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Tillerson Approves Nearly $60Mln in Funding to Fight Propaganda – State Dept

Sputnik – 01.09.2017

WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has approved spending nearly $60 million on countering terrorist propaganda and state-sponsored disinformation, a State Department official has confirmed to Sputnik.

A US news outlet, Politico, reported in August that Tillerson was resisting the Department’s officials who wanted to spend $80 million on anti-propaganda efforts, including on countering Russia’s alleged disinformation campaign.

“Last week, after significant consultations within the State Department… Secretary Tillerson approved the release of one source of funding, and approved the request for another,” the official said, referring to $19.8 million in extra funding to target Islamist propaganda and another request for a transfer of $40 million from the Pentagon.

The official stressed that Tillerson’s decisions came after a realignment of programs by the Global Engagement Center (GEC) to match national security priorities and make sure that this funding would be used effectively “to counter the messaging of international terrorist groups and state-sponsored disinformation.”

The Global Engagement Center is an interagency entity, housed at the State Department, tasked with coordinating US counterterrorism messaging to foreign audiences. It was created in March 2016 to counter messaging from the Islamic State terrorist group (banned in Russia).

But former President Barack Obama last December signed the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which expanded the center’s mandate, allowing it to counter messages from state actors like Russia and China.

Russia has denied meddling in last year’s election in the United States, and the Kremlin insists that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

August 31, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Defense Bill Coming This Week: A Boost for War and Tyranny

By Ron Paul | May 15, 2016

For many of us concerned with liberty, the letters “NDAA” have come to symbolize Washington’s ongoing effort to undermine the US Constitution in the pursuit of constant war overseas. It was the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012 that introduced into law the idea that American citizens could be indefinitely detained without warrant or charge if a government bureaucrat decides they had assisted al-Qaeda or “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States.” No charges, no trial, just disappeared Americans.

The National Defense Authorization bill should be a Congressional mechanism to bind the president to spend national defense money in the way Congress wishes. It is the nuts and bolts of the defense budget and as such is an important oversight tool preventing the imperial executive from treating the military as his own private army. Unfortunately that is no longer the case these days.

Why am I revisiting the NDAA today? Unfortunately since 2012 these bills have passed the House with less and less scrutiny, and this week the House is going to vote on final passage of yet another Defense Authorization, this time for fiscal year 2017. Once again it is a terrible piece of legislation that does great harm to the United States under the guise of protecting the United States.

Unless some last minute changes take place, this latest NDAA will force young women for the first time to register to be drafted into the US military. For the past 36 years, young men have been forced to register with Selective Service when they turn 18 or face felony charges and years in prison. Under a perverted notion of “equality” some people are cheering the idea that this represents an achievement for women. Why cheer when slavery is extended to all? We should be fighting for an end to forced servitude for young men and to prevent it being extended to women.

The argument against a draft should appeal to all: you own your own body. No state has the right to force you to kill or be killed against your will. No state has a claim on your life. We are born with freedoms not granted by the state, but by our creator. Only authoritarians seek to take that away from us.

Along with extending draft registration to women, the latest NDAA expands the neocons’ new “Cold War” with Russia, adding $3.4 billion to put US troops and heavy weapons on Russia’s border because as the bill claims, “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.” This NDAA also includes the military slush fund of nearly $60 billion for the president to spend on wars of his choosing without the need to get Congress involved. Despite all the cries that we need to “rebuild the military,” this year’s Defense Authorization bill has a higher base expenditure than last year. There have been no cuts in the military. On the contrary: the budget keeps growing.

The Defense Authorization bill should remain notorious. It represents most of what is wrong with Washington. It is welfare for the well-connected defense contractors and warfare on our economy and on the rest of the world. This reckless spending does nothing to defend the United States. It is hastening our total economic collapse.

May 15, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

“Guantánamo North” – NDAA Indefinite Detention Coming Soon to a Town Near You?

By Chris Anders | ACLU | June 6, 2014

Top senators thought you wouldn’t notice. Behind closed doors, they wrote up new indefinite detention and Guantánamo provisions in the annual defense policy bill, and then waited 11 days to quietly file the bill.

But we now have the bill, and everyone can read it. And everyone should understand what is in this new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the full Senate makes a big mistake and paves the way for Guantánamo-style indefinite detention being brought to the United States itself.

The new Senate NDAA:

Brings Indefinite Detention to the U.S. Itself: The bill now says that detainees may be brought to the United States for “detention pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force” (AUMF). In plain English, that means the policy of indefinite detention by the military, without charge or trial, could be carried out here at home. Right now, the number of people in the U.S. in military indefinite detention is zero. If the bill is enacted, that number could immediately jump to 100 or more.

Bolsters Claims of NDAA and AUMF Indefinite Detention Authority: The AUMF is the basis for the indefinite detention authority included in the NDAA that Congress passed nearly three years ago. Indefinite detention is wrong today and certainly cannot be sustained past the end of U.S. combat in the Afghan war. But passing a new Senate NDAA that relies on detention authority based on the AUMF, just as the U.S. combat role in the war is winding down, could be used by the government to bolster its claim that indefinite detention can just keep on going. Even when any actual U.S. combat is over.

