On Wednesday, Judge Katherine Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the District of Southern New York issued a permanent injunction against the National Defense Authorization Act’s provisions allowing the executive branch to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens, without access to counsel or benefit of trial, who
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 the aid of such enemy forces.
The provisions were challenged on the grounds that the vagueness of the terms, especially “substantially supported” violated the due process of law and threatened the First Amendment rights to free speech and association of the plaintiffs, a collection of political activists and journalists including such notables as Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg. The ruling can be read here.
The Obama administration, which publicly expressed its horror at the detention provisions, but in fact pushed to have them included in the NDAA (as explained in Congressional debate by Michigan Senator Car Levin, immediately filed an appeal.
God only knows what either the 2nd Circuit or, inevitably, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide, but this is a good first step.
I am in the final stages of publishing a policy brief on the topic of the NDAA’s detention provisions. I’ll make an announcement and provide a link when it’s available.
[Edit: For those with a passing interest in how the writing process works, it took 5 paragraphs to complete the paper. I arrived in my office at 8:30 a.m., took an hour for lunch, and am leaving now at 4:00 p.m. Writing those 5 paragraphs was the only thing I accomplished today. Damned if I understand how anyone ever manages to complete a whole book.]