By Douglas J. Hagmann
Additional research and investigation into the controversial National Defense Authorization Act found something very interesting that is not apparently being reported by the U.S. media. Readers will recall the controversy that surrounded the liberty-threatening NDAA legislation passed with bipartisan support in the House and Senate and signed into law by Barack Hussein Obama last New Year’s Eve.
That law essentially gave the government the right to arrest and detain, without due process, American citizens on significantly vague and broad charges ostensibly related to terrorism. The legislation opened a “Pandora’s box” of unpleasant possibilities that undermine our Constitutional rights and threaten our liberties, unlike any other time in our national history.
Supporters of the NDAA, along with the media, were quick to point to a “signing statement” penned by Obama expressing his concern over the liberty restricting rights of the law, as if that somehow made the language of the new law suddenly conform to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Obviously, it did no such thing, but people were apparently comforted by this eight-page cross-my-heart promise that Obama and his redesigned national security apparatus would never use it for “bad.” Obama said he was uncomfortable with the particular language of section 1021 (and related portions) that called for arrests and indefinite detentions of U.S. citizens under the broad brush of terrorism.
Despite what you’ve been told, it is obvious that Obama and his cohorts are not uncomfortable with those provisions, and are quietly fighting to make sure the controversial provisions remain.
It appears that the fight against tyranny and oppression creates some interesting alliances on both sides. On January 13, 2012, a group of plaintiffs that include socialist and anarchist Noam Chomsky, political activist Daniel Ellsberg, the U.S. Day of Rage, and others filed a suit in the United States District Court in and for the Southern District of New York, challenging the Constitutionality of the controversial sections of the NDAA. They asked the court for “preliminary and permanent injunctive relief with respect to one section, (indeed one page) of that voluminous legislation: Section 1021” (of the NDAA). The case was heard by Manhattan federal court Judge Katherine Forrest.
The defendants of this case were named Barack Obama (individually and as a representative of the United States), Leon Panetta, John McCain, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and Eric Cantor.
Despite any sentiments that might be evoked by the identity, social and political views of the plaintiffs, even the most conservative among us would be hard-pressed to argue with the merits of their lawsuit. The NDAA shreds the Constitution, and these plaintiffs took legal action to stop it. Those are simply the unbiased facts of the matter, all of which are of little interest to the Obama-pandering corporate media. But wait, it gets better.
After an expedited discovery process, an evidentiary hearing was held on March 30, 2012. The federal judge in this matter and all of the plaintiffs showed up in person at that hearing except one, who provided testimony by sworn declaration pursuant to previous authority granted by the court. No one from the government offered any testimony, provided any documentation, or made the slightest noise at the hearing.
I’ll spare any further writings about the legal minutia of the process except to say that the government attempted to argue, in post-hearing memoranda, that section 1021 of the NDAA is an extension of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
On May 16, 2012, federal court Judge Katherine Forrest granted the plaintiff’s motion for relief in a 68-page ruling, meaning a win for the plaintiffs and a legal setback for the U.S. government. She writes that “preliminarily enjoining an act of Congress must be done with caution” and refreshingly adds that “it is the responsibility of our judicial system to protect the public from acts of Congress which infringe upon constitutional rights.”
Recall that Obama stated his opposition to Section 1021 of the NDAA in his signing statement or the very portion of the legislation that was at issue in this legal suit. Why, then, has Obama, through his legal department, filed an appeal with this federal court to overturn the ruling?
It would seem that by enjoining Section 1021 of the NDAA, U.S. citizens’ rights to due process would be protected, which again addresses the exact issue to which Obama dedicated eight-(8) pages of a “signing statement.” Based on the government’s actions, it would appear that Obama and his appointees have no reservations about section 1021 of the NDAA, and that the signing statement is, as former President Richard Nixon might have said, “inoperative.”
Equally disconcerting is that the U.S. media appears to be unwilling to report on this “inoperative” statement or the apparent bi-polar actions of this “administration.” The American people deserve better from our leaders as well as our media. Shame on both.