Requires Report on Even More NDAA and AUMF Indefinite Detention Authority: As if the government didn’t already have enough claims of indefinite detention authority, the Senate NDAA asks the administration to let Congress know what more indefinite detention authority it wants.

Tries to Strip Federal Courts of Ability to Decide Challenges to Harmful Conditions: In a stunning provision, the Senate NDAA tries to strip federal courts of their ability to “hear or consider” any challenge related to harmful treatment or conditions by detainees brought to the United States. This provision tries to gut our system of checks and balances by cutting out the courts.

Violates Supreme Court Decision by Stripping Habeas Rights from Detainees Left at Guantánamo: In a classic example of why it is never a good idea for a committee to legislate behind closed doors, the Senate NDAA includes language inadvertently stripping habeas rights from any Guantánamo detainee who is not moved to the United States. Habeas is the very fundamental protection of being able to have a judge decide whether it is legal or illegal to hold someone in prison. While this is almost certainly the product of sloppy drafting, the result squarely contradicts the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush, in which the Court said Guantanamo detainees have a constitutional right to habeas.

Blocks Most Cleared Detainees from Going Home: The Senate NDAA would block the transfer home of the vast majority of cleared detainees by imposing a blanket ban on transfers to Yemen, instead of continuing to allow the secretary of defense to make decisions on an individual basis. That would mean dozens of detainees cleared for transfer would remain trapped in limbo.

There is a right way and a wrong way to close Guantánamo. Charging and trying in court anyone who committed a crime – and sending anyone who isn’t charged with a crime back home or to another country – is the right way to close Guantánamo. Simply moving all of the bad Guantánamo policies to the U.S. itself is the wrong way.

The Senate NDAA gets it very wrong. We urge all senators to say “NO” to these provisions.

June 6, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

The Feinstein Fumble: Indefinite Detention Remains

By Blake Filippi | Tenth Amendment Center | November 30, 2012

The proposed language in the 2013 NDAA and the recent Feinstein Amendment do not fix the multiple Constitutional infirmities in section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA. Unfortunately, Congress is now poised to reaffirm the President’s ability to prosecute persons within the USA though military tribunals, potentially allow continued indefinite detention without charge or trial, and do nothing to limit the practice of extraordinary rendition.

The most troubling provisions of section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA provide that the all persons within the USA – including U.S. citizens – whom the President unilaterally determines “substantially supported” the Taliban, Al Qaeda or “Associated forces” may be designated as enemy combatants subject to indefinite detention, extraordinary rendition (the transfer to foreign jurisdiction or entities) or military tribunals. Importantly, there is no knowing and willful requirement to one’s “substantial support.”

While the indefinite detention language in the 2012 NDAA purports to allow no Due Process whatsoever, it is tempered – inadequately tempered — by Supreme Court precedent that requires limited Due Process rights for those designated as enemy combatants subject to indefinite detention.

By way of background: in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court ruled that Hamdi – a U.S. citizen captured on a foreign battlefield and held indefinitely within U.S. jurisdiction – generally possessed the right to a meaningful opportunity to challenge his enemy combatant status before a neutral military decision-maker.

In Boumediene v. Bush the Court then further defined the due process rights of enemy combatants captured on a foreign battlefield and held within U.S. jurisdiction. They possess Habeas rights in an Article III court to review the neutral decision-marker. However, as a review of a military decision, the Habeas procedures for continued indefinite detention are shockingly lacking and inadequate compared to normal criminal proceedings. There is no 6th Amendment jury right. Hearsay is freely admissible, i.e. the 6th Amendment right to confront right to face accusers is absent. The burden of proof is not beyond a reasonable doubt, not clear and convincing evidence, but a mere preponderance of the evidence. That is more likely than not based on hearsay that someone “substantially supported” a terrorist organization.

Then came the NDAA. The NDAA purports to extend the President’s war powers to the U.S. homeland. All persons within the USA — citizen and non-citizen alike — would now be subject to the Law of War with regards allegations of supporting terrorism, including the same indefinite detention limited Due Process rights articulated in Hamdi and Boumediene, as well as military tribunals and extraordinary rendition.

After the obvious outcry from citizens and States alike, Congress is now poised to pass the 2013 NDAA with what at first blush appear to be fixes to the indefinite detention provisions of the 2012 NDAA. However, the proposed text, and the recent Feinstein Amendment, may do little to restrict the President’s homeland war powers.

The operative language of the 2013 NDAA is contained in Section 1033(a):

Nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus or to deny any Constitutional rights in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution for any person who is lawfully in the United States when detained pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force and who is otherwise entitled to the availability of such writ or such rights.”

First, section 1033 still speaks to ‘detention’ of persons within the USA – as in indefinite detention without charge or trial. And the Constitutional rights purportedly preserved by section 1033 of the 2013 NDAA are likely only the limited protections that are already judicially required under Hamdi and Boumediene for indefinite detention; the right to a limited Habeas reviewin an Article III Court wherein the Constitution does not require numerous procedural safeguards available in normal criminal proceedings. Section 1033 of the 2013 NDAA only appears to be a mere legislative codification of these limited Hamdi and Boumediene indefinite detention procedures. Importantly, the President’s 2012 NDAA authority to dispose of persons captured in the USA — including U.S. citizens – through military tribunal and extraordinary rendition are not curtailed.

