Court restores Obama’s indefinite detention power

By Stephen C. Webster
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 14:15 EDT
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Protesters outside of an American embassy in London demonstrate against the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Photo: Pres Panayotov, Shutterstock.com
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A federal appeals court has temporarily frozen a lower court’s order that blocked the Obama administration from arresting and imprisoning American citizens without evidence or trial.

Judge Raymond Lohier, nominated by President Barack Obama to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, issued a stay Tuesday on an earlier ruling by a district court in New York that found the power of indefinite detention to be in violation of the First and Fourth Amendments.

The stay restores the Obama administration’s authority to detain anyone it chooses on allegations that they’re connected to terrorism. A full appeal hearing before the Second Circuit is set for Sept. 28.

Pulitzer-winning journalist Chris Hedges, who writes for The Nation Institute, claims in his lawsuit that the power of indefinite detention stifles his right to free speech by making him fearful that communicating with people on both sides of a military conflict might cause his imprisonment.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest agreed with Hedges, saying in her ruling last week that he provided ample evidence proving his rights are infringed by the mere possibility that the administration make exercise its newfound power.

The provision was embedded in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 by congressional Republicans, who crafted the bill to make it nearly impossible for Obama to shut down the Guantanamo Bay military prison.

In a lengthy signing statement, Obama explained he views the power to be “ill conceived” and “unnecessary,” and vowed to interpret the law in a manner that’s consistent with Constitutional requirements.

Photo: Pres Panayotov, Shutterstock.com.

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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