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Judge: Obama Administration Can Indefinitely Detain Anyone

Stay issued on Tuesday afternoon deals blow to civil liberties

Common Dreams staff

Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, who sued the government over a controversial provision in the most recent NDAA, is seen here addressing a crowd in New York’s Zuccotti park. (AP/John Minchillo)

On Tuesday afternoon an appeals court stopped an order blocking indefinite detention, siding with the Obama adminstration's right to indefinitely detain terror suspects.

Politico reports on the ruling from Appeals Court Judges Denny Chin, Raymond Lohier and Christopher Droney:

First, in its memorandum of law in support of its motion, the government clarifies unequivocally that, 'based on their stated activities,' plaintiffs, 'journalists and activists[,] . . . are in no danger whatsoever of ever being captured and detained by the U.S. military.'

Second, on its face, the statute does not affect the existing rights of United States citizens or other individuals arrested in the United States. See NDAA § 1021(e) ('Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.').


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Third, the language of the district court's injunction appears to go beyond NDAA § 1021 itself and to limit the government's authority under the Authorization for Use of Military Force...

Last month U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest declared the law unconstitutional, giving what Chris Hedges, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, described as "an unqualified victory for the public." 

But the victory was short lived. The Hill notes that "the Obama administration responded with an emergency motion to stay the injunction, arguing that the court ruling 'threatens tangible and dangerous consequences in the conduct of an active military conflict.'"

The ruling today extends that temporary stay.

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