Hedges: NDAA is ‘chilling’ the practice of journalism

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, April 3, 2012 9:01 EDT
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Pulitzer-winning journalist Chris Hedges, speaking to Russia Today's The Alyona Show. Screenshot via YouTube.
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Speaking about his lawsuit against the U.S. government over its claim that it may indefinitely imprison anyone it believes to be involved in terrorism, journalist Chris Hedges warned that the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is already having a “chilling” effect on the serious practice of journalism.

That’s because under the NDAA, anyone connected to al Qaeda or “associated forces” can be captured and spirited away without charge or trial — which Hedges said poses a problem for conflict zone journalists in the event that they attempt to do their job and communicate with individuals on both sides of the fighting.

“What’s an associated force?” he rhetorically asked. “It could be any organization on [America's terrorism] list, or lots of other organizations that aren’t on the list that are considered associated forces. This is the problem. I spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent, and when we went through that list, there were 17 groups, including al Qaeda, that I have had, as a reporter, direct contact with. There is no provision in there to protect journalists at all, or anyone. Anybody can be swept up under this. You don’t want to hand these kinds of powers to the state, because history has shown that, eventually, they will use it.”

Hedges added that there’s already been efforts to link the “Occupy” movement to jihadist groups and al Qaeda — an attempt he said was revealed by emails stolen from Strategic Forecasting, an Austin-based private intelligence firm that was hacked by members of “Anonymous” last year.

“We’ve already seen from the Stratfor email releases, they’ve already [connected Occupy with terrorists],” he said. “Alexa O’Brien, who is one of the plaintiffs, lost her job because after these kind of accusations, U.S. government officials went to her employer and made investigations or queries about her. She was pulled off projects and eventually pushed out of her work. That is an example of the kind of world we are entering if we are not able to strike back against this legislation.”

This video was broadcast by Russia Today on Monday, April 2, 2012.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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