilege. 
Between the continued drone war campaign overseas, GITMO staying open, drone strikes targeting Americans being kept secret & indefinite military detention of Americans without charge or trial, the Obama administration is on a civil liberties slashing spree for 2013. & it’s only January 3. 

Obama signs NDAA 2013 without objecting to indefinite detention of Americans
January 3, 2013

President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 on Wednesday, giving his stamp of approval to a Pentagon spending bill that will keep Guantanamo Bay open and make indefinite detention for US citizens as likely as ever.

The president inked his name to the 2013 NDAA on Wednesday evening to little fanfare, and accompanied his signature with a statement condemning a fair number of provisions contained in a bill that he nevertheless endorsed.

The NDAA, an otherwise mundane annual bill that lays out the use of funds for the Department of Defense, has come under attack during the Obama administration for the introduction of a provision last year that allows the military to detain United States citizens indefinitely without charge or trial for mere suspicions of ties to terrorism. Under the 2012 NDAA’s Sec. 1021, Pres. Obama agreed to give the military the power to arrest and hold Americans without the writ of habeas corpus, although he promised with that year’s signing statement that his administration would not abuse that privilege.

In response to the controversial indefinite detention provision from last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) introduced an amendment in December 2012 that would have forbid the government from using military force to indefinitely detain Americans without trial under the 2013 NDAA. Although that provision, dubbed the “Feinstein Amendment,” passed the Senate unanimously, a select panel of lawmakers led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) stripped it from the final version of the NDAA two week later before it could clear Congress. In exchange, Congress added a provision, Sec. 1029, that claims to ensure that “any person inside the United States” is allowed their constitutional rights, including habeas corpus, but supporters of the Feinstein Amendment say that the swapped wording does nothing to erase the indefinite detention provision from the previous year.

“Saying that new language somehow ensures the right to habeas corpus – the right to be presented before a judge – is both questionable and not enough. Citizens must not only be formally charged but also receive jury trials and the other protections our Constitution guarantees. Habeas corpus is simply the beginning of due process. It is by no means the whole,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) said after the Feinstein Amendment was removed.

“Our Bill of Rights is not something that can be cherry-picked at legislators’ convenience. When I entered the United States Senate, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. It is for this reason that I will strongly oppose passage of the McCain conference report that strips the guarantee to a trial by jury,” Sen. Paul added.

Although the Pres. Obama rejected the indefinite detention clause when signing the 2012 NDAA, a statement issued late Wednesday from the White House failed to touch on the military’s detainment abilities. On the other hand, Pres. Obama did voice his opposition to a number of provisions included in the latest bill, particularly ones that will essentially render his promise of closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison impossible.

Despite repeated pleas that Gitmo will be closed on his watch, Pres. Obama failed to do as much during his first term in the White House. Thanks to a provision in the 2013 NDAA, the Pentagon will be unable to use funds to transfer detainees out of that facility and to other sights, ensuring they will remain at the top-secret military prison for the time being.

“Even though I support the vast majority of the provisions contained in this Act, which is comprised of hundreds of sections spanning more than 680 pages of text, I do not agree with them all. Our Constitution does not afford the president the opportunity to approve or reject statutory sections one by one,” Pres. Obama writes.

Congress, claims the president, designed sections of the new defense bill “in order to foreclose my ability to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.”

“I continue to believe that operating the facility weakens our national security by wasting resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and strengthening our enemies,” he says.

Elsewhere, the president claims that certain provisions in the act threaten to interview with his “constitutional duty to supervise the executive branch” of the United States.

Before the 2013 NDAA was finalized, it was reported by the White House that Pres. Obama would veto the legislation over the provisions involving Guantanamo Bay. Similarly, the White House originally said the president would veto the 2012 NDAA over the indefinite detention provisions, although he signed it regardless “with reservations” on December 31 of that year.

Since authorizing the 2012 NDAA, the president has been challenged in federal court by a team of plaintiffs who say that the indefinite detention clause is unconstitutional. US District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed that Sec. 1021 of the 2012 NDAA violated the US Constitution and granted a permanent injunction on the Obama administration from using that provision, but the White House successfully fought to appeal that decision.

Commenting on the latest signing, American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero says, “President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day.”

“His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended,” adds Romero. ”He also has jeopardized his ability to close Guantanamo during his presidency. Scores of men who have already been held for nearly 11 years without being charged with a crime—including more than 80 who have been cleared for transfer—may very well be imprisoned unfairly for yet another year. The president should use whatever discretion he has in the law to order many of the detainees transferred home, and finally step up next year to close Guantanamo and bring a definite end to indefinite detention.”

Source
Photo

This administration can indefinitely detain you without due process… but don’t worry: President Obama promises not to abuse this privilege. 

Between the continued drone war campaign overseas, GITMO staying open, drone strikes targeting Americans being kept secret & indefinite military detention of Americans without charge or trial, the Obama administration is on a civil liberties slashing spree for 2013. & it’s only January 3. 

The People’s Record Daily News Update - Whose news? Our news!

November 30, 2012 

Here are some stories you may not otherwise read about today:

Follow us on Tumblr or by RSS feed for more daily updates. You can also like our Facebook page (we’d like to break 500 Facebook followers in the next few days, share our page to help us out!) for related content.

