Ways to help out:

1) The Senate will vote on an amendment to end indefinite detention later this fall. Click here to urge your senators to support that amendment and tell Obama to stop fighting our efforts in court: https://www.stopndaa.org/takeAction

2) Our attorneys have been working pro bono, but court costs are piling up. You can donate to support our lawsuit and activism (75% to the lawyers/court costs, 25% to RevTruth and Demand Progress, which have steered hundreds of thousands of contacts to Congress and been doing online work like organizing this AMA).

Click here to use ActBlue: https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/ama

Click here to use WePay or PayPal. https://www.stopndaa.org/donate

About Us

We are lawyers, plaintiffs, and civil liberties advocates involved in the Hedges v. Obama lawsuit and other activism to fight the NDAA - specifically the "indefinite detention" provision.

Indefinite detention was passed as part of the fiscal 2012 National Defense Authorization Act and signed into law by President Obama on New Years Eve last Decemb. It would allow the military to detain civilians -- even Americans -- indefinitely and without charge or trial.

The provision being fought (Section 1021 of the NDAA) suspends due process and seriously threatens First Amendment rights. Judge Katherine Forrest ruled entirely in favor of the plaintiffs earlier this month, calling Section 1021 completely unconstitutional and granting a permanent injunction against its enforcement.

The Obama DOJ has vigorously opposed these efforts, and immediately appealed her ruling and requested an emergency stay on the injunction - claiming the US would incur "irreparable harm" if the president lost the power to use Section 1021 - and detain anyone, anywhere "until the end of hostilities" on a whim. This case will probably make its way to the Supreme Court.

You can read more about the lawsuit here: http://www.stopndaa.org/

Participants in this conversation:

First hour or so: Chris Hedges, lead plaintiff, author, and Pulitzer Prize winning former NYTimes reporter. Username == hedgesscoop

Starting in the second hour or so: Daniel Ellsberg, plaintiff and Pentagon Papers leaker. Username == ellsbergd

Starting about two hours in:

Bruce Afran, attorney. Username == bruceafran

Carl Mayer, attorney. Username == cyberesquire


Tangerine Bolen: plaintiff and lawsuit coordinator, director of RevolutionTruth. Username == TangerineBolenRT

David Segal: Former RI state representative, Exec Director of Demand Progress. Username == davidadamsegal

Proof (will do our best to add more as various individuals join in):
https://www.stopndaa.org/redditAMA https://twitter.com/demandprogress https://twitter.com/revtruth Daniel, with today's paper, ready for Reddit: https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.demandprogress.org/images/IMG_20120927_094759.jpg

Update 1: Chris had to run off for 20 min. Back now, as of 12:40 -- sorry for the delay. Update 2: As of 1:20 Daniel Ellsberg is answering questions. We have Chris for a few more mins, and expect the lawyers to join in about an hour. Update 3 As of 2pm ET our lawyers are on. Chris had to leave.

Comments: 1489 • Responses: 15  • Date: 

sabrohammer108 karma

I read that the permanent injunction was immediately appealed and overturned by the Obama administration, suggesting that they have already used this provision to detain people. If this is true, do you think there is much hope that the Supreme Court will challenge the executive branch if they're already using this law? For the sake of protecting their legitimacy, I don't believe they are interested in meaningfully challenging this administration.

Secondly, I recently read that Julian Assange has been designated an enemy by the US military--meaning they view him on par with al Qaeda. Under the NDAA, doesn't this mean that supporters of Assange (financial supporters especially) could be indefinitely detained by the military?

Finally, I would just like to wish you all the best of luck. This is a very courageous thing to do. Meaningful dissent is always a dangerous venture.

hedgesscoop128 karma

If the Obama administration simply appealed it, as we expected, it would have raised this red flag. But since they were so aggressive it means that once Judge Forrest declared the law invalid, if they were using it, as we expect, they could be held in contempt of court. This was quite disturbing, for it means, I suspect, that U.S. citizens, probably dual nationals, are being held in military detention facilities almost certainly overseas and maybe at home.

davidadamsegal70 karma

Chris -- I asked this earlier, but might be hard to pluck out, thanks to all the wonderful comments and questions below. What do we think of the signing statement via which Obama asserted that he supposedly wouldn't use this authority? How can our govt perceive a present threat if Obama had truly tied his hands and declined to use this authority?

