A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction late Wednesday to block provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the military to indefinitely detain anyone it accuses of knowingly or unknowingly supporting terrorism.
Signed by President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve, the 565-page NDAA contains a short paragraph, in statute 1021, letting the military detain anyone it suspects “substantially supported” al-Qaida, the Taliban or “associated forces.” The indefinite detention would supposedly last until “the end of hostilities.”
In a 68-page ruling blocking this statute, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed that the statute failed to “pass constitutional muster” because its broad language could be used to quash political dissent.
“There is a strong public interest in protecting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Forrest wrote. “There is also a strong public interest in ensuring that due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment are protected by ensuring that ordinary citizens are able to understand the scope of conduct that could subject them to indefinite military detention.”
Weeks after Obama signed the law, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges filed a lawsuit against its so-called “Homeland Battlefield” provisions.
Several prominent activists, scholars and politicians subsequently joined the suit, including Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg; Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Noam Chomsky; Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir; Kai Wargalla, an organizer from Occupy London; and Alexa O’Brien, an organizer for the New York-based activist group U.S. Day of Rage.
They call themselves the Freedom Seven.
In a signing statement, Obama contended that the language in Section 1021 “breaks no new ground” and merely restates the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF).
Government lawyers whistled the same tune to swat away the lawsuit, but they failed to convince the judge that no changes had been made.
Read more here: www.courthousenews.com/2012/05/16/46550.htm