How Obama expanded the national security stateOctober 12, 2012
During his election campaign in 2008, Barack Obama promised to close the prison at Guantánamo, repeal the Patriot Act of 2001 that authorised new domestic surveillance, and protect military and intelligence whistleblowers against government reprisals. It was a pledge to rein in much of the security state apparatus that had been expanded after 11 September 2001 into an enormous, often unaccountable, bureaucracy.
But four years later, Guantánamo is still open, its military tribunals have resumed and Obama has approved the renewal of the Patriot Act. His Department of Justice has launched six Espionage Act prosecutions of security whistleblowers — twice as many as all previous administrations combined. Also the no-fly list of individuals prohibited from air travel — a designation that is often arbitrary and always opaque — has more than doubled since last year, to 21,000. In 2011, the president signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which gives the federal government the power to imprison indefinitely US citizens accused of terrorism, a major erosion of habeas corpus rights. The administration has authorised the assassination of an unknown number of US citizens abroad who are not directly engaged in armed hostilities but who have been designated as “terrorists”, with minimal legal process. Last September, American drones in Yemen hunted and killed radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Al-Qaida propagandist Samir Khan; two weeks later, a separate American drone strike killed Awlaki’s 16-year old son: all were US citizens. Obama has also radically expanded the ostensibly “secret” killing of non-US citizens by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; as many as a third of the victims are non-combatant civilians, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
What happened? The expectation that Obama would reduce the national security state was not wholly naïve, nor without historical precedent. In the 1970s, after Watergate and Vietnam, an emboldened Democratic majority in Congress rose up against Republican president Gerald Ford to curtail intrusive police powers and domestic spying at home while limiting the executive’s war-making powers, including covert operations, abroad. Many voters expected similar changes, in accordance with Obama’s campaign promises, after the 2008 election.
They have been disappointed. Airport security is ever more intrusive, with the introduction of body-imaging “porno-scanners,” now in 140 airports. These time-consuming and irritating practices are “security theatre” and initial reports by the Transportation Security Administration show that the scanners — which have cost $90m — are not difficult to elude (1). Those who refuse to be scanned go through pat-downs more like sexual groping.
Full articlePhoto source

How Obama expanded the national security state
October 12, 2012

During his election campaign in 2008, Barack Obama promised to close the prison at Guantánamo, repeal the Patriot Act of 2001 that authorised new domestic surveillance, and protect military and intelligence whistleblowers against government reprisals. It was a pledge to rein in much of the security state apparatus that had been expanded after 11 September 2001 into an enormous, often unaccountable, bureaucracy.

But four years later, Guantánamo is still open, its military tribunals have resumed and Obama has approved the renewal of the Patriot Act. His Department of Justice has launched six Espionage Act prosecutions of security whistleblowers — twice as many as all previous administrations combined. Also the no-fly list of individuals prohibited from air travel — a designation that is often arbitrary and always opaque — has more than doubled since last year, to 21,000. In 2011, the president signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which gives the federal government the power to imprison indefinitely US citizens accused of terrorism, a major erosion of habeas corpus rights. The administration has authorised the assassination of an unknown number of US citizens abroad who are not directly engaged in armed hostilities but who have been designated as “terrorists”, with minimal legal process. Last September, American drones in Yemen hunted and killed radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Al-Qaida propagandist Samir Khan; two weeks later, a separate American drone strike killed Awlaki’s 16-year old son: all were US citizens. Obama has also radically expanded the ostensibly “secret” killing of non-US citizens by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; as many as a third of the victims are non-combatant civilians, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

What happened? The expectation that Obama would reduce the national security state was not wholly naïve, nor without historical precedent. In the 1970s, after Watergate and Vietnam, an emboldened Democratic majority in Congress rose up against Republican president Gerald Ford to curtail intrusive police powers and domestic spying at home while limiting the executive’s war-making powers, including covert operations, abroad. Many voters expected similar changes, in accordance with Obama’s campaign promises, after the 2008 election.

They have been disappointed. Airport security is ever more intrusive, with the introduction of body-imaging “porno-scanners,” now in 140 airports. These time-consuming and irritating practices are “security theatre” and initial reports by the Transportation Security Administration show that the scanners — which have cost $90m — are not difficult to elude (1). Those who refuse to be scanned go through pat-downs more like sexual groping.

Full article
Photo source

Glenn Greenwald: Iraqi-American is imprisoned by US for saving his family from US sanctions
September 29, 2012
I’m currently traveling around the US on a speaking tour, and as I’vewritten before, one of the prime benefits of doing that is being able to meet people and their families whose lives have been severely harmed by the post-9/11 assault on basic liberties. Doing that prevents one from regarding these injustices as abstractions, and ensures that the very real human costs from these government abuses remain vivid.
Such is the case with the treatment of Dr. Shakir Hamoodi, an Iraqi-American nuclear engineer who just began a three-year prison sentence at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas penitentiary for the “crime” of sending sustenance money to his impoverished, sick, and suffering relatives inIraq - including his blind mother - during the years when US sanctions (which is what caused his family’s suffering) barred the sending of any money to Iraq.
Yesterday in Columbia, Missouri, I met with Hamoodi’s son, Owais, a medical student at the University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine, and Hamoodi’s son-in-law, Amir Yehia, a Master’s student in MU’s School of Journalism. The travesty of this case - and the havoc it has wreaked on the entire family - is repellent and genuinely infuriating. But it is sadly common in post-9/11 America, especially for American Muslim communities.
Hamoodi came with his wife to the US in 1985 to work toward his PhD in nuclear engineering from MU and, not wanting to return to the oppression of Saddam’s regime, stayed in the US. He was offered a research professor position at the university, proceeded to have five American-born children, all of whom he and his wife raised in the Columbia community, and then himself became a US citizen in 2002.
But US-imposed sanctions after the First Gulf War had decimated the value of Iraqi currency and were causing extreme hardship for his large family who remained in Iraq. That sanctions regime caused the death ofat least hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including 500,000 Iraqi children. In 1991, the writer Chuck Sudetic visited Iraq, wrote in Mother Jonesabout the pervasive suffering, starvation and mass death he witnessed first-hand, and noted that the US-led sanctions regime “killed more civilians than all the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons used in human history”.
The sanctions regime decimated Hamoodi’s family. His elderly blind mother was unable to buy basic medication. His sister, one of 11 siblings back in Iraq, suffered a miscarriage because she was unable to buy $10 antibiotics. His brother, a surgeon, was earning the equivalent of $2 per month and literally unable to feed his family.
Hamoodi was earning a very modest salary at the time of roughly $35,000 per year from the university, but - as would be true for any decent person of conscience - could not ignore the extreme and growing suffering of his family back in Iraq. Because sending money into Iraq from the US was physically impossible, he set up a bank account in Jordan and proceeded to make small deposits into it. From that account, small amounts of money - between $20 and $100 - were dispersed each month to his family members.
When other Iraqi nationals in his Missouri community heard of his helping his family, they wanted to help theirs as well. So Hamoodi began accepting similar amounts of money from a small group of Iraqis and ensured those were disbursed to their family members suffering under the sanctions regime. From 1993 until 2003, when the sanctions regime was lifted after the US invasion, Hamoodi sent an average of $25,000 each year back to Iraq, totaling roughly $250,000 over the decade: an amount that fed and sustained the Iraqi relatives of 14 families in Columbia, Missouri, including his wife’s five siblings.
Nobody, including the US government, claims that these amounts were intended for anything other than humanitarian assistance for his family and those of others in his community. Everyone, including the US government, acknowledges that these funds were sent to and received only by the intended recipients - suffering Iraqi family members - and never got anywhere near Saddam’s regime, terrorist groups, or anything illicit. As a Newsweek article on the Hamoodi case made clear:

"The cash … was doled out mostly in dribs and drabs, even the authorities concede; $40 a month to the son of a friend trying to eat while attending medical school, $80 to Hamoodi’s blind mother. There was no suggestion that Hamoodi … aided terrorists, or that the money wound up in Saddam Hussein’s hands; his elaborate email trail served as receipts, as tidy as his bookkeeping at the store.
“‘I would get messages from my sisters, I have 11 siblings,’ he says, as he shares a somber meal - piquant red peppers from South Africa, French cheeses, crusty baklava - with his wife and sons at the long dining room table. ‘They would be starving. Starving. So I did what anyone, any American, would do.’”

But in 2002 and 2003, Hamoodi was not just a nuclear engineer. He was also a very outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s plan to attack Iraq. And his position as a nuclear engineer made him a particularly potent threat to the case for that invasion, as he continuously insisted that Saddam did not have an active nuclear weapons program and that the case for the war was grounded in lies. In his antiwar activism, he emphasized how much already-suffering Iraqi civilians would suffer more, and how the invasion would lead to mass instability.
Finish the article here

Glenn Greenwald: Iraqi-American is imprisoned by US for saving his family from US sanctions

September 29, 2012

I’m currently traveling around the US on a speaking tour, and as I’vewritten before, one of the prime benefits of doing that is being able to meet people and their families whose lives have been severely harmed by the post-9/11 assault on basic liberties. Doing that prevents one from regarding these injustices as abstractions, and ensures that the very real human costs from these government abuses remain vivid.

Such is the case with the treatment of Dr. Shakir Hamoodi, an Iraqi-American nuclear engineer who just began a three-year prison sentence at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas penitentiary for the “crime” of sending sustenance money to his impoverished, sick, and suffering relatives inIraq - including his blind mother - during the years when US sanctions (which is what caused his family’s suffering) barred the sending of any money to Iraq.

Yesterday in Columbia, Missouri, I met with Hamoodi’s son, Owais, a medical student at the University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine, and Hamoodi’s son-in-law, Amir Yehia, a Master’s student in MU’s School of Journalism. The travesty of this case - and the havoc it has wreaked on the entire family - is repellent and genuinely infuriating. But it is sadly common in post-9/11 America, especially for American Muslim communities.

Hamoodi came with his wife to the US in 1985 to work toward his PhD in nuclear engineering from MU and, not wanting to return to the oppression of Saddam’s regime, stayed in the US. He was offered a research professor position at the university, proceeded to have five American-born children, all of whom he and his wife raised in the Columbia community, and then himself became a US citizen in 2002.

But US-imposed sanctions after the First Gulf War had decimated the value of Iraqi currency and were causing extreme hardship for his large family who remained in Iraq. That sanctions regime caused the death ofat least hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, including 500,000 Iraqi children. In 1991, the writer Chuck Sudetic visited Iraq, wrote in Mother Jonesabout the pervasive suffering, starvation and mass death he witnessed first-hand, and noted that the US-led sanctions regime “killed more civilians than all the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons used in human history”.

The sanctions regime decimated Hamoodi’s family. His elderly blind mother was unable to buy basic medication. His sister, one of 11 siblings back in Iraq, suffered a miscarriage because she was unable to buy $10 antibiotics. His brother, a surgeon, was earning the equivalent of $2 per month and literally unable to feed his family.

Hamoodi was earning a very modest salary at the time of roughly $35,000 per year from the university, but - as would be true for any decent person of conscience - could not ignore the extreme and growing suffering of his family back in Iraq. Because sending money into Iraq from the US was physically impossible, he set up a bank account in Jordan and proceeded to make small deposits into it. From that account, small amounts of money - between $20 and $100 - were dispersed each month to his family members.

When other Iraqi nationals in his Missouri community heard of his helping his family, they wanted to help theirs as well. So Hamoodi began accepting similar amounts of money from a small group of Iraqis and ensured those were disbursed to their family members suffering under the sanctions regime. From 1993 until 2003, when the sanctions regime was lifted after the US invasion, Hamoodi sent an average of $25,000 each year back to Iraq, totaling roughly $250,000 over the decade: an amount that fed and sustained the Iraqi relatives of 14 families in Columbia, Missouri, including his wife’s five siblings.

Nobody, including the US government, claims that these amounts were intended for anything other than humanitarian assistance for his family and those of others in his community. Everyone, including the US government, acknowledges that these funds were sent to and received only by the intended recipients - suffering Iraqi family members - and never got anywhere near Saddam’s regime, terrorist groups, or anything illicit. As a Newsweek article on the Hamoodi case made clear:

"The cash … was doled out mostly in dribs and drabs, even the authorities concede; $40 a month to the son of a friend trying to eat while attending medical school, $80 to Hamoodi’s blind mother. There was no suggestion that Hamoodi … aided terrorists, or that the money wound up in Saddam Hussein’s hands; his elaborate email trail served as receipts, as tidy as his bookkeeping at the store.

“‘I would get messages from my sisters, I have 11 siblings,’ he says, as he shares a somber meal - piquant red peppers from South Africa, French cheeses, crusty baklava - with his wife and sons at the long dining room table. ‘They would be starving. Starving. So I did what anyone, any American, would do.’”


But in 2002 and 2003, Hamoodi was not just a nuclear engineer. He was also a very outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s plan to attack Iraq. And his position as a nuclear engineer made him a particularly potent threat to the case for that invasion, as he continuously insisted that Saddam did not have an active nuclear weapons program and that the case for the war was grounded in lies. In his antiwar activism, he emphasized how much already-suffering Iraqi civilians would suffer more, and how the invasion would lead to mass instability.