starkweather44476 karma

Hello, my question is what is the most troubling aspect of Section 1021 for you? Is it the nebulous term "associated forces"?

davidadamsegal128 karma

That's certainly the hook that potentially jeopardizes activists and journalists and the like. Completely undefined. What if you're a journalist who reports a statement issued by the Taliban, or interviews a leader thereof and reports what he says? What if you're activist who believes that Wikileaks should enjoy First Amend protections?

davidadamsegal74 karma

And one more question, for you guys or for the lawyers once they join us in a bit: How do we reconcile Obama's signing statement asserting that he wouldn't use this authority with the governments panicked efforts to block the injunction and their assertion that it would cause immediate harm to US interests? If we're not using this power, how can being prevented from using it have such a severe impact?

kgosztola61 karma

Hello, Chris

What can you say about the effort by the Obama Justice Department and other so-called legal scholars to vilify Judge Forrest for her decision and for standing by it when she refused to stay her ruling?

Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake.com writer

hedgesscoop75 karma

Very disturbing and a window into how the security and surveillance state has both parties in its grip. Even the W Post ran an editorial and denounced her decision.

davidadamsegal75 karma

Huffington Post published a semi-satirical story after the injunction, listing 7 ways to get yourself detained. One of them was, to paraphrase, "being Judge Forrest and ruling that indef detention is unconstitutional".

davidadamsegal41 karma

I'll get us started with a general question for both Chris and Tangerine: What inspired you to take on this relatively thankless effort, and why do you think it's been so difficult to attract mainstream attention?

nexlux30 karma

Can you do more to reach the people? Can we do more to spread the word?

I am posting about this on my facebook, on my twitter, but are you guys releasing any youtube videos?

How about very digestible posters or images to distribute on the net?

As with most all conflicts, information usually only helps the masses. If we can get out WHY and HOW this will affect citizens of USA, we can get more grassroots support.

I am behind you 100000%, please know that you are a beacon of hope for many, many youth in America.

Thank you again on behalf of me and my house of roommates, we carefully follow your progress and wish you only luck, because your success will be our success as well.

Also, please answer sabrohammer's question, I am very concerned about possible previous contributions to wikileaks and assange.

davidadamsegal42 karma

Thank god for Reddit and similar forums -- imagine trying to fight something like this 20 years ago, without the Internet. We'd of course encourage everybody to do whatever they can to spread word, online and off. Use the electoral cycle for hooks -- pester candidates about this, etc. Try to get it inserted into debates for House and Senate.

MahoneyRed22 karma

With Wikileaks and Assange now being declared "Enemies of the State" by the White House, does this mean that people who openly support or spread the message of Wikileaks are now considered "supporters" of an enemy group? Thus would they be possible detainees?

Also, thank you very much for your efforts on this matter. I support your efforts in every way I can, and I openly encourage others to be aware and get involved in this issue as well.

We need to stand up and speak now, or who will be there when they come to take your neighbors, and then you?

davidadamsegal28 karma

These are precisely the questions we're most concerned with. Huffpo did a great (semi-) satiric spread when they reported on the injunction: "7 ways to get indefinitely detained" or something like that.

Being the judge who ruled that sec 1021 was unconstitutional made the list.

ponderr22 karma


davidadamsegal23 karma

We respect and cherish the ACLU, but haven't heard from them on this one.

davidadamsegal8 karma

Speaking narrowly to the lawsuit -- they've been doing other NDAA activism work.

BrokenCarpenter19 karma

I find that NDAA and the incredible lengths the Government is going to, to protect the unchecked power, post 9/11 somewhat overwhelming. As a country, we have always held ourselves up as the good-guys in the white hats, but the constant assault on our Constitutional Rights by Presidents in both parties with the mainstream media, as a propaganda organ, grinding away 24/7 to instill fear in the citizenry seems to be meant to frighten average citizens from using their free speech rights. In your opinion do you think the sudden seemingly coordinated evictions of the Occupy movement to be a sign of things to come for those that challenge the 1% and corporate powers that be?

davidadamsegal32 karma

A sign of things to come -- and a sign of the way things already are. It's getting pretty bad out there. Our government asserts the right to kill people with flying robots without due process, lock up American civilians without charge or trial, has criminalized the right to take to the streets in protest, etc...

nolenk8t17 karma

Since you already mentioned Wikileaks... This is from another front page at this moment post about Assange criticizing Obama. I think it's pretty spot on.

