The National Defense Authorization Act 2012 had been signed into law by President Obama on December 31, 2011 and it included, buried amid the defense appropriations, a section 1021 which authorized the President of the United States to have any American citizen arrested and detained indefinitely, without cause, charges, or trial, and conveyed the same powers – more absolute than those enjoyed by King George III over his royal subjects in 1776 – to any future president.
The immense majority of the current U.S. Congress supported the Tyranny Law – that is how I called it.
NDAA (section 1021) was deemed unconstitutional by a U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan yesterday. The judge said that the Act had a chilling impact on the First Amendment. She cited testimony by journalists that they feared their professional association with certain individuals overseas could result in their arrest because a provision of the law subjects to indefinite detention anyone who “substantially” or “directly” provides “support” to forces such as al-Qaida or the Taliban. She said the wording was too vague and encouraged Congress to change it.
She said the law also gave the government authority to move against individuals who engage in political speech with views that “may be extreme and unpopular as measured against views of an average individual.
“That, however, is precisely what the First Amendment protects,” Forrest wrote.
Attorney Carl Mayer, speaking for plaintiffs at oral arguments earlier this year, had noted that “even President Barack Obama expressed reservations about certain aspects of the bill when he signed it into law.”
Nonetheless, he signed and shame on him for that. However, I do not doubt for a minute that a potential President Romney would have signed it too. I fear that the endless war on terrorism is being used to build a police state here at home.
After the ruling, Mayer called on the Obama administration to drop its decision to enforce the law. He also called on Congress to change it “to make it the law of the land that U.S. citizens are entitled to trial by jury. They are not subject to military detention, policing and tribunals, all the things we fought a revolution to make sure would never happen in this land.”
The government had argued that the law did not change the practices of the United States since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to sue.
This ruling should have made front lines in every newspaper in the nation however I have not seen it in either the New York Times or the Washington Post online versions today. Neither does CNN make any mention of it.
I do hope that the Obama administration does not appeal this decision.