Unfortunately, the Feinstein Amendment to the 2013 NDAA may also do little to fix the multitude of problems with the 2012 NDAA, because it 1) may reaffirm the limited indefinite detention Due Process articulated in Hamdi and Boumediene, 2) does not restrict military tribunals with numerous Due Process infirmities for persons within the USA, 3) and it does nothing to limit extrodinary rendition.

The operative language of the Feinstein amendment is as follows:

“(b)(1) An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or a similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charges or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.”

. . . .

“(b)(3) Paragraph (1) shall not be construed to authorize the detention of a citizen of the United States, a lawful permanent resident of United States, or any other person who is apprehended in the United States.”

The initial question is; how does the Feinstein’s amendment actually affect the 2012 NDAA? Feinstein Amendment paragraph (b)(1) still purports to allow indefinite detention upon the express authorization of Congress, and (b)(3) says that the amendment should not be construed to authorize such detention. Yet, section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA, intended to clarify the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, specifically authorizes such indefinite detention. Moreover, section 1021 applies broadly to include all persons, including those within the United States (as advocated by the Obama Administration and numerous members of Congress). Thus,  section 1021 may still be interpreted as a specific enough authorization under the Feinstein Amendment for indefinite detention of persons within the USA; making the Feinstein Amendment worthless.

Now, let’s suppose the 2012 NDAA does not specify persons within the USA sufficiently to meet the Feinstein Amendment’s specific authorization requirement for indefinite detention; IT LIKELY CHANGES LITTLE.

Here’s why. The Feinstein Amendment does not specify what “charge” or “trial” mean. While this may seem like semantics, it is a very important omission because the judicial forum and attendant Constitutional protections present are not specified.

On one hand, the Feinstein Amendment could be interpreted as requiring the same limited Due Process articulated in Hamdi and Boumediene. Hamdi and Boumediene already require that those subject to indefinite detention are entitled to an opportunity to contest their enemy combatant status before a neutral decision maker, followed by civilian Article III Habeas review (with the extremely limited Due Process articulated above). By requiring charge and trial, the Feinstein Amendment may only legislatively codify the existing Hamdi and Boumediene limited Due Process rights those indefinitely detained under the 2012 NDAA are already entitled to. While this interpretation seems a stretch, we must remember that the Obama Administration has gone so far to declare that the President’s contemplation was sufficient Due Process prior to the drone assassination of U.S. citizens Al Allawaki and son.

On the other hand, it is more likely that the Feinstein Amendment’s “charge and trial” require more than the Hamdi and Boumediene procedures to contest indefinite detention as an enemy combatant (which procedures are not the product of formal charges or trials). We must remember that in addition to indefinite detention without trial or charge, section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA purports to authorize military tribunals. Military tribunals are initiated through formal charges and are deemed trials. Although the 2013 NDAA seeks to preserve Habeas rights and Constitutional protections when in an Article III Court, neither the 2013 NDAA or the Feinstein Amendment require that the actual charge and trial occur in an Article III civilian court (where all the Constitutional protections of normal criminal proceedings are present). The military tribunals authorized in the 2012 NDAA are simply not restricted. Thus, the “charge and trial” specified by the Feinstein Amendment likely refers to a military tribunal; the same tribunals ongoing in Guantanamo Bay.

The Constitutional protections in military tribunals are still woefully inadequate for a civilian arrested within the USA. The right to confront accusers is limited because significant testimonial hearsay can be admissible, the jury is composed of military members instead of peers, an unanimous verdict is not necessary for conviction, Miranda warnings are not applicable and search warrants are not required for admission of evidence. Importantly, Article III, Section III’s requirement that treason be proved by the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act may not be applicable.

Finally, and perhaps most troubling, is that the 2012 NDAA also authorizes the transfer of alleged enemy combatants to foreign jurisdictions and entities; that’s extraordinary rendition. The 2013 NDAA and the Feinstein Amendment do nothing to curb this horrific practice. The Constitution, laws and courts are completely irrelevant once someone has been transferred outside the jurisdiction of the USA. In this context, an accused’s Constitutional rights (and any rights purportedly preserved under in the 2013 NDAA and Feinstein Amendment) are only enforceable when within the jurisdiction of the courts. Nothing has been done to limit the President’s purported authority in the 2012 NDAA to transfer someone outside of the United States to some foreign country, entity, or military base, where they have no ability to compel a hearing to determine enemy combatant status, seek to be charged or tried, or pursue Habeas relief.

At most, the 2013 NDAA and the Feinstein Amendment require that persons within the USA designated as enemy combatants are at least entitled to military tribunals. Thus, the president retains the authority to prosecute according to the Laws of War. While military tribunals are a slight improvement over the Hamdi and Boumediene indefinite detention procedures, they still provide woefully insufficient civilian Constitutional protections. And nothing has been done about the President’s extraordinary rendition powers. Our Founders certainly did not intend for the president to have such domestic war powers – especially over citizens – without a Congressional declaration of War. Instead, Congress unconstitutionally purported to provide these war powers in the 2012 NDAA multi-hundred-page-appropriation-bill, and has done little to limit them with the ineffectual 2013 NDAA and its Feinstein Amendment.