"Everything is different when "they" do it. We protect vital state secrets. They lie to their citizens. We keep Americans safe from foreign terrorists. They attack our peace and democracy spreading troops. They are terrorists, using fear as their weapon. We kill terrorists, using flying robots and teams of black-dressed men in the night. In the west, we are taught that taking the lives of 2800 Americans is the greatest crime in a generation, while killing a million people across the globe in 10 years is simply the price of democracy and freedom. "Look at Saddam Hussein," we say, "he was a monster. We had to get him out of power" - but somehow it never registers that we've killed more Iraqi citizens than just about anyone. Julian Assange revealed information that embarrassed the ruling elite - information that for just a moment, ripped the mask off of the Way Things Work. The grinning skull underneath scared people, and worse, it inspired more people to tell the truth and reveal secrets. The ruling class can't have any of that. That's why there is an unheard-of prosecution of whistleblowers in America right now. The real criminals in this new world are those who reveal the crimes, not those who commit them. Obama is not to blame for this. He is a pretty face and a silver tongue - that's why he gets to be president. Right now, that's what's needed as the face of the machine. Whenever he gets too mistrusted or draws too much ire, he will be seamlessly replaced with another pretty, silver-tongued face. And the same people who decried Obama will rally to this new face, cherish it and hold it as a god. The same as what happened in 2008, when the masses received their new champion, and the old anger was flushed out with the ex-president. They're very, very good at keeping people angry at the wrong things. They've had a lot of practice. So sure, be excited about freedom of speech for them, over there. Just don't use your freedom here, or you're liable to find out how little of it you actually have." (http://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/10jw6p/wikileaks_founder_julian_assange_lashed_out_at_us/)

What are your thoughts on that, and how do you think it applies to your lawsuit if at all. How do you think we can best address the problem? How can we raise awareness? Jon Stewart seems like the counterpoint pretty face to me, but still no one at my work right now even knew about the NDAA, let alone had questions for you when I geeked out and asked out loud if anyone wanted to know anything.

davidadamsegal7 karma

I think that it's generally right, though not to be read as though there's some single hegemon or a tightly construed conspiracy between a handful of Masters of the Universe that yields these effects. It's the alignment of various powerful interests, in patterns that repeat themselves -- really a positive feedback loop -- that creates this dynamic.

ben_chowd16 karma

I only know of this lawsuit from reading non-Establishment Media sources. Have you been able to get any press on cable news? Why the blind eye from supposedly liberal programs on MSNBC?

davidadamsegal41 karma

We've been trying to drive more media attention to the case, and there are a few MSM reporters who've been covering it -- Charlie Savage at NYTimes, Mike McAuliff at Huffpo. John Stewart actually took this issue on for several days in December when the bill was on the verge of passage, but has been silent since -- he'd blow this wide open if he chose to get involved once more.

But we know that people make it into prominence in the MSM by not rocking the boat, hedging their reporting in a way that comports with the interests of the establishment, etc. So it's not easy.

davidadamsegal26 karma

You'd expect more journalists to be concerned about their work potentially putting them in legal jeopardy, but the media establishment in this country is so decrepit that most journalists don't even endeavor to do the sort of reporting that could get them trawled in under this law. Nobody's out there interviewing the actors whom this law purports to target.

Rep_DanGordon29 karma

David, forgive me if I'm doing this wrong. (1st time on reddit) I don't know if you know or not, but actually got an anti-NDAA resolution passed here in Rhode Island. Not many know, as no media outlet in the state would run the press release. Thanks for all of your work in fighting back against NDAA. Here is the article by The New American.


davidadamsegal12 karma

Thanks for your work on this, Rep.

ColBeaupre13 karma

Hi, My question is: How could the POTUS signing into law a deemed unconstitutional provision be legal?

davidadamsegal24 karma

The courts don't weigh in on a specific law until after it's passed -- that's the process that we're in the midst of now. The district court determined that it's unconstitutional, but Obama appealed that ruling. So it goes to a circuit court next, and likely eventually to the Supreme Court for a final determination.