Earlier this week, a federal judge blocked a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act which had provided for the possibility of indefinite detention of anyone, including American citizens, charged with providing “substantial support” for terrorist organizations.
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges, who was one of the plaintiffs in the case, told Russia Today that the impact of the decision was “huge.”
“It invalidates a law,” he explained, “that was, of course, signed by the president on New Year’s Eve and permitted the U.S. military — overturning about 200 years of domestic law — to engage in domestic policing, to seize U.S. citizens, to hold them in military facilities, including our offshore penal colonies, to strip them of due process, and to detain them … until the end of hostilities, whenever that is.”
Hedges emphasized that a major factor in the judge’s decision was that the government lawyers were unable to say for certain that he and the other reporters and activists who brought the suit would never be subject to the provisions of the law as enacted.
“We went through the State Department terrorism list,” he stated, “and in the course of my twenty years as a foreign correspondent, most of them with The New York Times, I had direct contact with seventeen of those groups, including al Qaeda. And there’s no exemption in this provision for journalists.”
He also noted that his fellow plaintiffs were particularly concerned that “by linking legitimate dissent to terrorist organizations, the military could be used to crush any kind of protest.” Alexa O’Brien, a co-founder of U.S. Days of Rage, had entered into evidence emails released by WikiLeaks in which the private security firm Stratfor had discussed attempting to link Days of Rage to al Qaeda.
Hedges concluded by pointing out that the provision had passed Congress by an overwhelming majority and that even now the major news media have scarcely mentioned the judge’s ruling overturning it. “It’s just remarkable to me,” he stated, “how if it is accepted by the Democrats and accepted by the Republicans, it’s sort of a non-issue.”
This video was uploaded to YouTube by The AlyonaShow on May 18, 2012.