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Court Puts Obama's Vague Indefinite Detention Power on Hold

By       Message WILLIAM FISHER     Permalink
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The lawsuit was brought by Chris Hedges and a group of other writers, including Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky. Hedges is a former N.Y. Times reporter whose reporting involves interactions with terrorists. The other plaintiffs were supporters of WikiLeaks.


The New York Times quoted them as saying, the law's "existence chilled their constitutional rights by creating a basis to fear that the government might seek to detain them under it by declaring that their activities made them supporters of an enemy group."

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Judge Forrest also weighed in on another piece of legislation. Back in May, The House of Representatives approved (301-118) extension of the FISA Amendments Act until 2012, which would have codified the power of the president to issue FISA warrants without approval from the FISA Court. According to The Times, it also retroactively rejected the George W. Bush administration's unlawful snooping in broad violation of Americans' constitutionally protected privacy.


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But the House bill was never considered by the Senate, so no new law was passed. Republicans say they intend to re-introduce the legislation after the election in November.


Judge Forrest also slammed provisions of the FISA law, which, in combination with the National Defense Authorization Act, could result in indefinite detention. According to Greenwald, she "emphasized how dangerous this new law is given the extremely broad discretion it vests in the president to order people detained in military custody with no charges."


But lest you think you've read the last page of the last chapter of this book, the Obama DOJ lost no time in filing not only an immediate appeal, but what Glenn Greenwald characterized as " an emergency motion asking the appeals court to lift the injunction pending the appeal."


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"Obama lawyers wrote a breathless attack on the court's ruling, denouncing it as "vastly troubling' and claiming that it "threatens tangible and dangerous consequences in the conduct of an "active military conflict' and "threatens irreparable harm to national security'. "


No one knows how all this will end. Perhaps in the Supreme Court. But for the moment, the United States does not practice indefinite detention -- except in Guantanamo where there are now 167 men in prcisely that condition -- a substantial number already cleared for release.

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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