Chris Hedges: A Victory for All of Us!
In January, attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran asked me to be the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, that challenged the harsh provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). We filed the lawsuit, worked for hours on the affidavits, carried out the tedious depositions, prepared the case, and went to trial because we did not want to be passive in the face of another egregious assault on our liberties, because resistance is a moral imperative, and because, at the very least, we hoped we could draw attention to the injustice of the law. None of us thought we could win. But every once in a while, the gods smile on the damned. US District Judge Katherine Forrest, in a 68-page opinion, ruled Wednesday that Section 1021 of the NDAA was unconstitutional. It was a stunning and monumental victory. With her ruling she returned us to a country where, as it was before Obama signed this act into law December 31, the government cannot strip a US citizen of due process or use the military to arrest him or her, and then hold him or her in military prison indefinitely. She categorically rejected the government's claims that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to bring the case to trial, because none of us had been indefinitely detained, that lack of imminent enforcement against us meant there was no need for an injunction, and that the NDAA simply codified what had previously been set down in the 2001 Authorization to use Military Force Act. The ruling was a huge victory for the protection of free speech. Judge Forrest struck down language in the law that she said gave the government the ability to incarcerate people based on what they said or wrote. Maybe it will be overturned. But we and other Americans are freer today than we were a week ago.