NDAA Provisions Struck Down in Federal Court
Michelle Obama said she was for once in her adult life proud of her country when support for her husband as President of the United States reached a crescendo. Hope was returning to America. That idea has been significantly called into question over the intervening years. However, what occurred yesterday should make all Americans proud. Our system, seemingly broken in countless ways – still works.
The controversial National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) signed by Barack Obama, whose provisions (SEC. 1031 & 1032) give the National Security Council and the U.S. government the power to detain anyone deemed to be a “terrorist” indefinitely without charge or trial anywhere in the world including U.S. citizens was struck down in federal court on Wednesday by Judge Katherine Forest.
The ruling was due to a lawsuit brought about by titans in the civil rights community. The plaintiffs in the case include scholars, journalists and activists namely Noam Chomskey, Daniel Elseberg, Chris Hedges, Naomi Wolf, and Cornel West.
NDAA was borne out of bipartisan effort with rabid support from Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT). Sen. Graham is probably the most vociferous proponent literally screaming at his colleagues in the senate, “When [terrorists] ask for their lawyer, you tell them ‘shut up’!”
Here Sen. Graham reiterates that National Security interests supersede those rights and liberties ensconced in the bill of rights and Constitution he is sworn to protect. “You are not to be given a lawyer if our national security interests [a.k.a. National Security Council an unelected body] dictate you are not to be given a lawyer.”
Judge Kathrine Forest of the southern district of New York evidently disagrees with the senator. She struck down provisions 1031 & 1032 precisely because she feels they infringe on 1st and 5th Amendment rights. Those Amendments guarantee freedom of speech and due process. Why the law wasn’t also struck down on 6th Amendemnt grounds, right to speedy trial and concepts of habeaus corpus, is unclear.
Sen. Lindsey Graham may see the entire world as a battlefield, including the internet, but his legislation puts in jepordy nearly 800 years of common law respecting the individual rights against aggressive encroachment by the state, whatever the excuse. The Magna Carta from which our Constitution and bill of rights owes so much, signed in 1215, says as much:
In clause 39 of the Magna Carta, John of England promised as follows:
“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”