UPDATE: Less Than Twenty-Four Hours Later, As Expected, Obama Justice Department Files Appeal To Federal Judge’s Ruling.
“The government has reached the boundaries yet refuses to let those boundaries, such as rights laid out in the Constitution, constrain it. It seeks to make innovations of law that will match the totalitarian state which has been under construction for the past decade.”
“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.”
A federal judge issued a ruling on September 12 that permanently enjoined a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was signed by President Barack Obama codifying indefinite military detention into United State law last year. She found that the writers, journalists and activists who were plaintiffs in the lawsuit had demonstrated actual and reasonably that their First Amendment-protected activities could subject them to indefinite military detention and ruled the public had a greater interest in preserving the First Amendment and due process rights than allowing law enforcement to have this tool.
Judge Katherine B. Forrest, a judge appointed by Obama, had already issued a temporary injunction against Section 1021 of the NDAA. That section authorized the President to “use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), including “the authority of the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons.” The section said a “covered person” was “a person who was 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, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.”
Persons detained could be held without trial “under the law of war” until the “end of hostilities authorized by the AUMF.”
Journalist Chris Hedges, Occupy London co-founder Kai Wargalla, WL Central writer and US Day of Rage founder Alexa O’Brien, and Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jonsdottir demonstrated in court during the trial that they were able to prove the provision could result in an “imminent and particularized, invasion of legally-protected interests.” In her 112-page ruling, the judge wrote, “Hedges, O’Brien, Wargalla, and Jonsdottir all testified to facts showing a chilling of their written, oral or associational activities. That is actual injury.” (For more specific details on the plaintiffs’ back stories, go here.)
Forrest concluded the plaintiffs had demonstrated monetary damages would not “redress the injury” and “considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiffs and government, injunctive relief” was warranted and “the public interest would not be disserved by the issuance of an injunction.” She also found the government had been “unable to provide this Court with any assurance” that these writers, journalists or activists’ activities would not subject them to military detention, as laid out in section 1021.
What she stated was remarkable: Hedges, Wargalla, O’Brien and Jonsdottir had “already been harmed” and would continue to be harmed if this section of the NDAA was enforced.
The judge did not stop there. Her permanent injunction systematically deconstructed the provision picking up on the core of the argument against the government in the case—that “substantially supported,” “directly supported,” and “associated forces” were vague or lacked specificity. She determined these terms did not appear in any prior case law and that “the respective meanings of the terms at issue” are unknown but “the penalty of running afoul of it is severe.”
She also stated:
“…A key question throughout these proceedings has been, however, precisely what the statute means–what and whose activities it is meant to cover. That is no small question bandied about amongst lawyers and a judge steeped in arcane questions of constitutional law; it is a question of defining an individual’s core liberties. The due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment require that an individual understand what conduct might subject him or her to criminal or civil penalties. Here, the stakes get no higher: indefinite military detention–potential detention during a war on terrorism that is not expected to end in the foreseeable future, if ever. The Constitution requires specificity–and that specificity is absent from § 1021(b)(2)…”
This is profound. Since the September 11th attacks government has sought to claim powers that infringe upon liberties and do so without explanation on the mere basis that if government did explain what was being done they might reveal methods or techniques being used to defeat alleged terrorists.
Judges have given great deference to the Executive Branch and allowed it to invoke the state secrets privilege to avoid accountability and justice for any crimes committed in the “war on terrorism.” But here, a federal judge is preemptively blocking a national security law before the government really has any opportunity to employ it on the basis that the government drew it up poorly and failed to properly define what could lead someone to be subject to indefinite military detention.
Moreover, the judge is insinuating and suggesting throughout that the government would be able to use this power of preventive detention in an Orwellian manner and so she must intervene.
Forrest added it was impossible to understand the “scope” of this provision without key terms being defined. The government was unable or unwilling to provide definitions.
The government expended little energy or resources in trying to provide the court with definitions.
They did not take the vagueness seriously at all or think the judge would care that they had no interest in defining these terms, which were primarily responsible for the plaintiffs bringing a lawsuit against the government. She determined the “statute’s vagueness” fell short of “what due process requires.”