Finish the article here

Americans already detained under NDAA?
September 28, 2012
The plaintiffs that are suing US President Barack Obama over his insistence on keeping the National Defense Authorization Act on the books said Thursday that they fear Americans are already being held indefinitely and without trial under the NDAA.
US President Barack Obama refrained from even once commenting on his efforts to keep his power to indefinitely detain Americans without charge when he appeared on Reddit.com recently and urged users to “Ask Me Anything.” His opponents in the matter aren’t shying away from speaking up online, though.
The plaintiffs in the case to ban the White House from imprisoning Americans indefinitely without trial or due justice took to Reddit on Thursday to answer questions involving the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012, or the NDAA, and blamed corrupt media and a broken governmental establishment for letting the Obama administration maintain its to book Americans in military prisons without charge.
On December 31, 2011, President Obama authorized the NDAA, and with it he approved a controversial provision that permits the government to indefinitely detain US citizens without trial for mere allegations of ties to suspected terrorists. Journalists and activists filed a lawsuit against the president earlier this year over the provision, Section 1021, which US Federal Judge Katherine Forrest in turn agreed was unconstitutional. Last month Judge Forrest decided that anearlier, temporary injunction on the clause should be made permanent, but the Obama Justice Department pleaded for an emergency stay only hours later. A lone federal appeals judge has since heard that plea and has momentarilyblocked Judge Forrest’s injunction. Now pending the results of an appeals panel’s formal investigation, the NDAA’s indefinite detention provision remains on the books.
On Thursday, the plaintiffs in the case — journalist Chris Hedges, activist Tangerine Bolen, Pentagon Papers leaker Dan Ellsberg, their attorneys and others — told users of Reddit to ask them anything.
“The Obama DOJ has vigorously opposed these efforts, and immediately appealed her ruling and requested an emergency stay on the injunction – claiming the US would incur ‘irreparable harm’ if the president lost the power to use Section 1021 – and detain anyone, anywhere until the end of hostilities on a whim. This case will probably make its way to the Supreme Court,” the plaintiffs acknowledged in their introduction.
From there, President Obama’s opponents in federal court combed through hundreds of posts to answer questions regarding the NDAA over the course of several hours. And although the plaintiffs have not exactly been silent with the status of their fight since suing the White House earlier this year, the insight they offered on Reddit provided a fresh update on the case against the NDAA amid some of the government’s most unusual legal maneuvers yet.
Offering his take on the case, Hedges said that he even believes the NDAA’s indefinite detention clause is already being used to imprison Americans, “because they filed an emergency appeal.”
“If the Obama administration simply appealed it, as we expected, it would have raised this red flag,” Hedges added.“But since they were so aggressive it means that once Judge Forrest declared the law invalid, if they were using it, as we expect, they could be held in contempt of court. This was quite disturbing, for it means, I suspect, that US citizens, probably dual nationals, are being held in military detention facilities almost certainly overseas and maybe at home.”
“The signing statement is the most ridiculous part to this for me. He writes this statement saying he’s not happy about the power existing, but then his administration fights so hard to keep that specific power in place,” Reddit user devilrobotjesus responded.
“If Obama didn’t want it to happen, he would not have signed it, especially after stating that he would veto it,” co-counsel Carl Mayer explained. Mayer has represented the plaintiffs in the case of Hedges v. Obama and said that he plans on continuing his pursuit to take indefinite detention off the books.
“We will do whatever it takes,” Mayers added. “We are prepared for a Supreme Court battle.”
Activist and journalist Tangerine Bolen is also insistent on prevailing over the Obama administration, but says “The biggest obstruction to our winning this case … is our broken systems.” Bolen blames a lack of media coverage, insufficient public awareness “and the government behaving very badly, even in court, on the record,” for the difficulties the plaintiffs have had to endure, adding that the Obama administration’s constant missteps have been noticed by no one except “seven plaintiffs, four attorneys, one federal judge and the activists who have been following this case.”
“Amazing,” she added.
Journalist Chris Hedges extrapolated on Bolen’s opinion, singling out “a corporate-owned system of information” for not informing Americans that they can be imprisoned without trial at this very moment.
“MSNBC, which is a propaganda arm of the Democratic establishment, just as Fox is a propaganda arm of the Republican establishment, is not going to raise this as Obama is as guilty as Romney. If we had a healthy press this would have gotten more coverage, although the print media, and in particular my old paper the NY Times, finally did good coverage,” Hedges wrote.
Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department employee who achieved notoriety a generation earlier by leaking what became known as the Pentagon Papers, agreed that the system is severely in fault in this instance.
“Virtually every public institution has failed us gravely. Not only the executive, but the courts, congress, most of the media and most of the churches,” Ellsberg wrote on Reddit. “Radical reform is needed, even to the point of non-violent revolution. “
Source

Americans already detained under NDAA?

September 28, 2012

The plaintiffs that are suing US President Barack Obama over his insistence on keeping the National Defense Authorization Act on the books said Thursday that they fear Americans are already being held indefinitely and without trial under the NDAA.

US President Barack Obama refrained from even once commenting on his efforts to keep his power to indefinitely detain Americans without charge when he appeared on Reddit.com recently and urged users to “Ask Me Anything.” His opponents in the matter aren’t shying away from speaking up online, though.

The plaintiffs in the case to ban the White House from imprisoning Americans indefinitely without trial or due justice took to Reddit on Thursday to answer questions involving the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012, or the NDAA, and blamed corrupt media and a broken governmental establishment for letting the Obama administration maintain its to book Americans in military prisons without charge.

On December 31, 2011, President Obama authorized the NDAA, and with it he approved a controversial provision that permits the government to indefinitely detain US citizens without trial for mere allegations of ties to suspected terrorists. Journalists and activists filed a lawsuit against the president earlier this year over the provision, Section 1021, which US Federal Judge Katherine Forrest in turn agreed was unconstitutional. Last month Judge Forrest decided that anearlier, temporary injunction on the clause should be made permanent, but the Obama Justice Department pleaded for an emergency stay only hours later. A lone federal appeals judge has since heard that plea and has momentarilyblocked Judge Forrest’s injunction. Now pending the results of an appeals panel’s formal investigation, the NDAA’s indefinite detention provision remains on the books.

