Feds Using NDAA To Silence Journalists Critical Of Government

Feds Using NDAA To Silence Journalists Critical Of Government

Posted by Alexander Higgins - March 29, 2012 at 7:34 pm - Permalink - Source via Alexander Higgins Blog

http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2012/03/29/feds-ndaa-silence-journ...

 

The NDAA is being challenged in a lawsuit by journalists accused of supporting terrorism for reporting facts that challenge the official US government narrative.

Alexander Higgins
March 29th, 2012

A coalition of prominent journalist known for being critical of the United States in the War on Terror have joined forces to file a lawsuit against Barack Obama and Leon Panetta to challenge the National Defense Authorization act.

The NDAA, also known as the Homeland Battlefield Bill, has legalized a wide variety of totalitarian measures against US citizens by declaring the entire world, including the United States, a battleground in the war against terrorism and is a clear and present danger to the US Constitution.

As I reported before the bill was passed into law:

The United States Congress is set to vote on legislation that authorizes the official start of World War 3.

The legislation authorizes the President of the United States to take unilateral military action against all nations, organizations, and persons, both domestically and abroad, who are alleged to be currently or who have in the past supported or engaged in hostilities or who have provided aid in support of hostilities against the United States or any of its coalition allies.

The legislation removes the requirement of congressional approval for the use of military force and instead gives the President totalitarian dictatorial authority to engage in any and all military actions for an indefinite period of time.

It even gives the President the authority to launch attacks against American Citizens inside the United States with no congressional oversight whatsoever.

Just to recap:

  • Endless War – The war will continue until all hostilities are terminated, which will never happen.
  • No Borders – The president will have the full authority to launch military strikes against any country, organization or person, including against U.S citizens on U.S soil.
  • Unilateral Military Action – Full authority to invade any nation at any time with no congressional approval required.
  • No Clearly Defined Enemy – The US can declare or allege anyone a terrorist or allege they are or have been supporting “hostilities” against the US and attack at will.
  • Authorization To Invade Several Countries – The president would have full authority to invade Iran, Syria, North Korea, along with several other nations in Africa and the Middle East and even Russia and China under the legislation all of which are “known” to have supported and aided hostilities against the United States.

[...]

READ FULL ARTICLE

In accordance with the NDAA, we have seen the US government argue that it can now impose military detentionon US citizens.

That means US citizens can be arrested and thrown in jail indefinitely without a right to a trial or even a lawyer.

The US government has also asserted they can ship US citizens they detain to secret overseas prisons where they can be tortured.

The government has even asserted NDAA they are now allowed to preemptively assassinate US citizensthey decide t add to a top-secret kill list with no judicial oversight.

The NDAA authorizes the government to do these things based merely on accusations with no need to provide evidence or even proof of their allegations.

Americans were tricked into supporting the NDAA by being assured the legislation would only be used to fight enemy combatants engaged in terrorism.

The government has quickly used vague language in the bill to broaden definition of terrorism and what constitutes supporting terrorism.

In two cases KNOWN cases against US citizens we have seen the enemy combatant label being charged for simply uploading videos to YouTube.

Another US citizen has been charged as an enemy combatant for providing a link to classified information.

That classified information was publicly available on the whistle blowing website WikiLeaks.

Speaking of WikiLeaks, they are now also accused of supporting Al Qaeda because they leaked evidence of US war crimes overseas.

Even Bradley Manning, who the US alleges gave WikiLeaks the classified files, now also qualifies under the broadened definition of supporting Al Qaeda.

Some law enforcement officials in the US and in the UKare operating under the opinion that the Occupy Wall Street movement is a terrorist organization.

Remember, in each of these cases all that is needed to invoke the NDAA to infinitely detain, torture, or even assassinate any of these US citizens is an assassination.

There is no judge and no jury it’s just straight to execution.

Now journalists critical of US government policies are being accused of providing support for terrorism.

Prominent journalist Chris Hedges learned about being placed on the US terror watch list after he was interrogated by Federal government officials apparently because his reporting of facts that oppose the official scripted narrative that is echoed by the corporate media reports is somehow being interpreted as supporting terrorism.

Can you see where this is heading?

Those who question, dissent or expose the government are being treated as providing support for terrorism even when they have no connections to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organizations.

Furthermore, journalists are being silenced in fear that by reaching by even reporting on certain stories or contacting certain organizations they will become a target of the NDAA.

Chris Hedges how now filed a lawsuit against the government challenging the NDAA.

He is also being joined by a coalition of prominent journalists who have signed on to the lawsuits and issued affidavits in support of his claims.

Included on the lawsuit are Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky among others.

Naomi Wolf has also signed an affidavit in support of the lawsuit detailing how the NDAA is being used to prevent her from reporting on stories critical of the government because such stories can easily be considered as supporting terrorism.

Today they held a press conference in New York about the lawsuit.

