Tag Archives: Chris Hedges

Activists, Journalists Celebrate as Judge Issues Permanent Injunction Against NDAA.

Activists, Journalists Celebrate as Judge Issues Permanent Injunction Against NDAA.

[New York, NY] Judge Katherine Forrest ruled yesterday that the so-called “indefinite detention” provision (subsection 1021) of the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) violates the Constitution and issued a permanent injunction against its application.

The law would have allowed the military to indefinitely detain civilians without charge or trial if they are accused of certain crimes, or even accused of associations with certain listed forces.  Judge Forrest in her ruling reaffirmed that to criminalize one’s associative conduct in this manner could chill the first amendment protections of journalists who may want to conduct interviews with individuals listed by the government as extremists.

The lead plaintiff in this lawsuit is former New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges.  He is joined by six others, including Noam Chomsky and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.

“This is a tremendous victory for the rule of law and the right of all U.S. citizens, regardless of their ideological persuasions, to be afforded due process.  It restores the two century ban on the use of the military by the state for domestic policing.  Judge Katherine Forrest, in an era when federal judges often seem to issue rulings about why they cannot implement the law, has with this injunction restored one of our most cherished Constitutional rights.  The Obama administration will no doubt appeal this decision.  We will continue to fight back.  It is not over yet.  But I, and I hope all Americans, can sleep a little more easily tonight,” said Chris Hedges this morning when asked about Judge Forrest’s ruling.

Attorney for the plaintiffs, Carl J. Mayer had a bold message to share with the President regarding any possible plans to appeal the administration may have, “President, and former Constitutional Law Professor Obama, knows that the so-called Homeland Battlefield Act or NDAA is unconstitutional and we are calling on him and his Attorney General to drop any appeal in this case and honor the opinion of the President’s own appointee: Judge Katherine Forrest.  September 12 was an important day in American history; it is rare for the Court’s to declare an Act of Congress unconstitutional.  But as the Judge noted, ‘the stakes could not be higher’ and fortunately the citizens, our democracy and the Constitution remain triumphant.”

Plaintiff and Iceland Parlamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir shared a unique perspective that, “With Judge Forrest ruling, the USA halted, even if only for a brief moment the alarming erosion of civil liberties since 911. I feel proud to be part of such a historical ruling in favor of the basic freedoms that used to be the legacy of the USA. This case is a perfect example some individuals make a difference in our world.”

“Forrest’s ruling understands that the most fundamental crisis of Government is a crisis of trust in the institutions of Government (checks & balances).  The Executive spins its fatal sophistry, while disloyal and incompetent interests usurped our nation’s civil and military power, spawning a host of real threats to liberty and to national security.  They passing laws, like the NDAA, which prey on the resources and spirits of citizens. Thanks to Forrest, we persevere…” exclaimed activist, journalist, and plaintiff Alexa O’Brien.

According to plaintiff and activist Tangerine Bolen, “The steady assault on the US Constitution was dramatically slowed yesterday, as Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in our favor and against a dangerous and unconstitutional provision of the NDAA. After eleven years of watching our civil liberties erode we have reason to celebrate this week.”

Plaintiffs fear that Obama will continue to defend the law, by choosing to appeal the ruling to a higher court.

Activist group Demand Progress — whose million-plus members have helped support the lawsuit — urged Americans to demand that Obama not appeal the ruling, and that senators oppose indefinite detention when it comes up for a vote this fall.

You can sign their petition and email your senators at: http://act.demandprogress.org/letter/ndaa_lawsuit_win/

Demand Progress executive director David Segal said, “It’s wonderful to see judge Forrest — a recent Obama appointee — buck the administration and stand up for the Constitution.  Our members urge Obama to stop defending this obscene abuse of executive authority, and ask our senators to oppose indefinite detention when they vote on the NDAA later this fall.”

You can read Judge Forrest’s entire statement HERE

UPDATE: (2pm EST 9/13/2012) the staff of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara made an appearance at the Federal Courthouses at 500 Pearl Street in New York City to file a notice of appeal on behalf of the Obama Administration.  The notice should read as a clear indication of the administrations intentions to appeal Judge Forrest’s decision to a higher court.


Violence & Legitimacy in the Occupy Movement & Beyond: A Debate between Chris Hedges & the CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective

Violence & Legitimacy in the Occupy Movement & Beyond: A Debate between Chris Hedges & the CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective

[NEW YORK, NY] On February 6th, 2012 Chris Hedges published “Black Bloc: The Cancer in Occupy” on his syndicated Truthdig column, since that day the internet has been ablaze with passion on both sides of an argument that at it’s very least is attempting to draw a line between perceived “legitimate” tactics and “illegitimate” tactics used in-and-by social struggles.  On Wednesday, September 12th, immediately before the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, we will meet Chris Hedges at the CUNY Grad Center in New York City for a public debate about diversity of tactics. This debate is free and open to the public & will be livestreamed for those who can’t attend.

