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Lawsuit Plaintiffs & Hundreds of Activists will ‘Flood’ 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Fight Against NDAA Indefinite Detention

Lawsuit Plaintiffs & Hundreds of Activists will ‘Flood’ 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Fight Against NDAA Indefinite Detention

[New York, NY] A lawsuit over a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will be back in federal court at 10am on February 6, 2013, awaiting decision on an injunction prohibiting indefinite detention of civilians without charge or trial. A group of academics, journalists, and activists filed suit last year over § 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA alleging that the provision suspended due process rights and threatened first amendment protections.

flood the court MEME

In a landmark ruling last September the plaintiffs —former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges, RevolutionTruth founder Jennifer “Tangerine” Bolen, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, linguist and author Noam Chomsky, Icelandic Parliamentarian Brigitta Jonsdottir, US Day of Rage founder Alexa O’Brien, and Occupy London activist Kai Wargalla— were awarded a permanent, worldwide injunction against the provision by Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of NY (2nd Circuit).  In her ruling Judge Forrest, an Obama appointee, challenged the Justice Department attorneys for refusing to provide assurances that journalists and activists would not be indefinitely detained under the provision for exercising first amendment rights:

“Not once in any of its submissions in this action or at either the March or August hearings has the Government said, ‘First Amendment activities are not covered and could never be encompassed by § 1021(b)(2). This Court rejects the Government’s suggestion that American citizens can be placed in military detention indefinitely, for acts they could not predict might subject them to detention, and have as their sole remedy a habeas petition…That scenario dispenses with a number of guaranteed rights.”

Despite including a signing statement expressing deep reservations over the “indefinite detention provision” and promising not to use such powers against American citizens, President Obama immediately appealed Judge Forrest’s ruling, and sought an emergency stay on the injunction, claiming “irreparable harm” would be incurred by the US if the government lacked the ability to indefinitely detain civilians under section 1021.

“This is the final battle between the restoration of due process along with our most cherished civil liberties and the imposition of a military state,” said Chris Hedges, “if we lose this battle, will be vulnerable to being seized on American soil by the military, stripped of due process and held in indefinate detention in military facilities, including our off-shore penal colonies. It is up to federal judges now to pull us back form the brink.  Our legal challenge to section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA is one of the defining moments of our era.”

The suit has been joined by over two dozen organizations and individuals who have filed Amicus Curiae briefs in support of the plaintiff’s claims that § 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA is over-broad and facially unconstitutional.  One such supporting brief, filed by Karen and Ken Korematsu (Children of Fred Korematsu & each Amici in this case), draws a chilling comparison between indefinite detention under the auspices of the war on terror and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II:

Korematsu remains on the pages of our legal and political history. As a legal precedent it is now recognized as having very limited application. As historical precedent it stands as a constant caution that in times of war or declared military necessity our institutions must be vigilant in protecting constitutional guarantees. It stands as a caution that in times of distress the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability. It stands as a caution that in times of international hostility and antagonisms our institutions, legislative, executive and judicial, must be prepared to exercise their authority to protect all citizens from the petty fears and prejudices that are so easily aroused.”

In opposition to the plaintiffs Senators John McCainLindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte have utilized the Amicus process to file a brief in support of the government’s use of § 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA and have taken the unusual step of filing a motion requesting 10 minutes of oral argument time in the February 6th, 2012 proceedings, claiming the need for the Senate body to be represented in court when it comes to indefinite detention.  Plaintiff attorneys are awaiting word on whether the 2nd Circuit will grant this motion.

UPDATE: On Thursday, January 31st, 2012 attorneys for the plaintiffs received notice that McCain, Graham and Ayotte were awarded a 5 minute oral argument at the proceeding. To compensate for this the 2nd circuit also added 5 minutes onto the plaintiff argument (allowing for 20 minutes total).

A bipartisan coalition of groups backing this lawsuit, including Demand Progress, RevolutionTruth, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the Tenth Amendment Center, are calling on members and supporters to join the plaintiffs in court. Activists promoting a call to “Flood the Courthouse” have already received over 300 RSVP’s from activists and supporters of the plaintiffs

Plaintiff and lawsuit coordinator Tangerine Bolen will lead a press conference upon adjournment of the court session. Speakers will include Tangerine Bolen, Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Bruce Afran, Alexa O’Brien, Cornel West, Thomas Drake, Jesselyn Radack and a number of others working to prevent indefinite detention and restore civil liberties.

To obtain video of the press conference or to arrange an interview with any of the plaintiffs or counsel please contact Andy Stepanian at andy@sparrowmedia.net or 631.291.3010.

