Obama administration appeals injunction against indefinite military detention
By Stephanie Whiteside / current.com / @stephgwhiteside
The Obama administration this month filed an appeal to preserve the indefinite military defense provision of the National Defense Authorization Act. Although a district judge ruled the provision unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction to prevent it from being enforced in May, the media has remained notably silent on the injunction and efforts to uphold the controversial law.
Controversy swirled around the indefinite military detention provision of the NDAA when the Senate voted on the bill in December. The provision in question allows for indefinite military detention of anyone suspected to be linked to al-Qaida, including American citizens.
After the NDAA passed, however, the bill quietly slipped out of the spotlight. But in January, a group of journalists and activists filed suit against President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, arguing that the indefinite detention provision of the NDAA threatens rights protected by the First Amendment.
In May, District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in favor of the activists and issued a preliminary injunction, preventing the government from enforcing the indefinite detention section of the NDAA.
Forrest's decision relied on the vague wording of the provision, saying that the law should be reconsidered so that an ordinary citizen would be able to understand what constituted association with terrorists.
Journalists, in particular, argued that the law as currently worded could have a dampening effect on free speech and free press, since it is currently unclear if journalists working overseas to cover terrorists or suspected terrorist organizations might be considered in violation of the law.
In August, the Obama administration filed an appeal, arguing that the indefinite detention provision will only apply to domestic and foreign terror threats and that the law is neither too vague nor too broad.
Throughout the process, the mainstream media has remained completely silent on the news. The suit from journalists and activists exposes the ways in which vaguely worded legislation could have devastating affects on civil liberties.
It also raises an incredibly important issue for the upcoming elections — the extent to which both parties are willing to encroach upon privacy and civil liberties under the pretext of defeating terrorism. Yet as Election Day draws closer and voters are seeking information, nothing is said about efforts to back unconstitutional laws and no candidates are questioned on the importance of civil liberties.
Journalist and plaintiff Tangerine Bolen
talks with Cenk about the NDAA.
(Photo: Getty Images)