Indefinite Detention: the Courts, the Congress & the Chicago PD

Recently, there has been a victory and a defeat regarding the indefinite detention provision of the Fiscal Year (FY)2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges meets with and writes stories about terrorists and believes the indefinite detention provision of NDAA could allow him to be detained. Hedges filed a lawsuit against President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claiming the provision, as applied, violates the 1st and 5th Amendments. The Judge asked the federal attorneys a crucial question, “are you telling me that no US citizen can be detained under 1021 (of the NDAA)?” A specific denial would have ended Hedges’ case, the Federal attorneys failed to answer directly.

DownsizeDC – an advocacy group seeking to “to foster human progress by reducing State coercion” – filed the only amicus brief in the case and reports, “The Judge agreed with two of our main arguments. We said the new law is…

  • Illegally vague. The Judge said there has to be a precise definition of who is subject to the law, and this law fails.
  • Unfair, because it subjects people to detention even when they had no intent to cause harm or knowledge that they were risking such detention.”

U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest not only gave Hedges standing to challenge the law, she also issued an injunction to halt the legalized kidnappings!

The day after Judge Forrest issued her decision, Representatives Justin Amash (R–MI) and Adam Smith (D–WA) proposed an amendment to the FY2013 NDAA, that would strike section 1022 of the FY2012 NDAA and amend Section 1021 of the same Act to eliminate indefinite military detention for anyone detained in the jurisdiction of the United States of America.

The New York Times reports, “the left-right coalition fizzled in the face of charges that the two lawmakers were coddling terrorists.”

Even after the indefinite detention provision was ruled to be illegal, the Congress failed to repeal the section of law. The Chicago Police Department took their defiance of the Court one step farther. TruthOut Assistant Editor Yana Kunichoff reports, “A pre-emptive raid by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) on the home of two Occupy Chicago activists may have happened without a search warrant, said the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), and led to the disappearance of nine activists into police custody without charge for almost 24 hours.”

Zoe Sigman, an Occupy Chicago activist whose home was raided, said, “I’d like to stress that we have done nothing wrong. We have been planning to protest NATO and there is nothing illegal about expressing our feelings about a war machine. Now we’re being treated as mere criminals.” The CPD has released claims that the raid recovered Molotov cocktails, though activists said that the equipment is merely for home brewing of beer.

One protester said, “it’s important to continue protesting, because this tactic was obviously an attempt to intimidate.” I urge you to continue speaking out against tyranny, and I intend to do the same.