Following reports that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “short list” for a possible commutation, the Internet has exploded with support for the imprisoned transgender transparency advocate. Over the weekend, thousands of people started taking part in a spontaneous #HugsForChelsea campaign, posting photos of themselves with their arms outstretched as if waiting to give Chelsea Manning a hug, calling for President Obama to grant her clemency. Some prominent individuals including Michael Stipe of REM, Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, and the punk band Anti-Flag, have joined the effort.
See a selection of #HugsForChelsea photos here, see the landing page for the campaign here.
“Chelsea has so much love and support coming from people across the political spectrum,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who posted the first #HugsForChelsea photo, “She has suffered enough. People are coming out of the woodwork to speak out. President Obama needs to do the right thing and free her now. After getting to know her as one of her supporters over the last year, I personally can’t wait to give her a hug.”
“As President Obama’s days in office wind down, people from all walks of life are standing in solidarity with Chelsea and urging the President to save her before it is too late,” said Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s ACLU attorney. “After years of suffering in prison under horrific conditions including long stretches of solitary confinement, the denial of health care for gender dysphoria and arbitrary punishments including for attempting suicide, Chelsea needs to be set free before this treatment results in her death.”
More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.
Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison
The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation
Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Obama supporting clemency
Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release
A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.
[NEW YORK, NY] Jeremy Hammond, a 28-year-old political activist, will be sentenced Friday, November 15 at the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York [500 Pearl St, The Ceremonial Courtroom on the 9th Floor] after pleading guilty to participating in the Anonymous hack into the computers of the private intelligence firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor). An outpouring of support by journalists, activists and other whistleblowers in the run-up to the sentencing hearing has focused on Jeremy Hammond’s actions as civil disobedience, motivated by a desire to protest and expose the secret activities of private intelligence corporations.
Jeremy Hammond’s attorneys have submitted a sentencing memorandum on his behalf asking for a sentence of time served, a call supported by 5,000 people in petitions hosted by Change.org and Demand Progress. Additionally, over 250 letters addressed to the Judge from friends, family, journalists, academics, the tech community, and prominent whistleblowers have been included with the memorandum. Among these is a letter cosigned by 17 editors and journalists representing international media outlets in fifteen countries with a combined audience of 500 million people.
Many of the supporters plan to be present at Mr. Hammond’s sentencing to voice their concern and to raise public awareness of the disproportionate sentences associated with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which grants greater protection to corporations than those it affords to individuals. Private companies like Stratfor account for 70 percent of the government intelligence budget and often operate without public scrutiny or government oversight.
The information released by Mr. Hammond for the first time gives the American people and others in the world a picture of the role that private intelligence corporations play in surveillance of legally and constitutionally protected activities and the activists involved. The Stratfor documents have given us the understanding that private intelligence companies may be a bigger problem for civil liberties than our own government and it is these companies that we ought to be suing as we pursue government accountability for surveillance,” said Michael Ratner, President Emeritus at The Center for Constitutional Rights.
In a letter of support for Mr. Hammond, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote: “My decision to go public with the Pentagon Papers was a difficult one. At my own risk, I released them, just as Jeremy Hammond has done. I believe the actions taken by Jeremy Hammond need to be viewed in a context that considers the profound consequences of private surveillance of political activists in the United States.”
“[Jeremy Hammond] performed an act of civil disobedience out of a deeply held belief that the people have a right to know what the government and unregulated corporations are doing behind closed doors against them,” wrote Jesselyn Radack, a whistleblower and former ethics adviser to the Department of Justice, in a letter of support for Jeremy. “He is a patriot who only sought to provide transparency and expose the surveillance crimes being perpetrated on the American people.”
A longtime social activist and proponent of ethical hacking, Jeremy has stated that he revealed the information about Stratfor because “people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors.”
Originally facing a sentence totaling more than 35 years and additional indictments in 12 other federal jurisdictions, Jeremy pled to a single count of conspiracy under the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). He faces a maximum of ten years. Jeremy’s co-defendants from England and Ireland have received sentences ranging from probation to 30 months in prison and are not likely to be extradited to the US.