She eloquently outlined how this provision violated Americans’ right to due process:
“…Constitutional guarantees require that criminal statutes carry an array of due process protections. If it did not, then § 1021 must be interpreted as follows: Congress has declared that the U.S. is involved in a war on terror that reaches into territorial boundaries of the United States. The President is authorized to use all necessary force against anyone he deems involved in activities supporting enemy combatants, and therefore criminal laws and due process are suspended for any acts falling within the broad purview of what might constitute “substantially” or “directly supporting” terrorist organizations. If this is what Congress in fact intended by § 1021(b)(2), no doubt it goes too far. Although § 1021(b)(2) does not, strictly speaking, suspend the writ of habeas corpus, it eliminates all other constitutionally-required due process (indeed, leaving only the writ)…”
Essentially, the judge found it had hollowed out an American’s right to due process. That alone is extraordinary, and even more extraordinary is the fact that a federal judge read into this law, made such an astute conclusion, and accepted the government might violate the due process of citizens if allowed to use this provision.
She also concluded the provision the government was defending in court could be used to target First Amendment activities. The government had not agreed or anywhere argued that activities protected by the First Amendment could not subject a person to indefinite military detention. They apparently wanted to keep options open in case they wanted to imprison someone in the future and all they had to support detention was speech. Forrest noted:
“The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides for greater protection: it prohibits Congress from passing any law abridging speech and associational rights. To the extent that § 1021(b)(2) purports to encompass protected First Amendment activities, it is unconstitutionally overbroad.”
The government had claimed throughout that the section of the NDAA was an “affirmation” of the AUMF, a position entirely illogical and not accepted by the judge. To this the judge stated in her ruling it had a “broader scope” and “directly” referred to the law of war.
No evidence had been put forth by the government indicating it needed the provision for “law enforcement efforts.” It had put itself in a tenuous position by claiming the NDAA provision simply “reaffirmed” the AUMF, because if that was so, then why was it necessary for the provision to be part of law?
“The Government already has ample authorization to pursue those actually involved in the attacks on September 11, 2001, and it has a host of criminal statutes…that it can use to prosecute those who engage in a variety of activities that endanger lives or constitute terrorism. According to the Government, § 1021 is merely a reaffirmation of the AUMF–a position with which the Court disagrees. If, however, the Government is taken at its word, then enjoining its ability to enforce § 1021(b)(2) removes no tools from the Government’s arsenal.”
The government did not present evidence that there was a practical purpose to having the power to subject US citizens to indefinite military detention.
The writers, journalists and activists had, however, shown how the law would impact their First Amendment and due process rights. Therefore the judge was obligated to permanently enjoin the law and urge Congress to fix the statute or examine whether this provision was ever needed at all.
She stated, “Military detention based on allegations of ‘substantially supporting” or ‘directly supporting’ the Taliban, al-Qaeda or associated forces is not encompassed within the AUMF and is enjoined by this Order,” and “no detention” under the provision would be permitted.
In conclusion, this decision makes clear the preventive detention codified into law was purely an expansion of unchecked and authoritarian executive power. It demonstrates how the country is in a new phase of the “war on terrorism,” a dangerous phase that requires vigilance by citizens, like the filing of preemptive lawsuits, in order to stop the government from manufacturing new laws that further redefine civil liberties and universal rights that are granted to all Americans by the Constitution.
The government has reached the boundaries yet refuses to let those boundaries, such as rights laid out in the Constitution, constrain it. It seeks to make innovations of law that will match the totalitarian state which has been under construction for the past decade.
The law is behind and in order to not have to wholly disregard it, lawyers have to redefine accepted concepts of law like due process in order to—as the Obama 2012 presidential campaign might say—move forward. (America is already redefining due process through a kill list that gives the president the power to extra judicially assassinate any “terror suspects” abroad, whether they be US citizens or not.)
Writers, journalists, activists and other citizens must anticipate that they might be warrantlessly wiretapped because it is now legal, and in order to stop government, they must force government to define what gives it the power to violate someone’s privacy.
They must anticipate what might lead the government to add them to a “No-Fly” list, because the government will not make public the criteria. They must file challenges in court to the addition of people to “kill lists” when they have reason to believe they have been added or when they believe they themselves could be added.
This is because the national security state has no opposition from either major political party in the United States, the Congress no longer functions as a check on the Executive Branch, and the press yawns or gives government the benefit of the doubt each time it decides to expand the scope of its power to control people and undermine liberty.