On Thursday, the plaintiffs in the case — journalist Chris Hedges, activist Tangerine Bolen, Pentagon Papers leaker Dan Ellsberg, their attorneys and others — told users of Reddit to ask them anything.

“The Obama DOJ has vigorously opposed these efforts, and immediately appealed her ruling and requested an emergency stay on the injunction – claiming the US would incur ‘irreparable harm’ if the president lost the power to use Section 1021 – and detain anyone, anywhere until the end of hostilities on a whim. This case will probably make its way to the Supreme Court,” the plaintiffs acknowledged in their introduction.

From there, President Obama’s opponents in federal court combed through hundreds of posts to answer questions regarding the NDAA over the course of several hours. And although the plaintiffs have not exactly been silent with the status of their fight since suing the White House earlier this year, the insight they offered on Reddit provided a fresh update on the case against the NDAA amid some of the government’s most unusual legal maneuvers yet.

Offering his take on the case, Hedges said that he even believes the NDAA’s indefinite detention clause is already being used to imprison Americans, “because they filed an emergency appeal.”

“If the Obama administration simply appealed it, as we expected, it would have raised this red flag,” Hedges added.“But since they were so aggressive it means that once Judge Forrest declared the law invalid, if they were using it, as we expect, they could be held in contempt of court. This was quite disturbing, for it means, I suspect, that US citizens, probably dual nationals, are being held in military detention facilities almost certainly overseas and maybe at home.”

“The signing statement is the most ridiculous part to this for me. He writes this statement saying he’s not happy about the power existing, but then his administration fights so hard to keep that specific power in place,” Reddit user devilrobotjesus responded.

“If Obama didn’t want it to happen, he would not have signed it, especially after stating that he would veto it,” co-counsel Carl Mayer explained. Mayer has represented the plaintiffs in the case of Hedges v. Obama and said that he plans on continuing his pursuit to take indefinite detention off the books.

“We will do whatever it takes,” Mayers added. “We are prepared for a Supreme Court battle.”

Activist and journalist Tangerine Bolen is also insistent on prevailing over the Obama administration, but says “The biggest obstruction to our winning this case … is our broken systems.” Bolen blames a lack of media coverage, insufficient public awareness “and the government behaving very badly, even in court, on the record,” for the difficulties the plaintiffs have had to endure, adding that the Obama administration’s constant missteps have been noticed by no one except “seven plaintiffs, four attorneys, one federal judge and the activists who have been following this case.”

“Amazing,” she added.

Journalist Chris Hedges extrapolated on Bolen’s opinion, singling out “a corporate-owned system of information” for not informing Americans that they can be imprisoned without trial at this very moment.

“MSNBC, which is a propaganda arm of the Democratic establishment, just as Fox is a propaganda arm of the Republican establishment, is not going to raise this as Obama is as guilty as Romney. If we had a healthy press this would have gotten more coverage, although the print media, and in particular my old paper the NY Times, finally did good coverage,” Hedges wrote.

Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department employee who achieved notoriety a generation earlier by leaking what became known as the Pentagon Papers, agreed that the system is severely in fault in this instance.

“Virtually every public institution has failed us gravely. Not only the executive, but the courts, congress, most of the media and most of the churches,” Ellsberg wrote on Reddit. “Radical reform is needed, even to the point of non-violent revolution. “

Source

Remember: the US, we’re frequently told, is in Afghanistan to bring democracy to the Afghan people and to teach them about freedom. But the Afghan government is refusing the US demand to imprison people without charges on the ground that such lawless detention violates their conceptions of basic freedom. Maybe Afghanistan should invade the US in order to teach Americans about freedom.
White House demands military prisons for Americans under NDAASeptember 18, 2012
The White House has asked the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals to place an emergency stay on a ruling made last week by a federal judge so that the president’s power to indefinitely detain Americans without charge is reaffirmed immediately.
On Wednesday, September 12, US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest made permanent a temporary injunction she issued in May that bars the federal government from abiding by the indefinite detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or NDAA. Judge Forrest ruled that a clause that gives the government the power to arrest US citizens suspected of maintaining alliances with terrorists and hold them without due process violated the Constitution and that the White House would be stripped of that ability immediately.
Only hours after Judge Forrest issued last week’s ruling, the Obama administration threatened to appeal the decision, and on Monday morning they followed through.
At around 9 a.m. Monday, September 17, the White House filed an emergency stay in federal appeals court in an effort to have the Second Circuit strip away Judge Forrest’s ruling from the week earlier.
“Almost immediately after Judge Forrest ruled, the Obama administration challenged the decision,” writes Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist that is listed as the lead plaintiff in the case. According to Hedges, the government called Judge Forrest’s most recent ruling an “extraordinary injunction of worldwide scope,” and Executive Branch attorneys worked into the weekend to find a way to file their stay.
“The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the Second Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the Second Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction,” Hedges writes. “This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard. The government’s decision has triggered a constitutional showdown between the president and the judiciary.”
Attorney Carl Mayer, a counsel for Hedges and his co-plaintiffs, confirmed to RT early Monday that the stay was in fact filed with the Second Circuit.
“This may be the most significant constitutional standoff since the Pentagon Papers case,” Carl Mayer says in a separate statement posted on Mr. Hedge’s blog.
Bruce Afran, who serves as co-lead counsel along with Mayer, tells Hedges that the White House could be waging a war against the injunction to ensure that the Obama administration has ample time to turn the NDAA against any protesters participating in domestic demonstrations.
“A Department of Homeland Security bulletin was issued Friday claiming that the riots [in the Middle East] are likely to come to the US and saying that DHS is looking for the Islamic leaders of these likely riots,” Afran tells Hedges. “It is my view that this is why the government wants to reopen the NDAA — so it has a tool to round up would-be Islamic protesters before they can launch any protest, violent or otherwise. Right now there are no legal tools to arrest would-be protesters. The NDAA would give the government such power. Since the request to vacate the injunction only comes about on the day of the riots, and following the DHS bulletin, it seems to me that the two are connected. The government wants to reopen the NDAA injunction so that they can use it to block protests.”
Hedges, who has previously reported for papers including the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor, argued that his job as a journalist requires him to routinely interact and converse with persons that may be considered terrorists in the eyes of the US government.
Under the NDAA, Americans “who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners” can be held in prison cells “until the end of hostilities,” vague verbiage that essentially allows for those suspect of such associations to be decided under the discretion of US President Barack Obama or any federal agent underneath him.
“Because the language is so vague in this law,” Mr. Mayer explains to RT, “if any journalist or activist is seen as reporting or offering opinions about groups that could somehow be linked not just to al-Qaeda but to any opponent of the United States or even opponents of our allies”
“I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge,”Hedges wrote when he first filed his suit in January. “I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have ‘disappeared’ into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.”
Monday morning, Hedges once more responded to the White House’s relentless attempts to reauthorize powers granted under the NDAA, asking, “If the administration is this anxious to restore this section of the NDAA, is it because the Obama government has already used it? Or does it have plans to use the section in the immediate future?”
“The decision to vigorously fight Forrest’s ruling is a further example of the Obama White House’s steady and relentless assault against civil liberties, an assault that is more severe than that carried out by George W. Bush,”writes Hedges. “Obama has refused to restore habeas corpus. He supports the FISA Amendment Act, which retroactively makes legal what under our Constitution has traditionally been illegal — warrantless wire tapping, eavesdropping and monitoring directed against US citizens. He has used the Espionage Act six times against whistle-blowers who have exposed government crimes, including war crimes, to the public. He interprets the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act as giving him the authority to assassinate US citizens, as he did the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. And now he wants the right to use the armed forces to throw U.S. citizens into military prisons, where they will have no right to a trial and no defined length of detention.”
In his latest blog post, Hedges acknowledges, “The government has now lost four times in a litigation that has gone on almost nine months.”
Source
So even though a judge found multiple parts of the NDAA to be unconstitutional, Obama’s administration is still fighting to indefinitely detain Americans in military prisons. 
Yay, democracy.
Update: Obama wins the right to indefinitely detain Americans without due process. 