To speak to members of the defense committee or to some of the people who wrote letters to the Court on Mr. Hammond’s behalf, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.716.1953 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The sentencing hearing for Jeremy Hammond is scheduled for November 15, 2013 at 10 AM at Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, 500 Pearl Street, in the Ceremonial Courtroom on the 9th floor. For interviews at the November 15 hearing, contact Andy Stepanian, 631.291.3010, email@example.com.
The Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee is a coalition of family members, activists, lawyers, and other supporters who are working together to protect free speech and to support Jeremy Hammond. The committee’s goal is to provide information to the public and the press, to organize events related to Jeremy’s case, and to support Jeremy while he is in jail. For more information, please visit http://freejeremy.net
[New York, NY/ Washington, DC] A lawsuit over a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was back in a federal appeals court at 10am on February 6, 2013, awaiting decision on an injunction prohibiting indefinite detention of civilians without charge or trial. Today news broke that the Supreme Court would not grant a seperate application by the plaintiffs to vacate the stay on Judge Katherine Forrest’s injunction baring the use of indefinite detention under § 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA. You can read the supreme court transcript HERE (#12A600).
A group of academics, journalists, and activists filed the successful suit last fall over § 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA alleging that the provision suspended due process rights and threatened first amendment protections. On September 15, 2012 the plaintiffs were awarded apermanent injunctionby Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York. Their victory is being appealed by the Obama administration. Both sides, as well as lawyers for Senators McCain, Ayotte, and Graham, presented oral arguments to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals during the February 6th proceeding.
For the reader who is unfamiliar with legalese, or the trajectory of cases like this, there are two concrete points to take away from what has transpired thus far…
The first point is that Judge Forrest’s ruling was not only historic in that she stood up to the same administration that appointed her, but also because it underscored the fact that these plaintiffs each had standing in the case. This means that it was Judge Forrest’s interpretation that each plaintiff, could be at risk for indefinite detention under § 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, for their otherwise constitutionally protected work as journalists or activists.
The second point was revealed in the 24 hours after Judge Forrest issued her permanent injunction on September 15th, 2012, when the Obama Administration filed a request for an “emergency stay” of her ruling. While, an appeal of the ruling was expected from the Obama Administration, no one could have expected the speed and ferocity in which they would file their request, especially with only a little over a month until election day. This led many to suppose that this administration has either inherited detainees who were imprisoned indefinitely using powers similar to those outlined in § 1021(b)(2) or are regularly using these powers themselves, and thus would be in contempt of court if Judge Forrest’s ruling stood.
Chris Hedges highlighted this supposition in his remarks made during the press conference outside the 2/6 hearing in the Second Circuit, “…the Obama Administration didn’t just appeal, they demanded an emergency stay,” said Hedges, “which means they wanted the Judge to put this law back into effect, immediately, until the second circuit could hear the appeal. Judge Forrest, to her credit, refused, and so the Obama Administration went to the Second Circuit, and demanded an emergency stay, which the second circuit gave them. Now the supposition can only be made …that they responded this aggressively because they are already using the law. If they are holding American Citizens and denying them due process, as I suspect they are, probably with US-Pakastani Dual-Nationals in places like Bagram and that injunction was allowed to stand they would be in contempt of court.”
This supposition is the most frightening part of the narrative surrounding § 1021(b)(2) as it infers that, for quite some time, American authorities were using detention powers that they never had, and only now are attempting to create a retroactive mandate that would make legal their previously illegal detentions. This revelation (if properly articulated) may be the integral component to finally forcing the mainstream media to cover this complicated and previously politically taboo issue.
On February 4th the White Papers detailing the United States’ targeted killing policies were leaked to Michael Isikoff at NBC News subsequently forcing many of the mainstream outlets to question the bloat of executive powers post 9/11. This provided a unique opportunity to insert talking points into this discourse about similar misuse of executive and military powers under § 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA.
