Barack Obama had promised to put an end to torture, to Guantanamo, and to other outrages of the Bush Administration. But what has ensued since he has taken office is quite different: not only the continuation of rendition, the Patriot Act, and arbitrary imprisonment in Guantanamo, but a ratcheting up of the government-judicial assault on fundamental rights.
In the 2010 case of Holder v HLP [Humanitarian Law Project], the Obama administration made, and won, its argument before the courts for broadening the crime of “material support” to “terrorists” to include speaking with and advising (even on some legal matters) any such group designated as terrorist. Then there is Attorney-General Eric Holder outrageously and fascistically claiming that when the President secretly orders assassinations he is effectively meeting Constitutional requirements of due process.
The most recent example of the expansion of illegitimate government powers of repression is the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. The NDAA, in particular Section 1021 of the law, gives any President the power to detain people, including U.S. citizens, indefinitely in military prisons, without charge or trial. It is a very ominous development that threatens dissent and opposition to the government and status quo.
Lawsuit Challenges NDAA
This attack on fundamental rights has aroused concern and prompted protest and legal challenges. But how this ongoing government-legal juggernaut is fought, and what principles should be adhered to in order to truly advance the people’s interests and just struggles, is also of great consequence. In this light, the lawsuit Hedges et al. v Obama et al., involving several progressive activists, journalists, and scholars, including Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky, and the ruling by the judge, take on notable significance.