White House demands military prisons for Americans under NDAA
September 18, 2012

The White House has asked the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals to place an emergency stay on a ruling made last week by a federal judge so that the president’s power to indefinitely detain Americans without charge is reaffirmed immediately.

On Wednesday, September 12, US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest made permanent a temporary injunction she issued in May that bars the federal government from abiding by the indefinite detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or NDAA. Judge Forrest ruled that a clause that gives the government the power to arrest US citizens suspected of maintaining alliances with terrorists and hold them without due process violated the Constitution and that the White House would be stripped of that ability immediately.

Only hours after Judge Forrest issued last week’s ruling, the Obama administration threatened to appeal the decision, and on Monday morning they followed through.

At around 9 a.m. Monday, September 17, the White House filed an emergency stay in federal appeals court in an effort to have the Second Circuit strip away Judge Forrest’s ruling from the week earlier.

“Almost immediately after Judge Forrest ruled, the Obama administration challenged the decision,” writes Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist that is listed as the lead plaintiff in the case. According to Hedges, the government called Judge Forrest’s most recent ruling an “extraordinary injunction of worldwide scope,” and Executive Branch attorneys worked into the weekend to find a way to file their stay.

“The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the Second Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the Second Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction,” Hedges writes. “This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard. The government’s decision has triggered a constitutional showdown between the president and the judiciary.”

Attorney Carl Mayer, a counsel for Hedges and his co-plaintiffs, confirmed to RT early Monday that the stay was in fact filed with the Second Circuit.

“This may be the most significant constitutional standoff since the Pentagon Papers case,” Carl Mayer says in a separate statement posted on Mr. Hedge’s blog.

Bruce Afran, who serves as co-lead counsel along with Mayer, tells Hedges that the White House could be waging a war against the injunction to ensure that the Obama administration has ample time to turn the NDAA against any protesters participating in domestic demonstrations.

“A Department of Homeland Security bulletin was issued Friday claiming that the riots [in the Middle East] are likely to come to the US and saying that DHS is looking for the Islamic leaders of these likely riots,” Afran tells Hedges. “It is my view that this is why the government wants to reopen the NDAA — so it has a tool to round up would-be Islamic protesters before they can launch any protest, violent or otherwise. Right now there are no legal tools to arrest would-be protesters. The NDAA would give the government such power. Since the request to vacate the injunction only comes about on the day of the riots, and following the DHS bulletin, it seems to me that the two are connected. The government wants to reopen the NDAA injunction so that they can use it to block protests.”

Hedges, who has previously reported for papers including the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor, argued that his job as a journalist requires him to routinely interact and converse with persons that may be considered terrorists in the eyes of the US government.

Under the NDAA, Americans “who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners” can be held in prison cells “until the end of hostilities,” vague verbiage that essentially allows for those suspect of such associations to be decided under the discretion of US President Barack Obama or any federal agent underneath him.

“Because the language is so vague in this law,” Mr. Mayer explains to RT, “if any journalist or activist is seen as reporting or offering opinions about groups that could somehow be linked not just to al-Qaeda but to any opponent of the United States or even opponents of our allies”

“I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge,”Hedges wrote when he first filed his suit in January. “I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have ‘disappeared’ into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.”

Monday morning, Hedges once more responded to the White House’s relentless attempts to reauthorize powers granted under the NDAA, asking, “If the administration is this anxious to restore this section of the NDAA, is it because the Obama government has already used it? Or does it have plans to use the section in the immediate future?”

“The decision to vigorously fight Forrest’s ruling is a further example of the Obama White House’s steady and relentless assault against civil liberties, an assault that is more severe than that carried out by George W. Bush,”writes Hedges. “Obama has refused to restore habeas corpus. He supports the FISA Amendment Act, which retroactively makes legal what under our Constitution has traditionally been illegal — warrantless wire tapping, eavesdropping and monitoring directed against US citizens. He has used the Espionage Act six times against whistle-blowers who have exposed government crimes, including war crimes, to the public. He interprets the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act as giving him the authority to assassinate US citizens, as he did the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. And now he wants the right to use the armed forces to throw U.S. citizens into military prisons, where they will have no right to a trial and no defined length of detention.”

