After a court hearing over the 2012 NDAA in Manhattan on Wednesday, Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges appeared on a panel of activists who are suing the Obama administration over its attempt to claim the right to indefinitely hold U.S. citizens in military detention.
The group convened to discuss the state of the lawsuit. Joining Hedges were these co-plaintiffs: Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg; Revolution Truth Executive Director Tangerine Bolen; journalist and U.S Day of Rage founder Alexa O’Brien; and Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal. They were joined by legal counsel Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran.
For a second panel on the “broader context of the case,” Hedges, Ellsberg and Bolen remained and were joined by filmmaker Michael Moore, NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for CIA whistle-blower John Kiriakou and a director of the Government Accountability Project.
Natasha Lennard of Salon.com and Matt Sledge of The Huffington Post moderated the discussion, which was organized by StopNDAA.
Said Carl Mayer: “In broad terms, the stakes I think are very high, because what our case comes down to is, are we going to have a civil justice system in the United States, or a military justice system? The civil justice system is something that’s ingrained in the Constitution and was always very important in combating tyranny and building a democratic society. And what the NDAA is trying to impose is a system of military justice that allows the military to police the streets of America, to detain U.S. citizens, to detain residents in the United States, in military prisons. And I say that probably the most frightening aspect of the NDAA is that it allows for detention, quote, ‘until the end of hostilities.’ We’re now, by my count, at day 4,163 of this war, which is an open-ended war against al-Qaida, the Taliban, and now it’s defined as ‘associated forces’ in the NDAA.”
Said Chris Hedges: “The drone wars … the NDAA … the FISA Amendment Act … what they’re attempting to do is legally justify what they’re already doing. They have argued that under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force they have the right to assassinate American citizens. I have read that act innumerable times … and none of us find that in the act. That is, to be generous, a radical interpretation of the AUMF. And so what they’re seeking to do is legally justify, in the same way that [Bush assistant attorney general John] Yoo was attempting to legally justify torture, they’re essentially looking for kind of legal cover. … It’s all a part of this very rapid descent into a frightening form of corporate totalitarianism.”