Dangerous New Turn in Obama Administration’s Assault on Fundamental Rights

from Revolution Newspaper

The Obama administration has demonstrated yet again its resolve to clear away any legal obstacles to enforcing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This law, enacted in December 2011, contains a provision (section 1021) that gives the government the power to indefinitely detain, without charge or trial, a broad and vague category of people—which could include people who have nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks or with terrorism in general.

The NDAA is a dangerous assault on fundamental rights.

A lawsuit, Hedges et al. v. Obama et al., brought by Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and four other plaintiffs, challenges this draconian provision of the law. On May 16, Federal District Court Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in their favor, declaring that section 1021 of the NDAA is unconstitutional. The judge imposed an injunction temporarily blocking enforcement of the law. The Obama administration immediately appealed.

On September 12, Judge Forrest rejected a government request to reconsider her ruling and ordered a permanent injunction against this section of the NDAA. But within 24 hours, Obama administration lawyers filed a motion to stay this order, claiming that the injunction caused “irreparable harm to national security and the public interest.” And this stay was granted.

In other words, the NDAA is in effect! The government’s expanded authority to arbitrarily detain citizens and non-citizens, under the pretext of national security, is now being enforced—pending further legal challenges.

Harmful Characterization Still Part of Trial Record

It is especially alarming that as this lawsuit winds through the courts, the erroneous and potentially harmful mischaracterization of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and Bob Avakian that Judge Forrest incorporated into her May 16 opinion remains part of the official trial record of this case.

Judge Forrest’s ruling, though mainly positive, contains a profound mischaracterization of the RCP and Bob Avakian. Specifically, it says that the Party “endorses the use of violence towards revolutionary ends,” a phrase that could lend itself to the false interpretation that the RCP might seek to achieve its aims through acts of terrorism. For critical background on this threatening situation for the RCP and Bob Avakian, readers should go to: “Letter Points to Dangerous Mischaracterization in National Defense Authorization Act Ruling,” Revolution #274, July 8, 2012, and “Brief Filed Objecting to Dangerous Mischaracterization of RCP, USA,” Revolution #275, July 22, 2012.

Acting on the seriousness of this assault, including the unacceptable singling out of the RCP and its Chairman Bob Avakian, “A Call To Stand Together To Oppose The Obama Administration’s Dangerous Assault On Fundamental Rights” has been issued. This public statement has been signed by over 650 people including Daniel Ellsberg; Cornel West; actor-director Mark Ruffalo; attorneys Ron Kuby and Michael Steven Smith; Cindy Sheehan; scholars Stephen Zunes, Donna Haraway, Colin Dayan, and Andrew Ross; film/TV actor Peter Coyote; antiwar veterans Scott Olsen and Matthis Chiroux; and Project Censored founders Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips.

The call declares: “Those of us signing this statement cannot speak for the RCP and indeed have various levels of familiarity with and a variety of views on its philosophical and political principles and objectives. But we do not countenance—and recognize as very dangerous—the designation by the powers-that-be of groups as politically ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable.’ History teaches, by negative and positive example, that we must stand against attempts to divide progressive, radical, and revolutionary forces along any such lines.”

The call also states: “The pattern is disturbingly clear: not just a continuation but a further leap in the draconian measures taken by the Bush administration—under the pretext of the open-ended, so-called War on Terror—to detain, torture, and assassinate... not just a continuation but a further leap in measures to restrict and criminalize dissent and opposition to the status quo.”

This call is all the more important in the face of the latest legal turn. It can be signed at opposerepressionndaa.net. Funds are being raised for high-profile publication of the call in coming weeks.

This article originally appeared on revcom.us on October 1, 2012.