The White House has filed an appeal in hopes of reversing a federal judge’s ruling that bans the indefinite military detention of Americans because attorneys for the president say they are justified to imprison alleged terrorists without charge.
Manhattan federal court Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in May that the indefinite detention provisions signed into law late last year by US President Barack Obama failed to “pass constitutional muster” and ordered a temporary injunction to keep the military from locking up any person, American or other, over allegations of terrorist ties. On Monday, however, federal prosecutors representing President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta filed a claim with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of eliminating that ban.
The plaintiffs “cannot point to a single example of the military’s detaining anyone for engaging in conduct even remotely similar to the type of expressive activities they allege could lead to detention,” Obama’s attorneys insist. With that, the White House is arguing that as long as the indefinite detention law hasn’t be enforced yet, there is no reason for a judge to invalidate it.
Reuters reports this week that the government believes they are justified to have the authorization to lock alleged belligerents up indefinitely because cases involving militants directly aligned against the good of the US government warrants such punishment. Separate from Judge Forrest’s injunction, nine states have attempted to, at least in part, remove themselves from the indefinite detention provisions of included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or NDAA.
In section 1021 of the NDAA, the president’s authority to hold a terrorism suspect “without trial, until the end of the hostilities” is reaffirmed by Congress. Despite an accompanying signing statement voicing his opposition to that provision, President Obama quietly inked his name to the NDAA on December 31, 2011. In May, however, a group of plaintiffs including notable journalists and civil liberty proponents challenged section 1021 in court, leading to Just Forrest to find it unconstitutional one month later.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA) is making its way through Congress and if it is in any way different from last year’s unconstitutional onslaught against the American public, it is only for the worse.
Last year, Congress overwhelmingly passed and Barack Hussein Obama signed into law the most egregious assault on due process rights in the nation’s history. The NDAA of 2012 gave Obama unlimited authority to have members of the U.S. military detain any American citizen he suspected of posing a potential threat to the United States. According to the Act, such citizens face an indefinite period of imprisonment with no right of habeas corpus, no right to trial, no right to present proof of innocence and no method of appeal.
In his signing statement, Obama made a point of offering false and cynical protestations against this indefinite detention language, claiming his administration “…[would] not authorize without trial the indefinite military detention of American citizens.” (1) Of course those concerns were no more than verbal crocodile tears as Senator Carl Levin later revealed it was Obama himself who demanded the detention powers be part of the Act. (2)
In mid-May, Obama issued an 8 page Statement of Administration Policy expressing his views on the existing, 2013 version of the NDAA. In it, Obama makes no mention whatever of the controversial revocation of due process section. In fact, the closest he comes to speaking of that particular threat to the American public is in a brief, final paragraph entitled “Constitutional Concerns.” And what are the President’s constitutional concerns? Why, Congressional “…encroachment on the President’s exclusive authorities related to international negotiations,” of course!
It seems Obama has decided that the only unacceptable, constitutional abuse of federal power contained in the Act involves an assault on HIS “exclusive authority.” And Obama repeats this concern throughout the Statement, chiding Congress for its obvious lack of respect for what he apparently believes an unlimited power to make treaties, “retire, dismantle or eliminate” the nation’s nuclear and conventional arsenals; indeed for “…the Executive branch’s ability to carry out its military, national security and foreign relations activities…” More than once the petulant President threatens a veto of the Act should Congress not come to its collective senses and allow him full exercise of the dictatorial authority which he apparently believes to have come with the job. (1)
Obama undoubtedly considers such a display of arrogance quite safe even in an election year as the majority of Republicans have shown themselves just as eager to pass this dictatorial authority on to the President in 2013 as they had been a year earlier. Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, GOP Congressman Buck McKeon has even written a new provision into the Act, claiming American citizens would have full availability of a writ of habeas corpus “…in a court ordained or established by or under Article III of the Constitution for any person who is detained in the United States pursuant to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.” (3)
Unfortunately, just like the fraudulent assurances which were made part of the 2012 Act, McKeon’s language “…does nothing to prevent the indefinite detention of American under the 2013 NDAA” itself! Nor does it include any guarantee of habeas corpus rights before military courts or tribunals, the actual venue for federal actions against Obama’s detainees! In short, McKeon’s cynical efforts simply provide meaningless cover for Barack Obama’s future abuses of power, nothing more. (3)
The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.
The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘dirty bomb’ alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.
Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.
The words are included in the department’s 2011 ’Analyst’s Desktop Binder' used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify 'media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities'.
Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit which revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organisations for comments that ‘reflect adversely’ on the government.
However they insisted the practice was aimed not at policing the internet for disparaging remarks about the government and signs of general dissent, but to provide awareness of any potential threats.
As well as terrorism, analysts are instructed to search for evidence of unfolding natural disasters, public health threats and serious crimes such as mall/school shootings, major drug busts, illegal immigrant busts.
The list has been posted online by the Electronic Privacy Information Center - a privacy watchdog group who filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act before suing to obtain the release of the documents.
In a letter to the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counter-terrorism and Intelligence, the centre described the choice of words as ‘broad, vague and ambiguous’.
They point out that it includes ‘vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters.’
A senior Homeland Security official told the Huffington Post that the manual ‘is a starting point, not the endgame’ in maintaining situational awareness of natural and man-made threats and denied that the government was monitoring signs of dissent.
However the agency admitted that the language used was vague and in need of updating.
Spokesman Matthew Chandler told website: ‘To ensure clarity, as part of … routine compliance review, DHS will review the language contained in all materials to clearly and accurately convey the parameters and intention of the program.’
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE: THE LIST OF KEYWORDS IN FULL