If Congress intends to uphold the Constitution, it must immediately ban indefinite detention and require charge and trial in Article III civilian courts for persons within the USA – especially for civilians and legal aliens  – and strike the President’s purported extraordinary rendition powers. Congress must restore the rule of law! Otherwise, the terrorists have won

Blake Filippi [send him email] is a Legal Analyst for the Tenth Amendment Center. He is also the director of the Rhode Island Liberty Coalition, a constitutional attorney and the initial author of resolutions opposing NDAA detention provisions being introduced around the country. Visit RI Liberty online at www.riliberty.com.

December 4, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Feinstein Fumble: Indefinite Detention Remains

Americans already detained under NDAA?

RT | September 28, 2012

The plaintiffs that are suing US President Barack Obama over his insistence on keeping the National Defense Authorization Act on the books said Thursday that they fear Americans are already being held indefinitely and without trial under the NDAA.

US President Barack Obama refrained from even once commenting on his efforts to keep his power to indefinitely detain Americans without charge when he appeared on Reddit.com recently and urged users to “Ask Me Anything.” His opponents in the matter aren’t shying away from speaking up online, though.

The plaintiffs in the case to ban the White House from imprisoning Americans indefinitely without trial or due justice took to Reddit on Thursday to answer questions involving the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2012, or the NDAA, and blamed corrupt media and a broken governmental establishment for letting the Obama administration maintain its [power] to book Americans in military prisons without charge.

On December 31, 2011, President Obama authorized the NDAA, and with it he approved a controversial provision that permits the government to indefinitely detain US citizens without trial for mere allegations of ties to suspected terrorists. Journalists and activists filed a lawsuit against the president earlier this year over the provision, Section 1021, which US Federal Judge Katherine Forrest in turn agreed was unconstitutional. Last month Judge Forrest decided that an earlier, temporary injunction on the clause should be made permanent, but the Obama Justice Department pleaded for an emergency stay only hours later. A lone federal appeals judge has since heard that plea and has momentarily blocked Judge Forrest’s injunction. Now pending the results of an appeals panel’s formal investigation, the NDAA’s indefinite detention provision remains on the books.

On Thursday, the plaintiffs in the case — journalist Chris Hedges, activist Tangerine Bolen, Pentagon Papers leaker Dan Ellsberg, their attorneys and others — told users of Reddit to ask them anything.

“The Obama DOJ has vigorously opposed these efforts, and immediately appealed her ruling and requested an emergency stay on the injunction – claiming the US would incur ‘irreparable harm’ if the president lost the power to use Section 1021 – and detain anyone, anywhere until the end of hostilities on a whim. This case will probably make its way to the Supreme Court,” the plaintiffs acknowledged in their introduction.

From there, President Obama’s opponents in federal court combed through hundreds of posts to answer questions regarding the NDAA over the course of several hours. And although the plaintiffs have not exactly been silent with the status of their fight since suing the White House earlier this year, the insight they offered on Reddit provided a fresh update on the case against the NDAA amid some of the government’s most unusual legal maneuvers yet.

Offering his take on the case, Hedges said that he even believes the NDAA’s indefinite detention clause is already being used to imprison Americans, “because they filed an emergency appeal.”

“If the Obama administration simply appealed it, as we expected, it would have raised this red flag,” Hedges added. “But since they were so aggressive it means that once Judge Forrest declared the law invalid, if they were using it, as we expect, they could be held in contempt of court. This was quite disturbing, for it means, I suspect, that US citizens, probably dual nationals, are being held in military detention facilities almost certainly overseas and maybe at home.”

“The signing statement is the most ridiculous part to this for me. He writes this statement saying he’s not happy about the power existing, but then his administration fights so hard to keep that specific power in place,” a Reddit user responded.

“If Obama didn’t want it to happen, he would not have signed it, especially after stating that he would veto it,” co-counsel Carl Mayer explained. Mayer has represented the plaintiffs in the case of Hedges v. Obama and said that he plans on continuing his pursuit to take indefinite detention off the books.

“We will do whatever it takes,” Mayers added. “We are prepared for a Supreme Court battle.”

Activist and journalist Tangerine Bolen is also insistent on prevailing over the Obama administration, but says “The biggest obstruction to our winning this case . . . is our broken systems.” Bolen blames a lack of media coverage, insufficient public awareness “and the government behaving very badly, even in court, on the record,” for the difficulties the plaintiffs have had to endure, adding that the Obama administration’s constant missteps have been noticed by no one except “seven plaintiffs, four attorneys, one federal judge and the activists who have been following this case.”

“Amazing,” she added.

Journalist Chris Hedges extrapolated on Bolen’s opinion, singling out “a corporate-owned system of information” for not informing Americans that they can be imprisoned without trial at this very moment.

