NDAA: National Security or Corporate Domination?
When I learned that the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges filed a law suit against President Obama over a prevision of NDAA, and the Academy Award winning filmmaker Michael Moore was supporting it; I knew I needed to learn more about what was going on.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a United States federal law that is renewed annually by the Congress, to outline the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense. It was instituted after World War II, and has been amended and voted into law annually ever since.
So what is the big hoopla over it this time?
For the first time in its history, 2012 NDAA includes a section titled 1021 which allows Federal government, through military force, to arrest anyone, including American citizens, without a warrant, and hold them indefinitely without charges or due process -habeas corpus.
In an interview with Democracy Now, Hedges said the bill “is a huge and egregious assault against our democracy. It overturns over 200 years of law, which has kept the military out of domestic policing.”
Although the last two administrations claimed that the military has always had the authority to detain US citizens, pointing out to the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed after the 9/11 attacks, critics of the 2012 NDAA say, this time the bill’s language is too broad in fact to even cover journalists.
So who can be detained according to 2012 NDAA?
1- A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks, or harbored those responsible.
2- A person who was a part of or substantially supported Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the U.S. and its coalition partners.
In reaction to the broad language of the law, in January 2012, a coalition of activists, journalists and whistleblowers led by Chris Hedges decided to sue the Obama administration to challenge the legality of the NDAA.
In May 2012, Judge Katherine Forrest- an Obama appointee- ruled it to be unconstitutional and permanently blocked Section 1021 of the NDAA. Obama administration immediately filed an appeal to the 2nd Circuit Court and won a stay-a temporary hold-against Judge Forrest’s injunction.
On Wednesday February 6th 2013, the Court heard the oral arguments in Hedges v. Obama. Justice Department lawyer Robert Loeb along with Senators Ayotte, Graham and McCain, defended the government’s position in an amicus brief and in court. Loeb argued that the reporters like Hedges would not be covered by the law because they were “independent journalists,” but did not specify who will have the authority to make the definition or determination.
After the hearing, plaintiffs hold a press conference in Foley Square. Chris Hedges who infers that the NDAA is directly connected to and as a result of corporate domination of our democracy, said this at the open air conference:
“We have undergone a corporate coup d’état. There is no impediment left now to the corporate power, and the corporate state understands that as the economy continues to deteriorate, as the effects of climate change kicks in, there will be an evitable blow back on a betrayed population, and what’s happening in this court now is the last thin line of defense between protecting what is left of our anemic democracy and the imposition of a military state. Corporate state knows what it’s doing; if the congress had put in one small sentence saying that USA citizens were exempt from this legislation, we would all pack up and go home. But they will not, because as Senator Graham pointed out, it is designed to detain USA citizens. Bottom line is Corporate State wants the ability to call in military.”
Jacob Appelbaum, a USA citizen, also spoke at the conference about being detained number of times by the government, without access to an attorney where he was told that he would never even get an access to a trial. He said “they called me a terrorist, members of USA Army detained me on USA soil.”
There were also congressional efforts to make changes to the 2012 NDAA. In November 2012, a bipartisan group of senators  filed an amendment to end the indefinite military detention of Americans in the US soil. The amendment was stripped by the Congress by December 2012, and replaced with a paragraph  that critics say does nothing to ban indefinite detention within the United States or change anything about the existing law.
Many Americans disregard the danger of indefinite detention powers, arguing they “only apply to terrorists,” but that may not be the case at all times. The bill gives extensive, unrestrained power to the government’s executive branch “to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial,” and designates military as a domestic counterterrorism authority.
Making the connection between NDAA’s warrantless arrest prevision and giving Military the ability to arrest and detain American citizens, and uprisings such as Occupy Movement, is not difficult. Will the Military be used to subdue masses when the people will rise up to the powers that be?
I will end my report with Mr. Hedges’ plea (excerpted from his article titled The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State on Truthdig.org.)
“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.”
1- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
2- “Nothing in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40; 50 U.S.C. 1541) or the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112–81) shall be construed to deny the availability of the writ of habeas corpus or to deny any Constitutional rights in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution to any person inside the United States who would be entitled to the availability of such writ or to such rights in the absence of such laws.”