Late last year, President Obama pulled a fast one by changing his stance on the National Defense Authorization Act so suddenly and drastically that Americans were left with a bad case of legislative whiplash—and a very serious state of affairs with regard to our civil liberties. Obama’s stunning switch underscored how abuses of power on the government’s part must be called out through uncompromising counter-statements from the people and the press. That’s why the choice was eminently clear to make Truthdig columnist, author and activist Chris Hedges our pick for this installment of Truthdigger of the Week.
First, a little background. Citizens and lawmakers from different vantage points along the political spectrum were rightly concerned, particularly about Section 1021 of the NDAA, which allows for the indefinite detention, without trial, of anyone believed to have “substantially supported al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States,” as well as Section 1022, which stipulates that such suspects with terrorist ties can be held in military custody. (Read a useful and thorough explanation of the two controversial passages here.) We certainly were worried, several times over. As Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer put it in his Dec. 15 column about the NDAA, Congress’ support of the bill, as well as Obama’s surprise decision not to veto it, “should be met with public outrage.”
Since then, motions have been made around the country and on Capitol Hill—including a showy bid by Republican presidential contender Ron Paul—to repeal the bill. But it’s hard to think of a gutsier move in the face of this form and degree of injustice than Hedges made on Jan. 13 when, with the help of attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran, he filed a complaint against Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to “challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act.” In case you hadn’t noticed, this means that Hedges is suing the president.
This also means that many readers’ No. 1 pick for months now is finally claiming the Truthdigger title this week. Hedges’ unflagging commitment to defending our endangered freedoms has recently led him to not only take up the cause whenever he takes up his pen, but to speak up at debates and protests, on the television and the radio, and also to show up when it counted most at the White House and on Wall Street. We’ve re-posted his discussion about the lawsuit with Amy Goodman on Tuesday’s “Democracy Now!” below, and we’ve compiled his many words and appearances on his author page here. Bravo, Chris, and thanks.