You are herecontent / Journalists, Activists, Professors and Politicians Sue United States Government Over NDAA, Indefenite Detention
Journalists, Activists, Professors and Politicians Sue United States Government Over NDAA, Indefenite Detention
A lawsuit against the United States government was filed this week on behalf of a group of plaintiffs that includes Pulitzer prize-winning author Chris Hedges, Professor Noam Chomsky, the Pentagon Papers’ Daniel Ellsberg, an Icelandic Parliamentarian, and three women activists engaged in work they believe will put them in imminent danger under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Defendants in the suit include President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Senator John McCain, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi and others. Attorneys in the case Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran also asked Southern District New York Court Judge Katherine Forrest to grant a Temporary Restraining Order to enjoin the provisions of the NDAA that appear to contravene the US Constitution.
In tandem with this filing, an international democracy advocacy group and progressive civil liberties group have teamed up to conduct a campaign in support of a lawsuit they hope attracts hundreds of thousands of supporters – and thousands of potential plaintiffs. RevolutionTruth, a small, international, all-volunteer group dedicated to defending democratic rights, and Demand Progress, a million-member civil liberties group, are leading the charge to build a broad, transpartisan coalition of supporters of this lawsuit and to provide a platform for potential plaintiffs to be screened.
The National Defense Authorization Act is a bill passed into law each year. It allows the government to continue funding national security interests and the military for the next fiscal year. This year’s bill, however, was different: It contains a series of striking provisions which violate basic principles of American jurisprudence, contravene the US Constitution, and weaken the Bill of Rights.
The NDAA greatly expands the power of the federal government to fight the so-called War on Terror. The law seeks to authorize the US military, for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. Several of the law’s sponsors believe that it grants what are essentially dictatorial powers to the federal government to arrest any American citizen (or anyone, anywhere) without warrant and to indefinitely detain them without any charge. Suspects can be shipped by the military to offshore prisons and kept there until "the end of hostilities”, yet the language of the law is so broad and vague it could be interpreted to apply to an extraordinary range of activities and citizens. The NDAA is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.
In the words of journalist and plaintiff Chris Hedges:
“This demented “war on terror” is as undefined and vague as such a conflict is in any totalitarian state. The NDAA expands our permanent war to every spot on the globe. It erases fundamental constitutional liberties. It means we can no longer use the word “democracy” to describe our political system.”
In the words of plaintiff and campaign coordinator Tangerine Bolen:
“The uprisings we are seeing around the globe are no accident. Allegedly democratic nations have joined undemocratic regimes in engaging in behavior and policies that have compromised the rule of law, thwarted mechanisms of accountability, and ensured an enormous power imbalance between people and their elected representatives. RevolutionTruth has teamed up with powerhouse Demand Progress to do a one-two punch on this – an activist hybrid unlike anything we’ve seen to date. This is a global lawsuit AND a global campaign. We aim to stop this law in its tracks. We hope a lot of people sign up with us.”
Joining Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky and Ms. Bolen are Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, U.S. Day of Rage founder Alexa O’Brien, and Kai Wargalla, a key organizer of Occupy London – an occupation deemed to be a “terrorist group” by the London Police. Each of these plaintiffs has reason to believe they could be in imminent danger under the NDAA, which is set to take effect on Wednesday, March 1, 2012.
“Demand Progress is thrilled to leverage our strengths, including our million-member plus activist group, to support this lawsuit and campaign. We aim to build a cross-partisan coalition with hundreds of thousands of supporters to work on this effort, because it is critical that people of all political stripes join together to support civil liberties and to stop this travesty of justice." David Segal, Executive Director, Demand Progress