August 2012, Week 2


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Fri, 10 Aug 2012 20:34:42 -0400
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US Attorneys Refuse to Assure Judge That They Are Not Already Detaining Citizens Under NDAA

by Tangerine Bolen
Aug 9, 2012

The US government seems determined to have the power to
do away with due process and Americans' right to a

I am one of the lead plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit
against the National Defense Authorization Act, which
gives the President the power to hold any US citizen
anywhere for as long as he wants, without charge or
trial. In May, following a March hearing, Judge
Katherine Forrest issued an injunction against it; this
week, in a final hearing in New York City, US government
lawyers essentially asserted even more extreme powers -
the power to entirely disregard the Judge and the law.
Indeed, on Monday, August 6, Obama's lawyers filed an
appeal to the injunction -- a profoundly important
development that as of this writing has been scarcely

In the March hearing, the US lawyers had confirmed that
yes, the NDAA does give the President the power to lock
up people like journalist Chris Hedges and peaceful
activists like myself and other plaintiffs. Government
attorneys have stated on record that even war
correspondents could be locked up indefinitely under the
NDAA. Judge Katherine Forrest had ruled for a temporary
injunction against an unconstitutional provision in this
law - after government attorneys refused to provide
assurances to the court that plaintiffs and others would
not be indefinitely detained for engaging in first
amendment activities. Twice the government has refused
to define what it means to be an "associated force", and
it claimed the right to refrain from offering any clear
definition of this term, or clear boundaries of power
under this law. This past week's hearing was even more
terrifying: incredibly, in this hearing, Obama's
attorneys refused to assure the court, when questioned,
that the NDAA's provision -- one that permits reporters
and others who have not committed crimes to be detained
without trial -- has not been applied by the US
government anywhere in the world -- AFTER Judge
Forrest's injunction. In other words, they were saying
to a US judge that they could not or would not state
whether Obama's government had complied with the legal
injunction that she had lain down before them.

To this, Judge Forrest responded that if the provision
has indeed been applied, the United States government
itself will be in contempt of court. Government
attorneys also, in this hearing, again presented no
evidence to support their position -- and brought forth
no witnesses.

I have mixed feelings about suing my government, and in
particular, my president, over the National Defense
Authorization Act. I voted for Obama. I even had an
Obama dance; and I could not stop crying for joy and
pride the night he was elected. I defended him for over
two years.

But no longer. The US public often ignores his actual
failings, and more importantly, entirely ignores how,
when it comes to the "war on terror", the US government
as a whole has been deceitful, reckless, even murderous.
We lost nearly 3000 people on 9/11. Then we allowed the
Bush administration to lie and force us into war with a
country that had nothing to do with that terrible day:
we killed between several hundred thousand and one
million Iraqi citizens, caused vast harm to our own
soldiers and gutted this nation's treasury for a war
that never should have happened. Given these crimes, it
is no wonder that Bush, Obama, and the US Congress
appear now to be far more interested in enacting
misguided, "boogieman in every corner" "war on terror"
policies that distract citizens from investigating the
truth about what we've done, and what we've become,
since 9/11.

I, like many in this fight, am now afraid of my
government. We have good reason to be. Due to the NDAA,
Chris Hedges, Kai Wargalla, the other plaintiffs and I
are squarely in the crosshairs of a "war on terror" that
has been an excuse to undermine liberties, trample the
US Constitution, destroy mechanisms of accountability
and transparency, and cause irreparable harm to
millions. Several of my co-plaintiffs know well the
harassment and harm that they incur from having dared
openly to defy the US government's narrative: court
testimony included government subpoenas of private bank
records of Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta
Jonsdottir, Wargalla's account of having been listed as
a `terrorist group", and Hedges' concern that he would
be included as a "belligerent" in the NDAA's definition
of the term - because he interviews members of outlawed
groups as a reporter - a concern that the US attorneys
refused on the record to allay. Other advocates have had
email accounts consistently hacked, and often find their
electronic communications corrupted in transmission -
some emails vanish altogether - a now-increasing form of
pressure that supporters of state surveillance and
intervention in the internet often fail to consider.

I've been surprised to find that most people, when I
mention that I am suing my president, Leon Panetta, and
eight members of Congress (four Democrats and four
Republicans), thank me - even before I explain what I'm
suing them over! And when I do explain the fact that I
and my seven co-plaintiffs are suing over a law that
suspends due process, threatens first amendment rights
and takes away the basic right of every citizen on this
planet to not be indefinitely detained without charge or
trial, their exuberance shifts, and a deeper gratitude
shines through their newly somber demeanors. But this
fight has taken a personal toll on many of us, including
myself. This winter, as I led the campaign to amend this
lawsuit and was working over 80 hours per week to get
everything ready, I suddenly ended up in the emergency
room, and have subsequently endured six months of a
debilitating neurological illness. Thus, I have relied
on an international team of volunteers, whose courage
and energy has led them successfully to garner support
for a lawsuit that is an attempt to restore our most
fundamental of liberties.

My government seems to have lost the ability to tell --
and, perhaps, even to know -- the truth about the
Constitution any more. I and many others have not. We
are fighting for due process and for the First
Amendment; for a country we still believe in; and for a
government that is still legally bound to its

If that makes us their "enemies", then so be it. As long
as they cannot call us "belligerents", lock us up and
throw away the key -- a power that, incredibly, this
week US government lawyers still asserted is their right
to claim. Against such abuses, we will keep fighting.

I am no radical; I am simply a moderate Democrat, suing
my out-of-control government. For the sake of people
everywhere, I sincerely hope we win.

For more details go to: http://stopNDAA.org


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