“MSNBC, which is a propaganda arm of the Democratic establishment, just as Fox is a propaganda arm of the Republican establishment, is not going to raise this as Obama is as guilty as Romney. If we had a healthy press this would have gotten more coverage, although the print media, and in particular my old paper the NY Times, finally did good coverage,” Hedges wrote. […]

A three-judge appeals panel is expected to soon weigh in on the stay placed on Judge Forrest’s injunction, in the meantime keeping Section 1021 and the rest of the NDAA applicable to every American. – Full article

September 29, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US government restores indefinite detention without trial

Press TV – September 19, 2012

The American government has successfully appealed a ruling by a district court banning indefinite detention of suspects without due process, re-instituting the controversial law that contradicts the US Constitution, Press TV reports.

The restoration of the law allows the Obama administration to hold suspects, even American citizens, captive without trial at military prison facilities such as the notorious Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for as long as they desire.

The provision is part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed into law by US President Barack Obama in 2011. The controversial bill further extends surveillance powers of various American law enforcement institutions, allowing the US military forces around the world to seize any non-combatant foreign individual across the globe.

US Civil Rights Attorney Ron Kuby describes the latest ruling as another blow to American civil liberties, insisting that it grants the government and its military forces too much authority.

This is while US District judge Katherine Forrest dismissed NDAA last week as “deeply flawed,” declaring it unconstitutional on the basis that it violates the 1st and fifth amendments. The Obama administration, however, appealed the verdict passed down by Judge Forrest, claiming that her decision has put the US military operations around the world in jeopardy.

Following up on Obama administration’s legal challenge, US Appeals Judge Raymond Lohier agreed with the government on Tuesday and lifted the ban, exposing American natives just as vulnerable to such arbitrary arrests as hundreds of individuals living in other countries that may be detained after being labeled as ‘a terrorist’ by American authorities or military forces.

International human rights groups insist that more than 700 people across the globe have been kidnapped by the US authorities and transported to detention facilities in different parts of the world. The practice, often referred to as Rendition, gained international attention with the case of Khalid El Masri – a German citizen who was tortured in Afghanistan for months before being released in 2004.

A number of US legal experts emphasize, meanwhile, that even the US citizens can now be confronted by a similar plight no matter where they may reside. The fight, however, is far from over on the NDAA issue. The stay on this provision is only effective until September 28th, when the American government will have to defend it before a three judge appeals panel.

Many observers believe that the case will most likely end up in the US Supreme court.

Video Report

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

White House demands military prisons for Americans under NDAA

RT | September 17, 201

The White House has asked the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals to place an emergency stay on a ruling made last week by a federal judge so that the president’s power to indefinitely detain Americans without charge is reaffirmed immediately.

On Wednesday, September 12, US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest made permanent a temporary injunction she issued in May that bars the federal government from abiding by the indefinite detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or NDAA. Judge Forrest ruled that a clause that gives the government the power to arrest US citizens suspected of maintaining alliances with terrorists and hold them without due process violated the Constitution and that the White House would be stripped of that ability immediately.

Only hours after Judge Forrest issued last week’s ruling, the Obama administration threatened to appeal the decision, and on Monday morning they followed through.

At around 9 a.m. Monday, September 17, the White House filed an emergency stay in federal appeals court in an effort to have the Second Circuit strip away Judge Forrest’s ruling from the week earlier.

“Almost immediately after Judge Forrest ruled, the Obama administration challenged the decision,” writes Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist that is listed as the lead plaintiff in the case. According to Hedges, the government called Judge Forrest’s most recent ruling an “extraordinary injunction of worldwide scope,” and Executive Branch attorneys worked into the weekend to find a way to file their stay.

“The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the Second Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the Second Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction,” Hedges writes. “This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard. The government’s decision has triggered a constitutional showdown between the president and the judiciary.”

Attorney Carl Mayer, a counsel for Hedges and his co-plaintiffs, confirmed to RT early Monday that the stay was in fact filed with the Second Circuit.

“This may be the most significant constitutional standoff since the Pentagon Papers case,” Carl Mayer says in a separate statement posted on Mr. Hedge’s blog.

Bruce Afran, who serves as co-lead counsel along with Mayer, tells Hedges that the White House could be waging a war against the injunction to ensure that the Obama administration has ample time to turn the NDAA against any protesters participating in domestic demonstrations.

“A Department of Homeland Security bulletin was issued Friday claiming that the riots [in the Middle East] are likely to come to the US and saying that DHS is looking for the Islamic leaders of these likely riots,” Afran tells Hedges. “It is my view that this is why the government wants to reopen the NDAA — so it has a tool to round up would-be Islamic protesters before they can launch any protest, violent or otherwise. Right now there are no legal tools to arrest would-be protesters. The NDAA would give the government such power. Since the request to vacate the injunction only comes about on the day of the riots, and following the DHS bulletin, it seems to me that the two are connected. The government wants to reopen the NDAA injunction so that they can use it to block protests.”

Hedges, who has previously reported for papers including the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor, argued that his job as a journalist requires him to routinely interact and converse with persons that may be considered terrorists in the eyes of the US government.

Under the NDAA, Americans “who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners” can be held in prison cells “until the end of hostilities,” vague verbiage that essentially allows for those suspect of such associations to be decided under the discretion of US President Barack Obama or any federal agent underneath him.

“Because the language is so vague in this law,” Mr. Mayer explains to RT, “if any journalist or activist is seen as reporting or offering opinions about groups that could somehow be linked not just to al-Qaeda but to any opponent of the United States or even opponents of our allies”

“I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge,” Hedges wrote when he first filed his suit in January. “I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have ‘disappeared’ into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.”

