In Hedges v. Obama, journalists and academics including Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, et al. are battling against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes provisions granting the power to indefinitely detain individuals, including US citizens, suspected of allying with or supporting “terrorists.”
Late last year, Judge Katherine B. Forrest blocked the government from enforcing those particular statutes on grounds that they violate Constitutionally guaranteed rights to due process. In response, the Obama administration immediately appealed Forrest’s ruling, asking for an “immediate stay,” or suspension of the case’s proceedings. When Forrest denied the request, the government went to the Second US Court of Appeals in Manhattan and asked another judge for an emergency stay, which Judge Raymond J. Lohier granted. The latest appeals court extended the stay, undermining Judge Forrest’s ruling that the government should be barred from enforcing the law.
Consider how panicked the government’s response here was. Following Forrest’s decision, they scrambled to get a hold of Lohier at 9:00 AM the following day, and overrule the injunction. Chris Hedges, the lead plaintiff in the case, speculates that this is an indication that the Obama administration is already depriving citizens of due process under the NDAA provisions. The hurried response to Forrest’s decision was done, he says, because the US government might otherwise have been in contempt of court.
Here’s Hedges writing at Truthdig about the stakes of the 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.
The right to due process is one of the most essential devices to check state power, going back to the Magna Carta in 1215. The King of England almost 800 years ago didn’t have the arbitrary power to detain citizens that Obama is trying to claim.
See NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake speak eloquently about the case: