On Wednesday, February 6, in Foley Square, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard the oral arguments for and against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Indefinite Detention Provision (Section 1021(b)(2). Judge Katherine Forrest’s earlier ruling in September 2012 had issued a permanent injunction against Section 1021(b)(2) (Hedges v. Obama). The judge delivered a 112 page opinion, from which I quote, “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…” We may not have a ruling on this appeal until later this spring. Then, no matter which way the judges decide, this case is on its way to the Supreme Court. What hangs in the balance is nothing less than whether this nation will remain under the rule of civil law or become a military state.
You may well ask, “What is exactly is Section 1021(b)(2), and why haven’t I heard of it before?” I’ll try to answer these questions one at a time.
First, Section 1021(b)(2) is a provision added to the NDAA by the Obama administration that permits the military to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, who “substantially support” (an undefined legal term) al-Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces” (another undefined term). Those detained can be imprisoned indefinitely by the military and denied due process until “the end of hostilities.” In the age of terrorism, this could mean for life. In addition, because of the section’s vague language, it could conceivably mean anyone, including you and me. Whoever speaks out or supports critics of the government’s policies could be considered “covered persons,” meaning they have given “substantial support” to terrorists or other “associated groups.” In other words, Section 1021(b)(2), or the Indefinite Detention Act, empowers the government to seize any U.S. citizen whom it deems suspicious and ship the detainee to one of the many jails located in the most repressive regimes on earth, without habeas corpus.
The chief plaintiff is former Pulitzer prize-winning The New York Times correspondent, current Truthdig.com columnist and author, Chris Hedges. Mr. Hedges and others, including the keeper of the flame Noam Chomsky and whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, filed the original lawsuit against the Indefinite Detention Provision on January 13, 2012 (Hedges v. Obama). They contend that Section 1021(b)(2), due to the vague nature of its language, arms the U.S. military with the ability to imprison, indefinitely, journalists, activists, and human-rights workers. On September 12, 2012, Judge Katherine Forrest fundamentally agreed and issued a permanent injunction against indefinite detention powers of the NDAA, Section 1021(b)(2), on the grounds of unconstitutionality. The Obama administration won a temporary stay against the injunction, arguing that its ability to fight terrorism would otherwise be impeded.
That brief history brings us to the appeal heard last Wednesday and the second question, “why haven’t I heard about this?” Good question. There were no cameras from NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX or CNN in front of the courthouse in Foley Square. As far as I know, no major newspaper, certainly not the The New York Times has covered the case. The only reports came from Democracy Now!, a few other independent media outlets and now the WestView News.
In an interview with Kevin Kelly of the Washington Times Communities, Chris Hedges said,
“It’s harder and harder to find out what’s going on, especially over the commercial airwaves that have descended into trivial celebrity gossip and info-entertainment. MSNBC and Fox are purportedly news channels, but they’re not. They serve the interests of two factions within the ruling elite. I worry that we as a culture are severing ourselves from print, and the skillful manipulation of images is largely in the hands of people who are not our friends.
I think print is key, I think reading is key, and I think that people have to be proactive about seeking out information because if they rely passively on established systems of information, and the NDAA is an example of that, they’re just not going to know what is going on in their own country.”
The WestView News will do its best to keep you informed about Hedges v. Obama and any other vitally important news items not being covered by the corporate-owned media. In the meantime, please google Hedges v. Obama to learn more.