COURT ARGUMENTS & ACTIVIST SOLIDARITY ACTION

WHAT: Oral Arguments in NDAA Court Ruling & Activist Solidarity Action
WHERE: 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, Thurgood Marshall Courthouse
(Room 1505, 15th floor), 40 Foley Square, NYC
WHEN: 10am Wednesday, February 6, 2013
INFO: Stop NDAA Lawsuit | Facebook RSVP

PRESS CONFERENCE

WHAT: Press Conference with Plaintiffs, Counsel, and Supporters
(Daniel Ellsberg, Chris Hedges, Bruce Afran, Tangerine Bolen, Alexa O’Brien, Cornel West)
WHERE: Foley Square, NYC (directly across from courthouse steps)
WHEN: After Court Adjourns (Approximately 11:30am Wednesday, February 6, 2013)
INFO: Stop NDAA Lawsuit | Facebook RSVP

• Suggested reading: Echoes of Korematsu by Noor Elashi

Activists & Journalists Sue President Over NDAA’s Chilling Effect on Constitutional Protections

Activists & Journalists Sue President Over NDAA’s Chilling Effect on Constitutional Protections

[NEW YORK, NY] The first round of statements from seven high-profile plaintiffs suing President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, House Speakers, and DOD Representatives seeking injunctive relief barring the implementation of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)’s “Homeland Battlefield” provisions of indefinite detention and suspension of Habeas Corpus was heard in federal court last week. The first hearing took place in front of Hon. Kathryn B. Forrest at the U.S. District Court in New York City on Thursday, March 29th, 2012.

During the 3/29 hearing, Alexa O’Brien of U.S. Day of Rage spoke about running the group’s website. She indicated that she received a warning about her affiliations and that she now has deep concerns about continuing her activities since the passage of NDAA.

The NDAA’s Sub-Section 1021 (b)(2) would allow the military to detain anyone it suspects “substantially supported” terrorists or their “associated forces,” and would allow the military to keep them detained until “the end of hostilities.” The specific use of the terms “associated forces” and “substantial support,” terms which have not been defined within the subsection or elsewhere in the bill, is at the core of the plaintiff’s challenge. The plaintiffs are challenging that the vague, over-broad, language is so nebulous that it creates a space where their journalism or non-violent activism may be threatened by the provisions. Moreover, Sub-Section 1021 (b)(2) creates a space for the indefinite detention of targeted individuals, including US citizens, and denies their protections under Habeas Corpus.

Icelandic Parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottír did not attend the hearing, due to her fear of being detained because of her support of WikiLeaks. She instead submitted a written piece that was read by the author Naomi Wolf. Jonsdottír’s twitter account has been subpoenaed as part of a U.S. led investigation.

Kai Wargalla, Deputy Director of RevolutionTruth and an organizer with Occupy London expressed reluctance to continue with her organization’s online “Live Panels” since they may feature individuals the U.S. government could perceive to be terrorists or as having affiliations with terrorists. When asked by the judge whether the British government had threatened her, Wargalla replied, “Other than describing my group as a terrorist group, no”.

Plaintiffs Jennifer “Tangerine” Bolen, a civil liberties advocate and independent journalist who hosts Live Panel discussions with activists and revolutionaries from around the globe, spearheaded this multi-plaintiff lawsuit due to fears of her own safety under the NDAA. Ms. Bolen, Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg were unable to testify on March 29th but may be called in Round Two of this lawsuit.

The plaintiff’s lawyers stressed that the definitional terms used in Sub-Section 1021 were vague and would have the effect of “chilling” speech and dissent due to the threat of detention. They also read into the court record that President Obama, upon signing the bill, made a statement that he signed the bill despite reservations about detention, interrogation and prosecution of American citizens. The plaintiff’s lawyers continued on to state that the bill contradicts fundamental principles of American government, and that the military should not be involved in civilian prosecutions.

During Christopher Hedges’ testimony he delineated his coverage while embedded in El Salvador, Gaza, Iraq, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. He cited controversial people he had interviewed, many of whom have affiliations with terrorist groups. During testimony Hedges said, “…what I find to be frightening is when the definition of ‘associated forces’ is ruled by a Manichean vision of the world (such as Oliver North, George Bush, Cheney) whose thinking is binary – i.e. good/bad; black/white…. in their assessment I would be a terrorist”. He also drew a comparison between the “Authorization for Use of Military Force” passed just post 9/11 and the NDAA’s Section 1021, with the former being a declaration of war specifically on those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks whereas this new law expands beyond enemy combatants to bring ordinary people into the rubric – people who were not even part of 9/11.