A tremendous victory was won but Obama’s Justice Department will appeal the permanent injunction. They’ll defend their right to pass and implement Kafkaesque expansions of executive power. The lawsuit will likely be heard by a judge who is much more deferential to power than Forrest because most judges, unlike Forrest, have abdicated their duty to question and properly challenge how the government employs its national security policies. Nonetheless, it cannot be overstated: the plaintiffs in this case won when few thought they had any chance of winning and that proves that sometimes the most effective acts of resistance are acts that people engage in because they understand they have a moral obligation to take a stand regardless of how the system might be stacked against them.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), enacted by Congress after the abuses of the 1960s and 70s, regulates the government’s conduct of intelligence surveillance inside the United States. It generally requires the government to seek warrants before monitoring Americans’ communications.
In 2001, however, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to launch a warrantless wiretapping program, and in 2008 Congress ratified and expanded that program, giving the NSA almost unchecked power to monitor Americans’ international phone calls and emails.
WASHINGTON (JTA) – Two US Congressmen Have Introduced Legislation Aimed At Pressuring Any Country Harboring Nazi War Criminals.
Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) proposed legislation in the House of Representatives on Wednesday that would prohibit defense sales to any country offering safe harbor to Nazis or any modern-day war criminals.
“We must let the world know that we will do everything in our power to pursue justice against the monstrous acts perpetrated by Nazi criminals and modern-day war criminals,” Israel said in a statement to JTA.
Under the War Crimes Accountability Act of 2012, it would be illegal to conduct defense sales with any country that refuses to deport, prosecute or enforce an arrest warrant against such criminals.
The bill “puts pressure on countries that harbor these criminals and ensures that they will pay a price for housing these murderers,” Israel said.
Berman said, “I hope that this bill will make countries think twice before giving refuge to war criminals.”
A spokesman from Israel’s office said the legislation is not aimed at any specific country.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, known for tracking down Nazi war criminals and working to bring them to justice, has cited what it says is a lack of political will in many countries as a major obstacle to the prosecution of former Nazis.
Oil contracts 'gone missing' from consulate in Benghazi --America 'was warned of embassy attack but did nothing' 14 Sep 2012 The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.
American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.
Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the "safe house" in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack... Some of the missing papers from the consulate are said to list names of Libyans who are working with Americans, putting them potentially at risk from extremist groups, while some of the other documents are said to relate to oil contracts.
[Try as I might, I can no longer remain silent on this one -- so Facebook, do your thing. 'Protesters' did not assassinate Ambassador Stevens and 3 Navy Seals (working for mercenaries at the time). This was a likely a(nother) CIA-sanctioned operation, executed so that USociopaths can control Libya's new regime to ensure that corpora-terrorists get Libya's oil and water. --LRP]
American Killed in Libya Was on Intel Mission to Track Weapons 13 Sep 2012 One of the Americans killed alongside Ambassador Christopher Stevens in an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya Tuesday told ABC News before his death that he was working with the State Department on an intelligence mission to round up dangerous weapons in the war-torn nation. In an interview with ABC News last month, Glen Doherty, a 42-year-old former Navy SEAL who worked as a contractor with the State Department, said he personally went into the field to track down so-called MANPADS, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and destroy them.
The US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three US diplomats were killed in attacks and rioting provoked by an obscure, low-budget anti-Muslim film called “The Innocence of Muslims.” The producer of the film is a real estate developer supposedly named “Sam Bacile” who claims to be an Israeli Jew. Bacile told the AP the film was made with $5 million raised from “100 Jewish donors.” He said he was motivated to help his native country, Israel, by exposing the evils of Islam.
While Bacile claims to be in hiding, and his identity remains murky, another character who has been publicly listed as a consultant on the film is a known anti-Muslim activist with ties to the extreme Christian right and the militia movement. He is Steve Klein, a Hemet, California based insurance salesman who claims to have led a “hunter-killer team” in Vietnam.”
Klein is a right-wing extremist who emerged from the same axis of Islamophobia that produced Anders Behring Breivik and which takes inspiration from the writings of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, and Daniel Pipes.
It appears Klein (or someone who shares his name and views) is an enthusiastic commenter on Geller’s website, Atlas Shrugged, where he recently complained about Mitt Romney’s “support for a Muslim state in Israel’s Heartland.”
