Last week was a landmark week for the erosion of your civil liberties. While mouth breathing Americans joined with doomsday preppers and semi-automatic wielding quail hunters to dominate the airwaves with outrage over the perceived loss of their rights under the 2nd Amendment, the US government pressed ahead with measures that quietly dismantle the 5th.
On Monday, NBC News published an unclassified Justice Department document indicating that suspected al-Qaeda operators or their “associated forces” may be lawfully targeted and assassinated, even if they are US citizens, and even if they are not thought to be actively plotting an attack.
Then on Wednesday, the Obama Administration was back in court to defend its right to use the United States military against its own citizens. Section 1021 (b) (2) of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by Obama, gives the military the right to arrest and indefinitely detain US citizens without due process of law.
The exact wording of the provision is as follows:
“A person who was a 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, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces”
Plaintiffs in the case Hedges v. Obama (as in journalist and author Chris Hedges) argue that several terms including “substantially supported”, “associated forces” and “belligerent act” are overly vague. If they wanted to, the U.S. government could interpret them to include journalists who report on terrorist groups and political activists critical of the Obama administration’s policies.
The provision also states:
“Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.”
The term “the end of hostilities” is hauntingly open-ended. Attorney Carl Mayer pointed out Wednesday that we are on day 4,163 of an open ended war against al-Qaeda. There are pitifully few signs that the defense industry will ever turn its $350 million F-22 fighters into $350 million plowshares anytime soon.‘Hostilities’ could arguably last forever.
Hedges described the NDAA as “The final battle between the restoration of due process and the imposition of a military state.”
Meanwhile, the corporate media attended to Beyonce’s sexy performance and incredible…voice. Nary a peep was mentioned about the NDAA case. The only news agencies at the courthouse were Democracy Now, RT, HispaniTV and rumor has it Reuters.
The panel discussion with the plaintiffs was covered exclusive by independent media outlets; again Democracy Now, an Occupy media presence, and myself covering for WBAI Radio in NY, the The Young Turks Online Network, and you.
You can find the full panels online. I was able to snag this powerful backstage interview with one of the plaintiffs. You may recognize him from a little controversy involving what’s come to be known as the Pentagon Papers. That’s right, legendary whistle blower Daniel Ellsberg said the following:
“They are reversing freedoms we’ve had since the Magna Carta.”
‘They’ve made (Wikileaks founder) Julian Assange an enemy of the state… and for that matter they really think of the public in those (same) terms.”
“The President hasn’t formally legalized the death squad part but (he) is pronouncing it as a proud aspect of his functions.”
The whole interview is here:
The Fifth Amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
As of right now, a federal court in New York had issued a permanent injunction blocking the indefinite detention powers of the NDAA but the injunction was stayed pending Wednesday’s appeal by the Obama Administration. Stay tuned.