The National Defense Authorization Act is back in court, thanks to a lawsuit filed by independent journalist Chris Hedges. Hedges was joined by other anti-NDAA activists, suing the Obama administration over the “indefinite detention” provision in the act. The provision would allow the U.S. government to jail or detain anyone it considers a terrorism suspect without due process. Those detained can then be sent to a foreign country, potentially one with a repressive regime that employs torture. Think Guantanamo Bay.
The activists are back in court after to an appeal by the Obama administration. Last week, the Justice Department asked the federal appeals court to reverse a ruling that blocked indefinite detention, citing that it could negatively affect the U.S.’s ability to fight terrorism. A judge in the Southern District of New York had originally struck down the provision, stating it violated First and Fifth Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.
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The case, known as Hedges vs. Obama, claims that the vagueness of the terms used in the provision (terms like people who “substantially support” al Qaeda, the Taliban or other “associated forces”) could be used by the U.S. government to wrongly label critics, journalists or political activists as “associated forces,” and therefore, terrorist suspects.
Hedges writes for Truthdig, an alternative news site. He stated that if the plaintiffs lose this case, the government will seize unchecked power, creating “a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags.” He writes that if the indefinite detention provision holds, the country’s inevitable decline “will be one of repression, blood and suffering.”
A decision is not expected until spring, when the Supreme Court hears another case involving Hedges regarding the use of electronic surveillance.
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