Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Truthdig columnist, Chis Hedges, along with six other journalists and activists filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) alleging that it violated free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment and due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Last Wednesday they were back in Federal Court in Manhattan for a hearing before three judges:
Attorney Bruce Afran, addressing press and gathered activists in an icy downtown Manhattan plaza Wednesday, said the three-judge panel today challenged the government to prove that the NDAA provision is nothing more than an “affirmation” of the laws regarding indefinite detention already established by Authorization for Use of Military Force. According to the DoJ, the NDAA provision is nothing new, but simply a codification of AUMF. The plaintiffs and their supporters vehemently disagree, as did Judge Forrest last year. Afran stressed again Sunday that 1021(b)(2) “broadens the power of the military” when it comes to the capture and indefinite detention of U.S. citizens and as such “breaches the constitutional barrier between civilians and the military” and constitutes a significant extension of the military state beyond the powers given by AUMF.
Mr. Hedges explains the consequences for the nation and the democratic state should they lose this case:
If we lose in Hedges v. Obama – and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court – electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast. [..]
Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.
But the global corporatists-who have created a new species of totalitarianism-demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed. [..]
After the hearing, Mr Hedges, along with three of his co-plaintiffs, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg; Revolution Truth Executive Director Tangerine Bolen; journalist and U.S Day of Rage founder Alexa O’Brien; and Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal, and their attorneys, Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran, sat down to discuss the state of the lawsuit. The discussion was moderated by Natasha Lennard of Salon and Matt Sledge of The Huffington Post.
In a second panel to “discuss the broader context of the case,” Mr. Hedges, Mr. Ellsberg and Ms. Bolen were joined by film maker and activist Michael Moore, NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for CIA whistle-blower John Kiriakou and a director of the Government Accountability Project.