It’s not a rumor; President Obama did recently sign the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2013. And while the Act provides funding for the US Military, it also contains what is arguably the most egregious broad language giving law enforcement and military the power to arrest, detain and imprison anyone without any rights to attorneys, speedy trial or family advocates.
I recently spoke with Tangerine Bolen – a co-plaintiff and founder of RevolutionTruth – in the lawsuit against this unconstitutional overreach of the United States Government.
On September 12, 2012 one of the largest victories for civil liberties and against government overreach in a decade was brought against the government. Judge Forrest granted a permanent injunction against Section 1021(b) (2). However, the government promptly filed an appeal, and then went further: they requested a stay of execution on the injunction from Judge Forrest, once again providing no evidence and failing to answer all of her questions and concerns, while again claiming that the detention powers of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2001, (The law that allows the president to detain those who were involved in the 9/11 attacks and/or are members of Al Qaeda or the Taliban) and the NDAA’s Section 1021(b) (2) powers are precisely the same.
According to the Stop NDAA website, “This is disingenuous. Section 1021(b) (2) provides sweeping powers of detention through incredibly vague and undefined terms that are missing in the AUMF.” Hold that thought!
“The government is completely contradicting itself. Judge Forrest made it clear that her ruling did not touch the AUMF. And in their request for an emergency stay, the government claimed 'irreparable harm' would be incurred if they do not have the powers of Section 1021(b) (2).”
What is Section 1021(b) (2)?
Section 1021(b) (2) defines a 'covered person' – one subject to detention – as '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.”
The law, however, does not define the terms “substantially supported,” “directly supported” or “associated forces.” As it stands, the law violates the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments of the US Constitution and most of the Bill of Rights.
So, why does the government claim 'irreparable harm' in its emergency stay? Well, according to Ms. Bolen and Mr. Hedges, the government either has - for the last decade – overreached and used the AUMF illegally or plans to use the new 1021(b) (2) section in the future. If the former is true, it then becomes critical for the government to keep section 1021 (b) (2) at all costs so as to hide any past illegal detainment – which is a slightly overlooked talking point in the Hedges vs. Obama case.
According to Ms. Bolen, [They tried to claim] “The authorization for military force has always allowed this incredibly broad idea of powers for indefinite detention, which is not the case; and which we've proven in court.” Snip, “Section 1021(b) (2) extends the definition to the kind of people to which it can be applied. Anyone, anywhere can be accused by our government of being a suspected terrorist and locked up in a Military Prison indefinitely. Due process has been permanently suspended in this nation and for all people everywhere.” More to Ms. Bolen’s statements, she pointed out that the court did call Section 1021(b) (2) “An attempt to retroactively legislate powers the government never had.”
Our Current State
At this point in time, the NDAA is back in place – thanks to Obama’s emergency injunction. You or anyone can be arrested for exercising your right to free speech without due process and hidden away without trial indefinitely – no attorney, civil court, family & friends MAY NOT advocate on your behalf and you’ll be stuck in a Military Prison to await a military tribunal…someday.
The original AUMF of 2001 – under the Bush administration – has been significantly altered and broadened. It extends the category of people and associated forces to which indefinite detention can be applied. And this category is woefully undefined. But I think it’s safe to say, “ Whistle-blowers”, “Dissidents, “The OWS Movement” and “Political Journalists” fall directly in the middle of the undefined void.
You may, at this point, be scratching your noggin as I am. What’s the agenda? And given the shear lack of transparency in our government, it’s anyone’s guess. But we do know Obama has appointed the same players – Geithner, Paulson, etc. – who were responsible for our economic downfall to key cabinet positions. And how this plays out in the near future is yet again, anyone’s guess because this battle for our Constitutional Rights isn't over yet.
The Appeals Court will reconvene again to hear Hedges vs. Obama this February 6th in the Southern District Court in Manhattan – the time will be announced on the StopNDAA.org website. Anyone interested in attending in support is encouraged to show up in NYC on the court day for the hearing. One last thing, lawsuits are expensive, donations are always welcome. There’s a spot on the front page of the website just for that.
Meanwhile, my thanks to Ms. Bolen and everyone associated with the case for their unwavering dedication regarding our Constitutional Rights. Stay safe, guys and gals.