Monday morning, Hedges once more responded to the White House’s relentless attempts to reauthorize powers granted under the NDAA, asking, “If the administration is this anxious to restore this section of the NDAA, is it because the Obama government has already used it? Or does it have plans to use the section in the immediate future?”

“The decision to vigorously fight Forrest’s ruling is a further example of the Obama White House’s steady and relentless assault against civil liberties, an assault that is more severe than that carried out by George W. Bush,” writes Hedges. “Obama has refused to restore habeas corpus. He supports the FISA Amendment Act, which retroactively makes legal what under our Constitution has traditionally been illegal — warrantless wire tapping, eavesdropping and monitoring directed against US citizens. He has used the Espionage Act six times against whistle-blowers who have exposed government crimes, including war crimes, to the public. He interprets the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act as giving him the authority to assassinate US citizens, as he did the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. And now he wants the right to use the armed forces to throw U.S. citizens into military prisons, where they will have no right to a trial and no defined length of detention.”

In his latest blog post, Hedges acknowledges, “The government has now lost four times in a litigation that has gone on almost nine months.”

September 17, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 2 Comments

Obama fights ban on indefinite detention of Americans

RT | August 7, 2012

The White House has filed an appeal in hopes of reversing a federal judge’s ruling that bans the indefinite military detention of Americans because attorneys for the president say they are justified to imprison alleged terrorists without charge.

Manhattan federal court Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in May that the indefinite detention provisions signed into law late last year by US President Barack Obama failed to “pass constitutional muster” and ordered a temporary injunction to keep the military from locking up any person, American or other, over allegations of terrorist ties. On Monday, however, federal prosecutors representing President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta filed a claim with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of eliminating that ban.

The plaintiffs “cannot point to a single example of the military’s detaining anyone for engaging in conduct even remotely similar to the type of expressive activities they allege could lead to detention,” Obama’s attorneys insist. With that, the White House is arguing that as long as the indefinite detention law hasn’t be enforced yet, there is no reason for a judge to invalidate it.

Reuters reports this week that the government believes they are justified to have the authorization to lock alleged belligerents up indefinitely because cases involving militants directly aligned against the good of the US government warrants such punishment. Separate from Judge Forrest’s injunction, nine states have attempted to, at least in part, remove themselves from the indefinite detention provisions of included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or NDAA.

In section 1021 of the NDAA, the president’s authority to hold a terrorism suspect “without trial, until the end of the hostilities” is reaffirmed by Congress. Despite an accompanying signing statement voicing his opposition to that provision, President Obama quietly inked his name to the NDAA on December 31, 2011. In May, however, a group of plaintiffs including notable journalists and civil liberty proponents challenged section 1021 in court, leading to Justice Forrest to find it unconstitutional one month later.

“There is a strong public interest in protecting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Forrest wrote in her 68-page ruling. “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.”

At the time Justice Forrest made her injunction, attorney Carl Mayer told RT on behalf of the plaintiffs that, although he expected the White House to appeal, “It may not be in their best interest.”

“[T]here are so many people from all sides of the political spectrum opposed to this law that they ought to just say, ‘We’re not going to appeal,’” Mayer said. “The NDAA cannot be used to pick up Americans in a proverbial black van or in any other way that the administration might decide to try to get people into the military justice system. It means that the government is foreclosed now from engaging in this type of action against the civil liberties of Americans.”

The original plaintiffs, who include Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges, have asked Justice Forrest to make her injunction permanent. Oral arguments in the case are expected to begin this week.

August 7, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Judge Forrest and the NDAA

By CARL J. MAYER | CounterPunch | June 11, 2012

In 1774 the American patriot John Adams said of John Witherspoon (the Scottish Presbyterian Minister and co-signer of the Declaration of Independence): “He is as high a Son of Liberty, as any man in America.”

Future generations may well say of United States Federal District Court Judge Katherine B. Forrest that she is as high a Daughter of Liberty as any person in the land.

Judge Forrest, of the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, issued a ruling on May 16 that will be regarded as a watershed moment in reversing a decade-long bi-partisan assault on civil liberties and the Constitution. Her honor took the extraordinary step of issuing a preliminary injunction and striking down as unconstitutional a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have allowed for the indefinite detention of United States citizens in military prisons without trial or counsel.

This so-called “Homeland Battlefield Act” was thought by many to be the latest and most egregious incursion on the liberties of all Americans, coming on the heels of warrantless wire-tapping, the USA Patriot Act, drones flying over American cities and the use by American police of Para-military garb and tactics.

Like John Adams and John Witherspoon, Forrest can hardly be characterized as a radical. A former entertainment lawyer with the powerhouse corporate law firm of Cravath, Swaine and Moore, Forrest is an Obama appointee.

Nor can her opinion be characterized as precipitous or far-flung. To the contrary, Judge Forrest’s sober 68-page ruling was firmly rooted in established First Amendment and due process precedent. Judge Forrest almost had no choice but to strike down the offending statute because its terms were so vague: the law would have captured anyone accused of giving “substantial support” to Al-Qaeda or “associated forces.” These terms are not only inherently nebulous and imprecise, but they were not defined in the statute. Like most lawyers, in all my years of legal practice, I have never encountered a law that does not have a definitional section: the NDAA did not.