While on the stand the plaintiff’s lawyer handed Hedges a list of terrorist groups as designated by the U.S. government and he indicated that he had reported on seventeen of them and that in his opinion some of these organizations are engaged in hostilities with coalition partners. He then went on to describe upcoming lectures and a book he plans to release and inferred fears about his safety in carrying them out since enactment of NDAA. He indicated his fears stem from the belief “that we’ve undergone a corporate coup d’etat in slow motion” and that “NDAA is a quantum deterioration of the ability to exercize free speech”. He further indicated that prior to the passage of NDAA he had no fear of detention. “Every investigative reporter will tell you that [information] sources have dried up. Six whistleblowers are currently detained”.

As the 3/29 hearing came to a close Judge Forrest questioned whether the language in the statute provides sufficient information for the plaintiffs vis a vis the terms “associated forces” and “substantial support” of terrorists. Points were raised in these closing discussions surrounding the fact that journalists’ speech is “chilled” because they don’t know how to interpret these terms. The government lawyers were unable to reassure the plaintiffs in these questions. The government lawyers non-response was an affirmation that the verbiage in NDAA is in fact vague, simplistic and nebulous, thus they had little to draw upon in respect to providing the plaintiffs or the judge answers.

Plaintiffs were joined by Dr. Cornel West for a press conference outside the courtroom that afternoon, an archive of the press conference is available HERE

After leaving the courtroom Carl Mayer, an attorney for the plaintiffs said, “I believe the plaintiffs proved in federal court why they are ‘the Freedom Seven‘. The plaintiffs demonstrated definitively that the Homeland Battlefield Act is massively ‘chilling’ free speech and intimidating activists and journalists in this country. America is not a Battlefield and we will fight this law to the highest court in the land, if we have to.”

You can read or print a copy of the plaintiffs lawsuit at THIS LINK the text of the NDAA in its entirety is available at THIS LINK. For more information on the case and it’s plaintiffs visit www.stopNDAA.org

US anti-terrorism law curbs free speech and activist work, court told – The Guardian

The reason I’m helping Chris Hedges’ lawsuit against the NDAA – The Guardian

Lawyers tested in court over anti-terrorism act – Reuters

Lawyers tested in court over anti-terrorism act – The Chicago Tribune

Headlines
– Democracy Now! (1/2)

Journalists, Activists Challenge NDAA in Federal Suit [5:30 mark] – Democracy Now! (2/2)

Someone You Love: Coming to a Gulag Near You – Truthdig

Bruce Afran, NDAA Threatens Free Speech – The Majority Report

Chris Hedges: “No Outcry Within Media” on NDAA – Current TV

Humanae Tempore Ignis (NDAA) – The Daily Kos

Hedges: NDAA is ‘chilling’ the practice of journalism – Raw Story

NDAA needs definite attention – Minnesota Daily

Press TV

RT, The Aylona Show

RT America

RT America, Newshour

RT America, Newshour (Hedges Interview)

RT America, Alyona Show

Russia Voice Radio

China Daily

International Business Times (1/3)

International Business Times (2/3)

International Business Times (3/3)

Only YOU can prevent a Totalitarian police state – The Collegian

Lawsuit Seeking Injunction Against NDAA Misinterprets Law, Administration, Lawmakers Say – Homeland Security Today [negative]

U.S. anti-terrorism law curbs free speech and activist work, court told – Raw Story

Hot Stuff: NDAA Lawsuit – Smiley & West

How Does a ‘Common Citizen’ Know If They Can Be Target of NDAA? – FireDogLake

Lawyers tested in court over anti-terrorism act – MSNBC Newsvine

FindLaw

Yahoo News

Q&A with Naomi Wolf and Alexa O’Brien: the NDAA and free speechThe Guardian (Blog)

Daylong Tussle on ‘Homeland Battlefield’ Law – Courthouse News

Journalists, Activists Challenge NDAA LawCommon Dreams

Lawyers tested in court over anti-terrorism act – 99.9 Radio

Paleo Radio (Pacifica)

Court Hears Arguments In Lawsuit Against …Indefinite Detention Law – Prison Planet

‘Terrorists’ at Home – Egypt Daily News

NDAA, Who Does It Apply to?
The Lone Republic

Freedom Seven Strike Back Against NDAA And Unlimited Detention Without Due Process – Suicide Girls

PeaceNews.org

Journalists, Activists Challenge Government ‘Vagueness’ In Indefinite Detention Statute – All Voices

‘War on terror’ comes home to the US The Gulf Times

New York Raw Video (clip of march)

Lawsuit: Journalists Fear First Amendment Infringed by NDAAThe New American