 

 

The United States of Torture

 

From Truth Out, Chris Hedges details the incident that sparked the Lawsuit.

Chris Hedges | Totalitarian Systems Always Begin by Rewriting the Law

I spent four hours in a third-floor conference room at 86 Chambers St. in Manhattan on Friday as I underwent a government deposition. Benjamin H. Torrance, an assistant U.S. attorney, carried out the questioning as part of the government’s effort to decide whether it will challenge my standing as a plaintiff in the lawsuit I have brought with others against President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), also known as the Homeland Battlefield Bill.

The NDAA implodes our most cherished constitutional protections. It permits the military to function on U.S. soil as a civilian law enforcement agency. It authorizes the executive branch to order the military to selectively suspend due process and habeas corpus for citizens. The law can be used to detain people deemed threats to national security, including dissidents whose rights were once protected under the First Amendment, and hold them until what is termed “the end of the hostilities.” Even the name itself—the Homeland Battlefield Bill—suggests the totalitarian concept that endless war has to be waged within “the homeland” against internal enemies as well as foreign enemies.

Judge Katherine B. Forrest, in a session starting at 9 a.m. Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, will determine if I have standing and if the case can go forward. The attorneys handling my case, Bruce Afran and Carl Mayer, will ask, if I am granted standing, for a temporary injunction against the Homeland Battlefield Bill. An injunction would, in effect, nullify the law and set into motion a fierce duel between two very unequal adversaries—on the one hand, the U.S. government and, on the other, myself, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, the Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir and three other activists and journalists. All have joined me as plaintiffs and begun to mobilize resistance to the law through groups such as Stop NDAA.

The deposition was, as these things go, conducted civilly. Afran and Mayer, the attorneys bringing the suit on my behalf, were present. I was asked detailed questions by Torrance about my interpretation of Section 1021 and Section 1022 of the NDAA. I was asked about my relationships and contacts with groups on the U.S. State Department terrorism list. I was asked about my specific conflicts with the U.S. government when I was a foreign correspondent, a period in which I reported from El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Middle East, the Balkans and other places. And I was asked how the NDAA law had impeded my work.

It is in conference rooms like this one, where attorneys speak in the arcane and formal language of legal statutes, that we lose or save our civil liberties. The 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act, the employment of the Espionage Act by the Obama White House against six suspected whistle-blowers and leakers, and the Homeland Battlefield Bill have crippled the work of investigative reporters in every major newsroom in the country. Government sources that once provided information to counter official narratives and lies have largely severed contact with the press. They are acutely aware that there is no longer any legal protection for those who dissent or who expose the crimes of state. The NDAA threw in a new and dangerous component that permits the government not only to silence journalists but imprison them and deny them due process because they “substantially supported” terrorist groups or “associated forces.”

Those of us who reach out to groups opposed to the U.S. in order to explain them to the American public will not be differentiated from terrorists under this law. I know how vicious the government can be when it feels challenged by the press. I covered the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua from 1983 to 1988. Press members who reported on the massacres and atrocities committed by the Salvadoran military, as well as atrocities committed by the U.S.-backed Contra forces in Nicaragua, were repeatedly denounced by senior officials in the Reagan administration as fellow travelers and supporters of El Salvador’s Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) rebels or the leftist Sandinista government in Managua, Nicaragua.

The Reagan White House, in one example, set up an internal program to distort information and intimidate and attack those of us in the region who wrote articles that countered the official narrative. The program was called “public diplomacy.” Walter Raymond Jr., a veteran CIA propagandist, ran it. The goal of the program was to manage “perceptions” about the wars in Central America among the public. That management included aggressive efforts to destroy the careers of reporters who were not compliant by branding them as communists or communist sympathizers. If the power to lock us up indefinitely without legal representation had been in the hands of Elliott Abrams or Oliver Northor Raymond, he surely would have used it.

Little has changed. On returning not long after 9/11 from a speaking engagement in Italy I was refused entry into the United States by customs officials at the Newark, N.J., airport. I was escorted to a room filled with foreign nationals. I was told to wait. A supervisor came into the room an hour later. He leaned over the shoulder of the official seated at a computer in front of me. He said to this official: “He is on a watch. Tell him he can go.” When I asked for further information I was told no one was authorized to speak to me. I was handed my passport and told to leave the airport.

Glenn Greenwald, the columnist and constitutional lawyer, has done the most detailed analysis of the NDAA bill. He has pointed out that the crucial phrases are “substantially supported” and “associated forces.” These two phrases, he writes, allow the government to expand the definition of terrorism to include groups that were not involved in the 9/11 attacks and may not have existed when those attacks took place.

It is worth reading Sections 1021 and 1022 of the bill. Section 1021 of the NDAA “includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.” Subsection B defines covered persons like this: “(b) Covered Persons—A covered person under this section is any person as follows: (1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks. (2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the U.S. or its coalition partners.” Section 1022, Subsection C, goes on to declare that covered persons are subject to: “(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.” And Section 1022, Subsection A, Item 4, allows the president to waive the requirement of legal evidence in order to condemn a person as an enemy of the state if that is believed to be in the “national security interests of the United States.”

The law can be used to detain individuals who are not members of terrorist organizations but have provided, in the words of the bill, substantial support even to “associated forces.” But what constitutes substantial? What constitutes support? What are these “associated forces”? What is defined under this law as an act of terror? What are the specific activities of those purportedly “engaged in hostilities against the United States”? None of this is answered. And this is why, especially as acts of civil disobedience proliferate, the NDAA law is so terrifying. It can be used by the military to seize and detain citizens and deny legal recourse to anyone who defies the corporate state.

[...]

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE

From The Guardian, Naomi Wolf explains why she is helping with the Lawsuit.

The reason I’m helping Chris Hedges’ lawsuit against the NDAA

By placing journalists in jeopardy for reporting on ‘terrorists’, the Homeland Battlefield Bill has had a chilling effect on media work.

Naomi Wolf declined a meeting to interview WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, for fear that to do so could be construed as aiding a terrorist under the terms of the NDAA. Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

I have discussed the terms of the Homeland Battlefield Bill – also known as the National Defense Authorization Act – with numerous other journalists, writers, and members of democracy-supporting organizations across the political spectrum, from the Bill of Rights Defense Committee to the Tenth Amendment Center. I have also discussed the bill with various political leaders, including city council members and legislators, who span the political spectrum in the United States. They all agree that the bill can potentially affect an American journalistwho meets with and publishes reports on individuals connected to organizations deemed terrorist by the United States government.

To state the obvious, I do not support terrorism or any terrorist groups. I do not believe acts of violence against civilian populations are an appropriate way to achieve political, or any other change. I have never supported or condoned the actions of any terrorist organization.

I do, however, believe that a properly functioning media should report on newsworthy items, including discussions with and beliefs professed by various groups, including persons whom the United States government has labeled as terrorists. I believe part of my job involves meeting with, discussing ideas with, and publishing stories about persons and groups who have, or are under threat of being, labeled a terrorist or terrorist group.

My understanding of the bill, however, has forced me to decline to meet with certain newsworthy individuals, and groups of people, for fear that my communications with them and publishing articles on these individuals could be considered to be providing material support to a terrorist or terrorist organization. I have forgone meeting with individuals, and reporting on facts and stories, that I otherwise believe are newsworthy, and contribute to a healthy national discourse – for no other reason than to avoid potential repercussions under the bill.

I wish to highlight several instances of my having had to decline to meet with individuals in situations in which, under the normal conditions of my profession, meeting them, and potentially interviewing them, would have led to investigative articles for publication that I believe would have served the public interest.

In November 2011, I declined, in writing, a proposed meeting with Vaughan Smith and Julian Assange, because of statements made by high-level United States officials regarding their belief that Assange is a terrorist, as well as the ongoing Department of Justice investigation, which, as I understand it, could lead to terrorism and/or espionage charges against him. I have declined to meet directly with members of Occupy Wall Street, because that group is being threatened with being named as terrorists in Miami. As a result, I have ceased conducting one-on-one interviews with them.

I have declined, in writing, to follow up with a proposed meeting with a support group in London that serves former prisoners, released without charge by the US government from the US detention center at Guantánamo Bay. Because some of these prisoners were released without government determination of whether they were connected to a terrorist organization, I declined to meet with this group for fear that this story could conceivably be considered some form of support to a group affiliated with terrorists.

I declined, in writing, to give additional media attention to a reporter who produced a documentary based on the bombardment of Gaza, and its effect on the Palestinian civilian population. Since I did not know who else, or which other entities, may have contributed to its production, I was concerned that my shining a media spotlight on the film, and gathering other members of the press to see it, might lead to wider attention and further fundraising that could conceivably fall under the term “material support”.

Thus the Homeland Battlefield Bill has already a chilling effect upon my ability to investigate and document matters of national controversy that would ordinarily be subject to my professional inquiry. It has therefore prevented my readers from receiving the full spectrum of truthful reporting which, in a functioning democracy, they have a right to expect.

• This article is based on an affidavit in support of journalist Chris Hedges’ lawsuit against Barack Obama and Leon Pane.... Other plaintiffs in the case include Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky

 

 

 

This article contains content from The reason I’m helping Chris Hedges’ lawsuit against the NDAA by <Naomi Wold, which was written for The GuardianFriday 17 February 2012 12.59 EST. The content is published here under license between Alexander Higgins and Guardian. The Re-use of this content is permitted providing that you comply with the The Open Platform Terms and Conditions. In short you must register for an Open Platform API key and keep all content, including this notice, unmodified and fully intact.

 

 

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