Violence and Legitimacy in the Occupy Movement and Beyond:
A Debate between Chris Hedges and CrimethInc. on Tactics & Strategy, Reform & Revolution

Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 7:00 pm
Proshansky Auditorium
Lower level, CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue (@ 34th street)
New York City, NY 10016

Not in NYC? A free livestream of the event will be available online.

Why a debate?
Since Occupy Wall Street took Zuccotti Park in September 2011, there has been a resurgence of social movement activity in the United States. As momentum has increased, age-old questions over tactics, strategy, and goals have returned to the fore.

What is violence? Who gets to define it? Do illegal actions have a place in our movements? This discussion never takes place in a vacuum or on a level playing field; rather, it occurs within the context of a struggle that is already in progress, where every statement has immediate ramifications for the participants. Differing tactical approaches often reflect fundamental differences in strategy and goals.  At the core of these issues is the question: What are we fighting for and how do we get there?

This moderated debate will feature:

Chris Hedges, Journalist

Chris Hedges is an American journalist, author, and war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies. He will speak to the perspectives behind his controversial article “The Cancer in Occupy”regarding black bloc tactics and anarchist participation in the Occupy movement.

B. Traven, CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective
B. Traven will support the case for a diversity of tactics in the Occupy movement and in broader anti-capitalist struggles worldwide, illustrating an anarchist critique of the status quo and a vision of social transformation. CrimethInc. has produced many books and articles, including  “The Illegitimacy of Violence, the Violence of Legitimacy,” composed in part as a response to Hedges’ “The Cancer in Occupy.”

Moderated by Sujatha Fernandes, CUNY Graduate Center

Sujatha Fernandes is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of several books on urban politics and culture; the latest is “Close to the Edge: In Search of the Global Hip Hop Generation” (Verso). She has written about the Occupy movement and recent global uprisings for The New York Times and The Huffington Post.

Opening remarks by Sarah Leonard, Dissent Magazine

Sarah Leonard is an editor and writer living in Brooklyn, with particular interest in Left politics and the cultural effects of technology. She is an editor of The New Inquiry, Associate Editor at Dissent magazine, and a co-editor of Occupied!: Scenes from Occupied America.

You can download posters & handbills to promote the event HERE

Poster: Color : B&W
Handbill: Color : B&W

Co-sponsored by
CUNY Graduate Center, CrimethInc. Ex-Workers CollectiveAid & AbetThe Sparrow ProjectOccupied MediaThe IndypendentPM PressBluestockings Bookstore


Federal Judge Hears Arguments For Permanent Injunction Against NDAA Indefinite Detention

Federal Judge Hears Arguments For Permanent Injunction Against NDAA Indefinite Detention

[NEW YORK, NY] Today at 2pm at 500 Pearl St. in Manhattan Judge Katherine Forrest will hear arguments by plaintiffs and the government relative to an effort to block the government from using new “indefinite detention” powers.

The lawsuit, brought by journalist Chris Hedges, Professor Noam Chomsky, activist Daniel Ellsberg (leaker of the Pentagon Papers) and others argues that the government’s assertion of the right to detain civilians indefinitely and without charge or trial violates the Constitution. The provision in question was passed in late 2011 as part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Judge Forrest —a recent Obama appointee— has concurred with the plaintiffs and earlier this year issued a temporary restraining order against the government’s use of the indefinite detention powers. Today she will hear arguments for and against issuing a permanent order. The hearing is expected to last 3-4 hours. Attorneys for the plaintiffs, and lead plaintiff Chris Hedges will speak to the press afterwards.

For more information, and to sign on as a supporter of the lawsuit, Internet users may visit www.StopNDAA.org

Civil liberties organizations Demand Progress and Revolution Truth have provided grassroots and monetary support for the lawsuit. According to Demand Progress executive director David Segal, “We are hopeful that Judge Forrest will make clear that the government’s assertion of indefinite detention powers is an obscene violation of basic tenets of our Constitution; she deserves the acclaim of all Americans for protecting our rights to speech, association, and due process by placing a rare check on executive power run amok.”


Activists Declare Victory as Ruling Cripples Indefinite Detention Under the NDAA

Activists Declare Victory as Ruling Cripples Indefinite Detention Under the NDAA

[New York, NY] Today as congress prepares to vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) a federal judge has handed down a ruling that would prohibit the enforcement of two highly controversial sections within the NDAA should it pass.

The 68 page ruling handed down by the newly-appointed NYC Federal Judge Katherine Forrest issues a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of section 1021 (the section subjecting apprehended targets to indefinite military detention) and moreover facially challenges that the language in the section itself is unconstitutional.   Judge Forrest’s ruling is being championed by journalists and activists as a tremendous victory for civil liberties, due process and human rights.