In his latest blog post, Hedges acknowledges, “The government has now lost four times in a litigation that has gone on almost nine months.”

Source

So even though a judge found multiple parts of the NDAA to be unconstitutional, Obama’s administration is still fighting to indefinitely detain Americans in military prisons. 

Yay, democracy.

Update: Obama wins the right to indefinitely detain Americans without due process. 

Obama’s NDAA (Indefinite military detention of citizens) ruled unconstitutionalSeptember 13, 2012
The Obama administration’s efforts to enshrine sweeping 9/11-era rollbacks of civil liberties and constitutional rights as federal law hit a serious roadblock yesterday, as a federal judge struck down clauses of the National Defense Authorization Act as unconstitutional.
The offending section of the NDAA, signed by Obama on New Year’s Eve last year, grants the government the power to put citizens in military detention indefinitely and without the usual recourse to civil courts.
Chris Hedges, along with other writers and activists including Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky, challenged the law soon after in a federal lawsuit.

They argued that the phrasing of the law, which allows for the detention of anyone who has “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners,” is so broad that in infringes on their own first-amendment rights.
Judge Katherine Forrest, a recent Obama appointee to the federal bench, was clearly sympathetic, and granted a preliminary injunction of the offending sections of the law.
The parties were back in court for further arguments last month for further arguments, but by Forrest’s close questioning of administration lawyers, it was clear she still wasn’t buying the government’s argument.
That impression was confirmed yesterday with Forrest’s 112-page ruling, which resoundingly dismisses the law as unconstitutional:
The Government did not—and does not—generally agree or anywhere argue that activities protected by the First Amendment could not subject an individual to indefinite military detention under § 1021(b)(2). The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for greater protection: it prohibits Congress from passing any law abridging speech and associational rights. To the extent that § 1021(b)(2) purports to encompass protected First Amendment activities, it is unconstitutionally overbroad.
First amendment rights aren’t the only constitutional problem with the law, Forrest continues:
The due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment require that an individual understand what conduct might subject him or her to criminal or civil penalties. Here, the stakes get no higher: indefinite military detention—potential detention during a war on terrorism that is not expected to end in the foreseeable future, if ever. The Constitution requires specificity—and that specificity is absent from § 1021(b)(2).
Forrest is particularly dismissive of the government’s argument that the issue is none of the court’s business, and that at most, courts can consider individual habeas corpus petitions from already-detained prisoners.
That argument is without merit and, indeed, dangerous…. If only habeas review is available to those detained under § 1021(b)(2), even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, core constitutional rights available in criminal matters would simply be eliminated. No court can accept this proposition and adhere truthfully to its oath.
Speaking with the Voice Wednesday night, Hedges said he is happy with the ruling.
"I’m elated," he said. "This judge is amazing. She had the courage to do the right thing in an age when most judges write long opinions about why they can’t do the right thing."
There’s good reason to temper the elation, however. The government is almost certain to appeal the ruling. Indeed, the administration already has appealed the temporary injunction granted in May.
"That’s all right," Hedges said Wednsday. "If they appeal, we’ll fight them, and we’ll keep fighting them, and we’ll fight them until we win."
Source
And people want to vote for this man who wants to indefinitely detain citizens in military prisons without due process?
The NDAA would light the First & Fifth Amendment up in flames.

Obama’s NDAA (Indefinite military detention of citizens) ruled unconstitutional
September 13, 2012

The Obama administration’s efforts to enshrine sweeping 9/11-era rollbacks of civil liberties and constitutional rights as federal law hit a serious roadblock yesterday, as a federal judge struck down clauses of the National Defense Authorization Act as unconstitutional.

The offending section of the NDAA, signed by Obama on New Year’s Eve last year, grants the government the power to put citizens in military detention indefinitely and without the usual recourse to civil courts.

Chris Hedges, along with other writers and activists including Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky, challenged the law soon after in a federal lawsuit.

They argued that the phrasing of the law, which allows for the detention of anyone who has “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners,” is so broad that in infringes on their own first-amendment rights.

Judge Katherine Forrest, a recent Obama appointee to the federal bench, was clearly sympathetic, and granted a preliminary injunction of the offending sections of the law.

The parties were back in court for further arguments last month for further arguments, but by Forrest’s close questioning of administration lawyers, it was clear she still wasn’t buying the government’s argument.

That impression was confirmed yesterday with Forrest’s 112-page ruling, which resoundingly dismisses the law as unconstitutional:

The Government did not—and does not—generally agree or anywhere argue that activities protected by the First Amendment could not subject an individual to indefinite military detention under § 1021(b)(2). The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for greater protection: it prohibits Congress from passing any law abridging speech and associational rights. To the extent that § 1021(b)(2) purports to encompass protected First Amendment activities, it is unconstitutionally overbroad.

First amendment rights aren’t the only constitutional problem with the law, Forrest continues:

The due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment require that an individual understand what conduct might subject him or her to criminal or civil penalties. Here, the stakes get no higher: indefinite military detention—potential detention during a war on terrorism that is not expected to end in the foreseeable future, if ever. The Constitution requires specificity—and that specificity is absent from § 1021(b)(2).

Forrest is particularly dismissive of the government’s argument that the issue is none of the court’s business, and that at most, courts can consider individual habeas corpus petitions from already-detained prisoners.

That argument is without merit and, indeed, dangerous…. If only habeas review is available to those detained under § 1021(b)(2), even U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, core constitutional rights available in criminal matters would simply be eliminated. No court can accept this proposition and adhere truthfully to its oath.

Speaking with the Voice Wednesday night, Hedges said he is happy with the ruling.

"I’m elated," he said. "This judge is amazing. She had the courage to do the right thing in an age when most judges write long opinions about why they can’t do the right thing."

There’s good reason to temper the elation, however. The government is almost certain to appeal the ruling. Indeed, the administration already has appealed the temporary injunction granted in May.

"That’s all right," Hedges said Wednsday. "If they appeal, we’ll fight them, and we’ll keep fighting them, and we’ll fight them until we win."

Source

And people want to vote for this man who wants to indefinitely detain citizens in military prisons without due process?

The NDAA would light the First & Fifth Amendment up in flames.