To remove any doubt, at trial Judge Forrest cross-examined the United States Government lawyers about whether they could give assurances to the plaintiffs in the case – all of whom were either journalists or activists with no ties to terrorists, other than reporting – that their speech and conduct would not subject them to the provisions of the NDAA. Repeatedly, Justice Department lawyers refused, in open court, on the record, to offer any such assurances. As Judge Forrest wrote in her opinion: “At the hearing on this motion, the government was unwilling or unable to state that these plaintiffs would not be subject to indefinite detention under [Section] 1021 [of the NDAA]. Plaintiffs are therefore at risk of detention, of losing their liberty, potentially for many years.”

The government could appeal Judge Forrest’s ruling, but the plaintiffs in the case have publicly called on the President, a former constitutional scholar himself, to announce that he will abide by the sound reasoning of Judge Forrest, forgo an appeal and voluntarily enter into a permanent injunction that would forever ensure that American’s rights to trial by jury would be secure.

Candidate Romney would be wise to take a similar position. Indeed as many Republicans oppose the NDAA as Democrats. In fact, a coalition of conservative and Republican groups took the extraordinary step of filing an amicus curiae brief in Federal District Court. The signatories to the brief included a Virginia Republican State Senator, the Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the Gun Owners of America.

The Congress, just days after Judge Forrest’s ruling, failed to pass an amendment to the NDAA that would have fixed some of the constitutional problems with the statute. On May 25, the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, the Justice Department filed a motion for reconsideration (which are virtually never granted) before Judge Forrest signaling the Administration’s determination to keep fighting to overturn decades of constitutional jurisprudence and enshrine indefinite, undefined detention as the law of the land.

The most astonishing moment at trial before Judge Forrest was the sound of silence. The government refused to call any witnesses from any of the national security agencies that could have explained why undermining the civil liberties of civilians in this country is necessary to fight terrorism. The government simply cannot explain why habeas corpus and trial by jury should be jettisoned when these concepts date back hundreds of years and were enshrined by the Supreme Court during active war time as far back as the Civil War.

On June 6, 2012, in another courageous opinion, Judge Forrest denied the Obama administration’s request for reconsideration and made clear that her order is so broad that it applies to every area of the country and by implication protects all journalists and activists in America.

The battle to restore civil liberties in America has begun.

Carl J. Mayer, with Bruce Afran, was lead-counsel representing the plaintiffs in Hedges v. Obama, decided by Judge Forrest on May 16, 2012.

June 11, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Comments Off on Judge Forrest and the NDAA

Congress still okay with indefinite detention and torture of Americans

RT | 18 May, 2012

Even after a federal court deemed the NDAA unconstitutional, the US House of Representatives refused to exclude indefinite detention provisions from the infamous defense spending bill during a vote on Friday.

An attempt to strike down any provisions allowing for the US military to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge from next year’s National Defense Authorization Act was shot down Friday morning in the House of Representatives.

Following discussions on an amendment to the 2013 NDAA that was proposed by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan), House lawmakers opted against passing the law by a vote of 182-238. Had the Smish-Amash amendment passed, military detention for terror suspects captured in the US would have been excluded in the annual defense spending bill. Provisions that allow for that power, Sections 1021 and 1022, were inserted into the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2012. President Barack Obama signed that legislation on New Year’s Eve, essentially authorizing the US Armed Forces to detain Americans indefinitely at military facilities over only allegation of ties with terrorists and subject them to enhanced interrogation tactics on par with torture.

On Thursday night, Rep. Amash took to his Facebook page to address the amendment with his followers. “No matter how much I am slandered or my positions are demagogued, I will NEVER stop fighting to defend your liberty and the Constitution,” wrote the congressman.

Back on Capitol Hill, Rep. Amash circulated a document to his fellow lawmakers on Thursday outlining his proposed amendment. In urging his colleagues to vote yes on the Smith-Amash amendment, the representative from Michigan explained to Congress that the proposal would offer protection to non-citizens of the United States and is the only amendment up for discussion that would guarantee Americans a charge and trial.

Elsewhere in the paper, Rep. Amash harped on a decision out of a federal court earlier this week that ruled that the NDAA violated the US Constitution.

“Our constituents demand that we protect their right to a charge and a trial — especially after the NDAA was ruled unconstitutional this week,” wrote Rep. Amash.

That decision came Wednesday when United States District Judge Katherine Forrest shunned the NDAA’s indefinite detention provision, saying it had a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights.”

“An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so,” wrote Judge Forrest, who then cited complaints for American journalists who were concerned that they’d be imprisoned without charge solely for speaking with alleged terrorists.

Attorney Carl Mayer represented the plaintiffs in this case and spoke with RT after Judge Forrest’s decision. Mr. Mayer revealed that while the Obama administration can — and most likely will — file an appeal, “we are suggesting that it may not be in their best interest because there are so many people from all sides of the political spectrum opposed to this law.”

Although that opposition has indeed been widespread since even before this year’s NDAA was signed by President Obama on December 31, it was absent on Capitol Hill this Friday when the Smith-Amash amendment was shot down.