In July 2011, Spencer’s website, Jihad Watch, promoted a rally Klein organized alongside the anti-Muslim Coptic extremist Joseph Nasrallah to demand the firing of LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, whom they painted as a dupe for Hamas.
Klein is also closely affiliated with the Christian right in California, organizing resentment against all the usual targets — Muslims, homosexuals, feminists, and even Mormons.
He is a board member and founder of a group called Courageous Christians United, which promotes anti-Mormon, anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim literature (including the work of Robert Spencer) on its website. In 2002, Klein ran for the California Insurance Commissioner under the American Independent Party, an extremist fringe party linked to the militia movement, garnering a piddling 2 percent of the vote.
Klein has been closely affiliated with the Church at Kaweah, an extreme evangelical church located 70 miles southeast of Fresno that serves as a nexus of neo-Confederate, Christian Reconstructionist, and militia movement elements. The Southern Poverty Law Center produced a report on Kaweah this spring that noted Klein’s long record of activist against Muslims:
Over the past year, Johnson and the church militia have developed a relationship with Steve Klein, a longtime religious-right activist who brags about having led a “hunter killer” team as a Marine in Vietnam. Klein, who calls Islam a “penis-driven religion” and thinks Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca is a Muslim Brotherhood patsy, is allied with Christian activist groups across California. In 2011, as head of the Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, he worked with the Vista, Calif.-based Christian Anti-Defamation Commission on a campaign to “arm” students with the “truth about Islam and Muhammad” — mainly by leafleting high schools with literature depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a sex-crazed pedophile.
Klein, based in Hemet, Calif., has been active in extremist movements for decades. In 1977, he founded Courageous Christians United, which now conducts “respectful confrontations” outside of abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques. Klein also has ties to the Minuteman movement. In 2007, he sued the city of San Clemente for ordering him to stop leafleting cars with pamphlets opposing illegal immigration.
Like many other activists who fashion themselves as “counter-Jihadists,” Klein has organized against the construction of mosques in his area. While leafleting against a planned mosque in Temecula, California, which he claimed would herald the introduction of Shariah law to the quiet suburb, Klein remarked, “It all comes down to the first amendment. I don’t care if you disagree with me. Just don’t cut off my head.”
Klein appears to be allied with the National American Coptic Assembly, a radical Islamophobic group headed by Morris Sadik.
Sadik claims to have discovered the film and began promoting it online. Once it went viral, the trailer was translated into Arabic, sparking outrage in the Middle East, and ultimately, to the deadly attacks carried out by Muslim extremists today.
Klein claims credit for inspiring “Sam Bacile” to produce “The Innocence of Muslims,” promising him he would be “the next Theo Van Gogh,” referring to the Dutch columnist who was murdered by a Muslim extremist.
Of the attacks in Libya, Klein said, “We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen.”
6 Right-Wing Zealots (or Groups of Zealots) That Would Blow Up the World for Political Gain…Toxic right-wingers and their fanatical followers are desperate to ignite a "clash of civilizations."
Obama's not engaged! He's an appeaser! He's harder on Republicans than he is on terrorists? WHY AREN'T WE BOMBING ANYONE?!?!?!
EXTREMISM BEGETS EXTREMISM
One of the more disturbing symptoms of Mitt Romney’s evolution from a supposed moderate whose “views are progressive” to a “severely conservative” presidential candidate has been his close alliance with such right-wing extremists as Tony Perkins.
Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council, which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its incendiary, inaccurate attacks against gays and lesbians. Perkins has a long and disturbing record of racism and homophobia; among other lowlights, he has paid $82,500 for a mailing list from former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, delivered multiple speeches to the outrageously racist Council of Conservative Citizens, praised a Ugandan law that would make “aggravated homosexuality” a crime punishable by death, and argued that the Senate would have “blood on their hands” for voting to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy against homosexual soldiers and sailors.
Perkins is also a close adviser to Romney. As he told reporters ahead of the Family Research Council’s annual Value Voter Summit, he regularly consults with Romney’s campaign on “issues of faith,” such as the campaign’s recently adopted position that promoting heterosexual marriage will fix the economy.
“Republicans are not going to connect with voters just based on the mechanics of how to get the economy moving,” Perkins said.
According to Perkins, “I talked to Mitt Romney after he selected Paul Ryan.” He added that he was “somewhat surprised that [Romney] chose Paul Ryan because that was a pretty bold choice, in my view.” Perkins clearly approves of the pick; despite the fact that Ryan’s intellectual hero was a devoted atheist, Ryan will address the Value Voter Summit this week.