NDAA on trial: White House refuses to abide with ban against indefinite detention of AmericansAugust 10, 2012
Not only is the White House fighting in court for the power to jail Americans indefinitely without trial, but the Obama administration is refusing to tell a federal judge if they’ve abided by an injunction that prohibits them from such.
Attorneys for the White House have been in-and-out of court in Manhattan this week to argue that the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, or NDAA, are necessary for the safety and security of the nation. When President Barack Obama signed the bill on December 31, he granted the government the power to put any American away in jail over even suspected terrorist ties, but federal court Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in May that this particular part of the NDAA, Section 1021, failed to “pass constitutional muster” and ordered a temporary injunction.
On Monday, White House attorneys asked for an appeal for that injunction so that they’d be once more legally permitted to indefinitely detain anyone over mere accusations. When specifically asked to answer whether or not they’ve adhered by Judge Forrest’s injunction so far, though, administration attorneys refused to cooperate with the questioning.
Activist and reporter Tangerine Bolen is a plaintiff in the case against the NDAA, and in an op-ed published Thursday in the Daily Cloudt, she writes that the federal attorneys asking for an appeal have declined to reveal whether or not they’ve cooperated with the judge’s May 2012 injunction. If the government has arrested anyone over alleged“belligerent ties” since Judge Forrest ordered a temporary stay, the government could be in contempt of court.
“Obama’s attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA’s section 1021 – the provision that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial – has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world after Judge Forrest’s injunction,” Tangerine tells Daily Cloudt. “In other words, they were telling a US federal judge that they could not, or would not, state whether Obama’s government had complied with the legal injunction that she had laid down before them.”
In its original form, the NDAA allows the military hold anyone accused of having “substantially supported” al-Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces" until "the end of hostilities” and indefinitely imprison anyone who commits a“belligerent act” against the United States, yet fails to explicitly define what is constituted as such. In her injunction, Judge Forrest said, "In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more.”
"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,” the judge ruled.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges is also a plaintiff in the case and along with Tangerine warns that his own investigative work could be construed by the government to put him away in prison for life.
“I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists,” Hedges wrote earlier this year, “but that does not make me one.”
Carl Mayer, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, told RT that he expected the White House to appeal the judge’s injunction, but that he considered it a lost cause.
"[W]e are suggesting that it may not be in their best interest because there are so many people from all sides of the political spectrum opposed to this law that they ought to just say, ‘We’re not going to appeal,’” Mayer said.
Mayer stated that, because of the injunction, “The NDAA cannot be used to pick up Americans in a proverbial black van or in any other way that the administration might decide to try to get people into the military justice system. It means that the government is foreclosed now from engaging in this type of action against the civil liberties of Americans.” Now, however, the White House wants the power to be once more restored.
Outside of federal court on Thursday, Hedges appeared pleased, Courthouse News reports.
“It didn’t appear to me by the end that [the government] had any argument to stand on,” Hedges said. "The judge eviscerated them."
Even with the injunction still standing, though, the government has yet to admit if it’s adhering to Judge Forrest’s ruling.
Source

NDAA on trial: White House refuses to abide with ban against indefinite detention of Americans
August 10, 2012

Not only is the White House fighting in court for the power to jail Americans indefinitely without trial, but the Obama administration is refusing to tell a federal judge if they’ve abided by an injunction that prohibits them from such.

Attorneys for the White House have been in-and-out of court in Manhattan this week to argue that the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, or NDAA, are necessary for the safety and security of the nation. When President Barack Obama signed the bill on December 31, he granted the government the power to put any American away in jail over even suspected terrorist ties, but federal court Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in May that this particular part of the NDAA, Section 1021, failed to “pass constitutional muster” and ordered a temporary injunction.

On Monday, White House attorneys asked for an appeal for that injunction so that they’d be once more legally permitted to indefinitely detain anyone over mere accusations. When specifically asked to answer whether or not they’ve adhered by Judge Forrest’s injunction so far, though, administration attorneys refused to cooperate with the questioning.

Activist and reporter Tangerine Bolen is a plaintiff in the case against the NDAA, and in an op-ed published Thursday in the Daily Cloudt, she writes that the federal attorneys asking for an appeal have declined to reveal whether or not they’ve cooperated with the judge’s May 2012 injunction. If the government has arrested anyone over alleged“belligerent ties” since Judge Forrest ordered a temporary stay, the government could be in contempt of court.

“Obama’s attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned, that the NDAA’s section 1021 – the provision that permits reporters and others who have not committed crimes to be detained without trial – has not been applied by the US government anywhere in the world after Judge Forrest’s injunction,” Tangerine tells Daily Cloudt. “In other words, they were telling a US federal judge that they could not, or would not, state whether Obama’s government had complied with the legal injunction that she had laid down before them.”

In its original form, the NDAA allows the military hold anyone accused of having “substantially supported” al-Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces" until "the end of hostilities” and indefinitely imprison anyone who commits a“belligerent act” against the United States, yet fails to explicitly define what is constituted as such. In her injunction, Judge Forrest said, "In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more.”

"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,” the judge ruled.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges is also a plaintiff in the case and along with Tangerine warns that his own investigative work could be construed by the government to put him away in prison for life.

“I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists,” Hedges wrote earlier this year, “but that does not make me one.”

Carl Mayer, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, told RT that he expected the White House to appeal the judge’s injunction, but that he considered it a lost cause.

"[W]e are suggesting that it may not be in their best interest because there are so many people from all sides of the political spectrum opposed to this law that they ought to just say, ‘We’re not going to appeal,’” Mayer said.

Mayer stated that, because of the injunction, “The NDAA cannot be used to pick up Americans in a proverbial black van or in any other way that the administration might decide to try to get people into the military justice system. It means that the government is foreclosed now from engaging in this type of action against the civil liberties of Americans.” Now, however, the White House wants the power to be once more restored.

Outside of federal court on Thursday, Hedges appeared pleased, Courthouse News reports.

“It didn’t appear to me by the end that [the government] had any argument to stand on,” Hedges said. "The judge eviscerated them."

Even with the injunction still standing, though, the government has yet to admit if it’s adhering to Judge Forrest’s ruling.

Source