If you haven't seen Naomi Wolf's Facebook page
today, you need to do so and read her March 30th reports from the hearings for the lawsuit filed by Chris Hedges and others regarding the NDAA.
just en route but I wanted to tell you the very bad news that Obama's lawyers yesterday multiple times refused to assure Judge Forrest, who kept in multiple ways giving them the chance to do so, that the NDAA could not be used to sweep up journalists doing journalism and peaceful protesters engaged in peaceful protest. She was incredibly impressive, it was incredibly terrifying, I will post my notes later today from the hearing, and it was just as terrifying to me that apart from me and I am a proposed plaintiff, the only journalists I could see in the room were the Guardian's and Courthouse News Service's -- during a hearing in which the GOVERNMENT IS RESERVING THE RIGHT TO DETAIN JOURNALISTS FOREVER WITHOUT CHARGE OR TRIAL FOR ENGAGING IN JOURNALISM. The transcript will be available in a couple of days and you can see this for yourself. Hello New York Times? Hello Washington Post? Hello USA Today? Hellow [sic] Wall Street Journal?And from her more detailed update:
“Government lawyers in New York court tell Judge they can’t directly rule out detaining Chris Hedges for reporting, Occupy London for protesting, or the author of a hypothetical book on politics for expressing an opinion, under NDAA sections 1021 and 1022.”By the way, Judge Forrest was appointed by Barack Obama so we're not talking about some Republican tool of a judge asking these questions just to make President Obama look bad.
What follows are my verbatim notes from the hearing for the lawsuit by Chris Hedges and other plaintiffs against Barack Obama and other defendants, regarding the NDAA. The hearing took place all day in Judge Forrest’s courtroom in the Southern District of New York City, yesterday, Mar 29. The purpose of the hearing was to establish ‘standing’ – are the plaintiffs legally entitled to sue? Harm: have they experienced negative outcomes, or ‘chill’ of their speech, because of the NDAA? And ‘redressability’: is the plaintiff’s fear of detention reasonable? The plaintiffs include Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Chris Hedges, Occupy London co-founder Kai Wargallah, journalist Katherine O’Brien, Daniell Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Birgit Jonsdottir, an Icelandic parliamentarian who supported Wikileaks’ right to publish. Dr Cornel West and I are also seeking to join the plaintiffs.
(While the notes are as accurate as I could make them, there are elisions due to the volume of the proceedings; these are noted by lines of asterisks. The court transcript will be available shortly.)
The headlines? Lawyers for the US government, given several chances by Judge Forrest to do so, would not rule out detaining Chris Hedges under the NDAA for reporting,; they would not rule out defining a political book as providing ‘material support’ for terrorists. The Government, given multiple chances by Judge Forrest to do so, also would not or could not give any direct definition of who is included in the phrase ‘associated forces’, or what any example of what it means to ‘provide material support.” And the government did not dispute the validity of a DHS memo that tried to target Occupy Wall St as cyberterrorists.
Some key moments:
Journalist Katherine O’Brien had detailed how Stratfor, a private security firm with links to the US government, and a Federal agent had all sought to intimidate her. The government lawyer was making the case that she could not know that the US government had directed those actions. One security firm manager, she said, had surveilled her organization.
The government attorney asked her if she knew that the government had been behind those actions.
“None. Those things are done in secret.”
At another point she detailed more private security firm surveillance from a second firm.
Government lawyer: “Do you know the government directed him that action?”
O’Brien: “Yes. He went to the NYPD. “
Government attorney: “Strike response as unresponsive.”
O’Brien produced into evidence a DHS memo that sought to link Occupy Wall Street to their cyberterrorism initiative. The government lawyer was given a chance by Judge Forrest to dispute the memo as fraudulent and did not do so.
Kai Wargallah, co-founder of Occupy London, submitted into evidence a memo from the City of London Police Department that categorized Occupy London as a terrorist organization.
Obama lawyer: “What evidence do you have that the government has harmed you?”
Wargallah: “Other than putting my organization on a list of terrorist groups, none.”
Chris Hedges testified: “It is my belief that if Reagan officials had had the power of the NDAA to detain journalists covering conflicts in Nicaragua and El Salvador, they would have used it. “ Government lawyers made the case that nothing has changed since the FISA law allowed electronic surveillance, and the NDAA. Hedges said that “Every investigative reporter will tell you that sources have critically dried up since six were charged under the Espionage Act.” Hedges noted that the difference between FISA and the NDAA was “a quantum deterioration in free speech.” He also said: “NSA surveillance has far more effect on my sources than on me,” he said, but “the NDAA is about me.”
Hedges testified that he believed that his phone was being tapped because in El Salvador and now, it would hang up after one ring, which he had been told was the cue for the start of surveillance recording. Asked if he knew his phone had been tapped in El Salvador, he said, “Yes. Because sometimes there would be an open line and I would hear: “Ministerio de Defenso.” Asked by his attorney if he knew what “associated forces’ meant, he said, “I don’t think we know what ‘associated forces’ are. That’s the reason I’m here.”
Obama’s lawyer asked Hedges if he had ever to his knowledge been identified as a terrorist by the US government. Hedges answered “No.”
In the redirect, Hedges’ lawyer reminded him that he had testified that a US official had advised him, when he had been briefly detained in Saudi Arabia, that he was on a watch list. “What is your understanding of what a watch list is? What are they watching for?”
You may now return to watching videos of Mitt Romney speaking to nearly empty stadiums and other illustrations of Republican stupidity.
UPDATE to clarify just what the NDAA is and what the problem is with the 2012 version of it:
NDAA stands for National Defense Authorization Act. It's a federal law that lays out the budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense and there is a new one every year. The problem The problem with this year's NDAA is with some new provisions that have been tacked on, as explained in these videos:
Also, here is an interview of Chris Hedges where discusses why he's involved in this suit against the Obama Administration: