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On December 31, 2011, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA). The National Defense Authorization Act is a bill passed into law each year which allows the government to continue funding national security interests and the military for the next fiscal year.
However, NDAA 2012 was different – it contained a series of striking provisions which appear to violate basic principles of American jurisprudence and the constitution itself.
The most contested section of the bill is Section 1021. Section 1021 defines an individual subject to detention as a person who was a part of, or substantially supported, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces” that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.
Many feel that this vague language leaves journalists, war correspondents, out-spoken activists and serious critics of US government foreign policy in real danger of harm, whilst representing a fundamental loss of constitutionally guaranteed rights. Therefore, a lawsuit was filed by the ‘Freedom Seven’, a group including Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, and Daniel Ellsberg. Last September, a Federal judge, Judge Katherine Forrest, agreed that the plaintiffs did have standing in arguing that Section 1021 is unconstitutional, and ruled for a permanent injunction of the provision.
The Obama administration appealed, and the hearing for both sides was earlier this week. Guy Evans of the Smells Like Human Spirit Podcast was at the courthouse, and in this podcast, he outlines the background to the case, why it is so important, and shares some observations from the day itself. Enjoy!