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Arizona, Indiana and Montana strike victories for ‘anti-NDAA’ legislation

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February 25, 2013 in Politics



Legislation advances in three states aimed at protecting citizens from indefinite detention as authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Yesterday was a big day for legislators and activists in several states opposed to the “indefinite detention” provisions of the 2012 NDAA. Legislation passed hurdles in Arizona, Indiana and Montana.

Indiana’s bill, S.B. 400, was perhaps the most significant victory, as it successfully passed the State Senate, making its journey to becoming law nearly halfway over.

The Arizona bill, H.B. 2573, and Montana bill, H.B. 522, passed their respective House Judiciary Committees and will reach full House votes.

If Montana’s unanimous vote of 20 – 0 is any indication of its potential success in the Montana State House, it seems the bill is poised to achieve a result similar to Indiana’s.

Despite these victories, however, yesterday was not as productive for legislation in other states. Washington state’s “Preservation of Liberty Act” was heard by the House Committee on Public Safety, but despite the hearing being extended by an hour and a half, there was not enough time for the committee to take a vote.

Part of the reason the committee ran short on time was due to the large turnout from the public wishing to testify. The hearing included another bill, one addressing aerial drones in the state, which was heard first. That bill successfully passed the committee, 9 – 1, with Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D) being the lone “no” vote.

The Washington anti-NDAA bill, H.B. 1581, at the soonest, will be able to be voted on by the committee in January 2014. Despite being put on hold, it has not died, and supporters still have hope for its eventual success.

The battle against the 2012 NDAA looms at the national level as well, as the Hedges vs. Obama case continues its lengthy progress. Plaintiffs include writer and former New York Times journalist Chris Hedges and the anarchist political activist Noam Chomsky.

The lawsuit against the Obama Administration was first filed on Jan. 13, 2012 in response to the signing of the 2012 version of the National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 31, 2011 by Pres. Obama.

While the NDAA is a perennial piece of legislation that appropriates funds for the military, the 2012 version, through ambiguity, supposedly includes U.S. citizens as potential “covered persons” who can be detained by the military without formal charges or a trial.

Hedge’s concern, along with the co-plaintiffs and his lawyers, is that journalists covering stories related to terrorist groups in a way that the Obama Administration deems supportive or sympathetic could lead to a journalist’s detainment under the 2012 NDAA.

In a recent interview with Washington Times Communities writer Kevin Kelley, Hedges said the following:

I had spent a lot of time [as a New York Times journalist] with individuals and groups on [the list of terrorist groups included in the 2012 NDAA], and so it gave me a standing in court that very few plaintiffs would have had.

I [and my lawyers] all understood that this was a monumental step to not only empower the military to arrest American citizens, but strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in the language of section 1021 “until the end of hostilities,” which in the age of permanent war is probably a lifetime.

The latest action on the Hedges vs. Obama case came on Feb. 6 in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and featured oral arguments for both sides of the case.

Hedges said of the possibility of a ruling in his favor, “I think the assault on the basic constitutional rights of due process is so flagrant and so egregious that we actually have a fairly good chance of winning.”

Emilie Rensink writes about civil liberties, counter-terrorism, cyber-security and political activism. Subscribe to get her articles delivered to your inbox.

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