Moments before the amendment went up for vote, Rep. Amash wrote on Facebook, “We know the NDAA’s detention provision is unconstitutional. The House will vote on one substantive solution.”

“Will we fix it? And if we don’t, how will we explain that to our constituents?”

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 2 Comments

One Thing Maine, Virginia and Arizona Have in Common: Opposition to the NDAA

By Allie Bohm | ACLU | April 27, 2012

This week, the House Armed Services Committee has turned its attention back to the National Defense Authorization Act and began working on this year’s bill. You remember last year’s perversion that, for the first time in American history, codified indefinite military detention without charge or trial far from any battlefield? State legislators and activists and concerned citizens on the right and the left — and everyone in between — haven’t forgotten.

On Wednesday, Arizona’s state legislature sent a bill opposing the detention provisions in the NDAA to their governor. And, last week, a similar bill became law in Virginia, about a month after Maine passed a joint resolution to the same effect. Add to that list the cities and counties that have passed resolutions urging Congress to repeal the problematic provisions in the NDAA — Fairfax, Calif.; Santa Cruz, Calif.; El Paso County, Colo.; Fremont County, Colo.; Moffat County, Colo.; Weld County, Colo.; Cherokee County, Kan.; Northampton, Mass.; Alleghany County, N.C.; Macomb, N.Y.; Elk County, Pa.; and New Shoreham, R.I. — and the map starts looking awfully full. This is not a red state issue or a blue state issue or a purple state issue. A few of the resolutions are under-inclusive, but their message is still clear: across social and political lines, no one likes the idea of indefinite detention or mandatory military detention far from any battlefield. (Okay, except maybe Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and a few other misguided members of Congress.)

Will your town, city, county, or state be the next to speak up? You can make that happen. Check out our model legislation and activist toolkit for legislative language, talking points, and tips to help you get started. Our bill sends a message from your local legislative body to Congress that the indefinite military detention provisions of the NDAA should be repealed. The model legislation prohibits state and local employees from aiding the federal armed forces in the investigation, arrest, detention, or trial of any person within the United States under the NDAA. It also sends a message from your legislative body to Congress that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force should expire at the end of the war in Afghanistan so that the government cannot continue to use the AUMF as justification for its claims that war is everywhere and anywhere and that the president can order the American military to imprison without charge or trial people picked up far from any battlefield.

And while you’re at it, head over to our Action Center and urge your member of Congress to fix the NDAA. The time is now. This year’s NDAA provides the perfect opportunity for Congress to fix last year’s debacle. And, we need you — and your state legislators and city council members — to speak up if we’re going to get Congress to finally do the right thing.

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Slick Trick on the NDAA and Indefinite Detention; Don’t Be Fooled!

By Chris Anders | ACLU | April 19, 2012

It looks like there is slick little trick brewing in Congress. Supporters of locking people up without charge or trial are getting ready to play yet another trick on the American people.

Late yesterday, Congressman Scott Rigell and 26 other members of Congress introduced a bill, H.R. 4388, which he is trying to sell to the American people as a “fix” for the National Defense Authorization Act. But in fact, it is a useless bill that might actually end up causing harm.

That’s right. The plan in the House of Representatives seems to be to try to fool Americans into thinking that they are fixing the indefinite detention problems with the NDAA and the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, when in fact, they are doing nothing good.

Don’t be fooled!

Here’s how they hope their trick will work. H.R. 4388, which was sneakily mistitled as the “Right to Habeas Corpus Act,” states that no one in the United States will lose their habeas rights under the NDAA. That might sound like something good, but it’s meaningless.

The question with the NDAA was never whether habeas rights are lost. Instead, the question is whether and when any president can order the military to imprison a person without charge or trial. The NDAA did not take away habeas rights from anyone, but it did codify a dangerous indefinite detention without charge or trial scheme. And nothing in the proposed bill by Rigell would change it. The Rigell bill won’t stop any president from ordering the military lockup of civilians without charge or trial.

And there’s more. Not only is it a useless bill, but it could end up causing harm too. It doesn’t accurately and fully list who is entitled to habeas (for example, it doesn’t even mention American citizens traveling outside the country), which could end up causing confusion.

They are hoping you will fall for their trick and waste all your time and energy on something meaningless — and not fight for legislation that actually protects people from indefinite detention without charge or trial.

They are hoping you will ignore the bills that actually are first steps towards fixing the NDAA. Congressman Adam Smith and Sen. Mark Udall introduced H.R. 4192/S. 2175, which codifies a ban on the military imprisoning civilians without charge or trial or trying persons before military commissions within the United States, as well as repeals section 1022 of last year’s NDAA. Also, Congressman Ron Paul has sponsored H.R. 3785, which repeals section 1021 of the NDAA. Both are meaningful first steps towards fixing a problem.

Supporters of last year’s NDAA indefinite detention provisions hope you will fall for their trick. They want you to spend your time pushing for the Rigell bill, instead of working on something meaningful. For more information about our opposition to the bill, you can read the letter that we sent to congressional offices earlier this week. Retweet our tweet to Rigell to tell him to stop playing games with indefinite detention without charge or trial.

April 20, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments