Chris Hedges' Indefinite Detention Lawsuit and the Struggle to Restore Our Civil Liberties

Posted March 26, 2014

MP3 Interview with Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, conducted by Scott Harris

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When President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, on Dec. 31, 2011, civil liberties advocates were alarmed at several provisions within the legislation, particularly Section 1021, which empowers current and all future presidents to indefinitely imprison U.S. citizens and non-citizens who were either 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." Persons accused under this provision can be held by the U.S. military indefinitely or transferred to any nation in the world, without charge, trial or access to an attorney.

A lawsuit challenging this measure was filed on Jan. 13, 2012, on behalf of seven plaintiffs contesting the legality of what they assert are unconstitutional provisions of the NDAA. Their plaintiffs in the case, known as “Hedges vs. Obama,” include former New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and America’s most well-known dissident and MIT linguist Noam Chomsky.

On Sept. 12, 2012, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York, Katherine Forrest. issued a permanent injunction that barred the U.S. government from applying indefinite military detention to U.S. citizens. But the Obama administration appealed that decision to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which on July 17, 2013 overturned Judge Forrest’s permanent injunction, declaring that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to challenge the indefinite detention powers specified in the NDAA. On Dec. 16, 2013, the plaintiffs appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they hope to overturn congressional support of presidential powers to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with journalist and author Chris Hedges, who provides an update on his case and talks about the urgency of restoring civil liberties lost since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Chris Hedges' most recent book, co-written with cartoonist Joe Sacco, is titled, "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt." Find more news and analysis on indefinite detention and NSA dragnet surveillance at Stop The NDAA at stopndaa.org/aboutlawsuit/.

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