The ruling came as part of a lawsuit filed by attorneys Bruce I. Afran and Carl J. Mayer on behalf of 7 high-profile plaintiffs including former New York Times war corespondent Chris Hedges, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, celebrated writer and linguist Noam Chomsky, Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir, Jennifer “Tangerine” Bolen founder of the activist media group RevolutionTruth, Occupy London activist Kai Wargalla, and Alexa O’Brien founder  of the web campaign “US Day of Rage.”  Each of the plaintiffs in the Hedges v. Obama lawsuit share a common narrative that their constitutionally protected work, either in activism or in journalism would be chilled by the over-broad provisions set forth under the NDAA.

“Judge Forrest has splendidly defended the Constitution—which has been under almost continuous attack by the Bush and Obama administrations—by abrogating the NDAA, the latest assault on the First and Fifth Amendments.  It’s a great day for all who want to live in a free society!” says Daniel Ellsberg, plaintiff in the case.

“There is a strong public interest in protecting rights guaranteed by the First Amendment,” judge 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.”

“I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge,” said plaintiff Chris Hedges “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.”

Hedges v. Obama quickly became a multi-plaintiff action with the help of Jennifer Bolen who sought out candidates whose otherwise constitutionally protected activities could be the subject of judicial overreach under the NDAA.  “I initiated this multi-plaintiff lawsuit because we have witnessed the government use the war on terror as an excuse to steadily destroy the rights guaranteed by the US Constitution,” said Bolen “Today was an amazing victory—perhaps the most encouraging ruling against the US government in years— already it has given a lot of people hope. This is only the beginning, but now we know we can win.”  Judge Forest, upon hearing the testimony of the plaintiffs Bolen selected, determined that some had already changed their associative conduct protected under the first amendment.  Seeing that the NDAA’s inability to identify actors already had an impact on the plaintiffs conduct further influenced Forest’s ruling.

“Section 1021 tries to do too much with too little – it lacks the minimal requirements of definition and scienter that could easily have been added, or could be added, to allow it to pass constitutional muster,” Forrest wrote.

“This is a victory in a case that many have regarded as having no prospect of success. Let this victory be a message to everyone, not only in the US, but around the globe – to be encouraged to stand up and speak out in the fight for our freedoms and rights. To not give up. To not be silenced. We will win in the end. This is just the beginning,” said Occupy London organizer and plaintiff Kai Wargalla.

“Through the action of a few individuals we managed to turn the tables in the favor of a world we all choose to live [in], a world that honors in action and by law freedom of expression and speech. With the ruling of Judge Forrest the USA might have a [chance] to reclaim the important role of setting the global standards for freedom of information and speech, ” said Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir.

“No nation on earth ever found just or stable governance in vague laws with secret interpretations.  No executive can ever claim independence or strength when their office is owned by entrenched and corrupt factions, who use financial power to change laws to make themselves richer and silence dissent. Government’s independence derives from its dependence on the people alone.  Those are our principles.  I am very happy with the Judge’s ruling today.  It’s not over yet,” said plaintiff Alexa O’Brien of US Day of Rage.

The actions in the courtroom were complimented by a groundswell of grassroots support from activists mobilized largely through the internet. “More than 50,000 Revolution Truth and Demand Progress members have signed up as grassroots supporters of the lawsuit, and nearly 250,000 Demand Progress members have urged Congress to end indefinite detention.  We hope this injunction will serve as a wake up call to Congress, make it clear just how egregious was the inclusion of indefinite detention in last year’s NDAA, and get them to strike that language during today’s vote.” said David Segal, Executive director at Demand Progress a grassroots campaign that will bring nearly 300,000 signatures of supporters speaking out against indefinite detention to congress today.

This grassroots effort was largely made possible by volunteers like Lucas Vazquez, a Student Activist and Organizer with Occupy Wall Street.  When asked about yesterday’s ruling Lucas had this to say, “I volunteered to work on the NDAA lawsuit because I feel a responsibility as an activist and Occupier to challenge the government’s unconstitutional and expanded powers to target the activist community, among many other groups, through the broad and undefined language in section 1021.”  For other volunteers like Andy Stepanian, who coordinated media relations for the lawsuit and once served a federal prison sentence for his activism, the effort was personal. “Having served time in federal prison alongside other political detainees the legal challenge to the NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions is a deeply personal battle for me,” said Stepanian “I hope that judge Forrest’s ruling will open a door for examinations of the over-broad Material Support for Terrorists Statute, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and other intentionally vague designer statutes.”

A call-in press conference will take place at 10am EST on Friday May, 18th, 2012 to allow members of the press to speak with the plaintiffs and the legal team, to request a dial-in number & pin for the call please email Andy Stepanian at andy[at]sparrowmedia[dot]net.  Judge Forrest’s ruling is available in it’s entirety HERE.   You can read or print a copy of the plaintiffs lawsuit HERE and the text of the NDAA in its entirety is available HERE. For more information on the case and it’s plaintiffs please visit www.stopNDAA.org

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

– 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


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


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