This morning while most Americans were not paying much attention, a critical battle for our civil liberties, everything in fact that defines America, was being waged at the NY US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in Foley Square.
An amazing group of patriotic Americans were facing down the Obama administration over the new law, NDAA, in Chris Hedges et al vs. Obama NDAA.
NDAA essentially allows military law to supersede civil law, which goes against the US Constitution. It gives dictatorial authority to the President of the US, not seen since before the signing of the Magna Carta. "There is no doubt as to the merit and structure of the bill", said attorney for Chris Hedges, Carl Mayer, but section 1021 E is phrased in such general terms that it allows for the abduction of American Citizens by the US Government. It allows our government to hold citizens under military law indefinitely, with no right to due process, no right to an attorney or access to evidence, until the "end of conflict", which is now defined as America's War on Terror, and ongoing war on nebulous enemy combatants, now in its eleventh year with no end in sight.
This case is so critical to America's freedom that a few high profile people lent their names, including Michael Moore, who also came to speak with us today. Another high profile name lent to this case, is the rising star of "holding Banksters Accountable", the Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, also known for her role in Wiki leaks, and holding the US accountable by trying to legislate them to get warrants before they could take all of our online personal information without our knowledge.
Before this law, the US military could never have power over the American civilian population, or civil law. NDAA was written and backed by bipartisan support from the US Congress, and signed into law by Obama in 2012.
You might remember the AUMF (Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists), signed into law by George W. Bush. AUMF clearly does not allow the detention of any American citizen or legal resident of the US by the US military, even during wartime. Whereas Bush's executive order exempts US citizens, Obama's NDAA law does not.
We live under an administration that has named peace activists and those who speak up for the rights of Americans, like those who Occupy Wall Street, as terrorists. Chris Hedges, formerly of the NY Times and now an independent journalist, has cause for concern under NDA. So does every American and legal US resident who independently publishes articles or blogs that in any way criticize America's actions at home or abroad; or even have their photo taken at a peace rally they just happen to be walking through, and are not even a part of.
The attorneys arguing on behalf of the Executive Office, Barack Obama, said that if Americans were arrested under NDAA, "they probably would not be detained for long, and Americans [or legal residents in detention] would be given plenty of time to convince the US Government that they were not Al Qaeda".
Ask Al Jazeera cameraman, Sami Al-Hajj how well that worked for him. As Kevin Gosztola of Firedog lake reported today, "The government made some startling statements about Al-Hajj. Loeb (attorney for the US government) said Al-Hajj had used the claim that he was a journalist as a cover for something else. A person in a case like this cannot use being a journalist as a defense against indefinite detention. Al-Hajj told the US government, "I'm not the person who film[ed] Osama bin Laden, because at that time I was in Doha. And my passport says that, and my ticket with you also says that. I'm not the person. This is my job, and this is my business. If I get the chance now to film Osama bin Laden, I will." He was released from Guantanamo Bay nearly seven years after he was detained by US forces." He was completely vindicated.
Chris Hedges speaks by Marianne Hoynes
Chris Hedges has been embedded with Al Qaeda. He has lived with them, traveled with them and done print and video interviews with them. Under NDAA, the US government can accuse Hedges of collaborating with the enemy. His actions as a journalist with the current language of this law, could be deemed as supporting Al Qaeda, or associating with known enemy combatants.
Independent expression was once known as "free speech" protected under the US Constitution in the First Amendment. The Congress who drafted this law, as well as the President of the US, take the same oath of office as every American who serves in the US military. "That oath", said famed whislteblower of the Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg, "is an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, not an oath to obey the Commander in Chief. The people who wrote and then ratified this bill, are not traitors, but are enemies of the US Constitution. They are violating their oath of office."
Americans need to begin to pay more attention, before it is too late.