As essential facts emerge concerning the September 11 incident in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other American embassy staffers, it becomes increasingly obvious that Mitt Romney should have kept his noxious, uninformed, and opportunistic remarks to himself. But Romney’s comments criticizing US diplomatic personnel in the wake of that tragedy have proved him unfit for leadership, even without the damning information that has made him look foolish as well.
There was something truly vile in his statement accusing American diplomats of “sympathizing” with the extremists assaulting their embassy, when they were simply trying to defuse the Muslim anger that posed a grave threat to them and their colleagues. It was all too easy for the Republican candidate to pontificate from a safe podium while American diplomats risk their lives, as they do every day. (And to anyone aware that Romney avoided Vietnam-era military service through a Mormon missionary posting in France, his nonchalant slurring of courageous public servants was especially unbecoming.)
Romney’s smug criticism provoked instantaneous revulsion among former diplomats and foreign policy experts of both parties, mystified and appalled that he would hold the lives of those who serve so cheaply. Visiting an embassy in a dangerous place in the Mideast, East Africa, or South Asia, where the president’s portrait hangs on the wall, it is obvious that the people who work in those places depend heavily on the moral support of their nation’s leaders.
Meanwhile, reporting about the bizarre movie trailer that sparked violence across the Mideast could scarcely be more embarrassing to Romney and his amateurish advisers. Evidently the producers of this thing are a gang of fraudsters and extremists, who misrepresented their project and sought to falsely implicate both Israel and the American Jewish community in America in their inflammatory project. Before Romney decided to line up beside these nutcases, he might have wanted to know that at least several are associated with anti-Mormon as well as anti-Muslim agitation, as journalist Max Blumenthal explains here….
AMES, Iowa (AP) — A Republican appointed to the Electoral College, Melinda Wadsley was expected to cast her vote for Mitt Romney if he won the state of Iowa in the presidential election.
Wadsley decided Thursday she couldn’t in good conscience vote for Romney — she had backed Ron Paul during the GOP primary — and resigned to allow the Iowa GOP to choose someone else for that duty.
“I have always been a straight-ticket Republican, and for the first time in my life I am an undecided voter, therefore, I need to resign my position as a Republican presidential elector,” Wadsley said in an email exchange with The Associated Press.
Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker said in a statement Thursday that the state party’s central committee would begin the process of selecting a replacement, essentially allowing the party to confirm a die-hard Romney supporter.
A mother of three in Ames, Wadsley was one of three electors featured in an AP story published early Thursday that noted some GOP electors were unsure they would vote for Romney if he won their states on Nov. 6. They had expressed frustration at how Republican leaders have worked to suppress Paul’s conservative movement and his legion of loyal supporters.
“They’ve never given Ron Paul a fair shot, and I’m disgusted with that,” Wadsley told the AP for the story that preceded her resignation. “I’d like to show them how disgusted I am.”
Each party chooses people to serve as electors in the 50 states. In December, electors convene in each state capital to officially select the president and vice president.
Occasionally a so-called faithless elector decides not to vote or to vote for someone other than the winner. The defection of multiple electors would be unprecedented in modern American politics.
Earlier this week, conservative news clown Laura Ingraham said, “If you can’t beat Obama with this record, then shut down the party.”
Defeating President Obama has been the one true goal of the Republican Party for nearly four years, and now many on the right wing feel their prize slipping away. The idea that this president would be easy to beat is never something top Republicans bought into. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee – all whom could have likely beaten Mitt Romney in a primary – declined to run. And Karl Rove has been raising untold amounts of money in hopes preventing Obama’s reelection – knowing intimately the advantages inherent in being a likable incumbent.
However there is a delusion that since Fox News has called President Obama a failure since the day he took office, eventually everyone would buy it. In November 2010, when the economy was much worse of than today, millions of Americans did and millions more stayed home.
Republicans like to tell themselves that this election is like 1980 when Ronald Reagan came back after the debates to defeat President Jimmy Carter. What they miss is that Reagan led in that election all summer after Carter’s bruising primary win over Ted Kennedy. Mitt Romney has never led in this race.
Here five reason that -- barring something drastic -- Mitt Romney will lose.