While the controversy over expanded powers like those granted in § 1021(b)(2) should occupy international headlines, to date we have not seen this issue widely covered. Some can speculate that proper coverage of the NDAA was hindered by the 2012 Presidential Election, while others attribute a lack of proper coverage to conspiratorial misrepresentations of the NDAA by pundits like Alex Jones, either way the deeply troubling elements of § 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA did not generate the media coverage and public outcry it deserved, but this may be changing…
The “Flood the Court” event called for by activists on February 6th could not be ignored as it drew hundreds of people to the Second Circuit in protest of § 1021. Similarly it saw a dozens of media outlets in attendance beyond that of the alternative outlets and citizen journalists who have tirelessly dedicated themselves to this story. All of the press generated from the event was positive and in favor of the plaintiff’s arguments, including some major and mainstream hits in The New York Times, The Guardian, Reuters, and The New York Law Journal. You can read a semi-complete roundup of the laundry list of related media coverage HERE.
In the battle against the NDAA there are three fights, one is the lawyers fight in the courtroom, the other is a battle of public perception to the issue, and the third is a battle in the streets to salvage what little of our democracy is left in hopes that one day we may be able to restore it. We here at Sparrow have been working around-the-clock to get these courageous plaintiffs the press coverage they deserve. We hope that we can create a public outcry so deafening the Supreme Court will be forced to rule in favor of the plaintiffs and favorably on the issue of indefinite detention.
Pentagon papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges, attorney for CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou, Jesslyn Radack, filmmaker Michael Moore, RevolutionTruth Executive Director and NDAA Case Coordinator Tangerine Bolen and journalist Alexa O’Brien, each supporters or plaintiffs in the Hedges v. Obama lawsuit challenging the controversial indefinite detention provision set forth in § 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), will address the U.S. government’s assault on civil liberties under the NDAA in a discussion at 5pm this Wednesday, February 6th at The Culture Project, 45 Bleecker St, NYC.
Seeking to create mainstream dialog about this landmark court battle the NDAA plaintiffs and supporters will present this once-in-a-lifetime panel discussion moderated by Matt Sledge of The Huffington Post and people’s champ Natasha Lennard of Salon.com. Attendees will be offered an up-close look at this transformative year-long court battle and what is driving the Obama administration as they continue to appeal Judge Katherine Forrest’s historic September 15th, 2012 ruling in favor of the plaintiffs.
On Wednesday morning at 10am the plaintiffs are due back in Federal Appeals Court to present oral arguments against the suspension of constitutional protections under the indefinite detention provision. They will be challenged by President Barack Obama’s lawyers who will advocate for the provision, and in a bizarre twist, will also be challenged by Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Kelly Ayotte who collectively have been granted a 5-minute oral argument by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. This panel will serve in-part as a debrief to the media and public of what transpired in the 2nd Circuit earlier that morning.
Themes will include the profound erosion of liberties cemented by the 2012 NDAA, a pattern of abuse and intimidation on the part of the Obama DOJ toward publishers, whistleblowers and activists, and the creative efforts of the widely disparate groups that have joined the lawsuit team and its supporters from around the world.
WHAT: Panel discussion w/ Michael Moore, Chris Hedges, Tangerine Bolen, Daniel Ellsberg, Alexa O’Brien, Jesslyn Raddack, Thomas Drake, Matt Sledge, and Natasha Lennard.
WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 5-7 PM | Event will start at 5:00pm SHARP
MEDIA RSVP: All media who wish to attend please send an RSVP to Andy Stepanian at firstname.lastname@example.org as space will fill up fast. To arrange an interview with any of the panelists please email or text Andy Stepanian at email@example.com or 631.291.3010.
The Culture Project will be opening its doors to journalists and panelists at 3pm for interviews*
SPONSORED BY: RevolutionTruth, Demand Progress, The Sparrow Project, New York Civil Liberties Union Young Professionals, Culture Project’s ‘Blueprint for Accountability’ Series
[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.
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 McCain, Lindsey 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 631.291.3010.