Obama sued over indefinite detention and torture of Americans act

Published: 17 January, 2012, 02:28

U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington January 13, 2012 (Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

In the past, journalist Chris Hedges has worked for NPR, The New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor. In his latest endeavor, however, he is teaming up with an unlikely pair: a couple of attorneys that will help him take on the president.

US President Barack Obama is the target of a suit filed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Hedges, and the reasoning seems more than obvious to him. The decision to take the commander-in-chief to court comes as a response to President Obama’s December 31 signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a legislation that allows the US military to detain American citizens indefinitely at off-site torture prisons like Guantanamo Bay.

Obama amended the NDAA with a signing statement on New Year’s Eve, insisting that while the Act does indeed give him the power to detain his own citizens indefinitely without charge, that doesn’t mean he will do so. Specifically, Obama wrote that his administration “will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.” Under another piece of legislation, however, the government is being granted the right to suspend citizenship of any American if the Enemy Expatriation Act joins the ranks of the NDAA as an atrocious act approved by the president.

“Once again, you just have to be accused of supporting hostilities which could be defined any way the government sees fit. Then the government can strip your citizenship and apply the indefinite detention section of the NDAA without the benefit of a trial,” journalist Stephen Foster Jr. wrote earlier this month of the Act.

In a blog post published on Monday to TruthDig.com, Hedges announces his effort to take Obama to court, and says his team of attorneys will challenge the president over the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, a provision promised under the NDAA.

In his explanation, Hedges says the signing signals “a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.”

“I spent many years in countries where the military had the power to arrest and detain citizens without charge,” writes Hedges. “I have been in some of these jails. I have friends and colleagues who have ‘disappeared’ into military gulags. I know the consequences of granting sweeping and unrestricted policing power to the armed forces of any nation. And while my battle may be quixotic, it is one that has to be fought if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.”

Like other NDAA opponents, Hedges addresses in his explanation the issue that vague verbiage throughout the legislation creates an almost open-ended scenario for the government to grab anyone in America and put them behind bars. Instead, rather, the legislation leaves American authorities to go after anyone it can use the Act to attack.

As an international correspondent and world-renowned journalist, Hedges has traveled the globe and says he has been put in some hairy situations. Under the NDAA, he says, he might as well be considered a war criminal in the eyes of America.

Under NDAA, the military can enforce indefinite detention on anyone “who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States.” As Hedges and others point out, groups such as “associated forces” are never defined, nor are determinations like “substantially supported.”

“I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists,” writes Hedges. “But that does not make me one.” Regardless, any affiliation with a group branded as such could lead authorities to leap to such conclusions.

Everyone from presidential candidate Ron Paul to the American Civil Liberties Union have questioned Obama’s intentions in signing the NDAA, but Hedge’s lawsuit is the first legal filing lobbed at the president. Regardless of what the president intends by putting the NDAA into law, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero wrote, “Obama’s action … is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”

Hedges thinks he knows what those intentions are, however.

“I suspect the real purpose of this bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state,” says Hedges. “The definition of a terrorist is already so amorphous under the Patriot Act that there are probably a few million Americans who qualify to be investigated if not locked up.” When that piece of legislation is coupled with NDAA, the end result could be catastrophic.

“I suspect it passed because the corporations, seeing the unrest in the streets, knowing that things are about to get much worse, worrying that the Occupy movement will expand, do not trust the police to protect them,” concludes Hedges. “They want to be able to call in the Army. And now they can.”

via Obama sued over indefinite detention and torture of Americans act — RT.

Occupy protesters kicked off bus on way to Washington

By Muriel Kane
Sunday, January 15, 2012 19:08 EST

A group of Occupy protesters from California, who were heading to Washington, DC to participate in the Occupy Congress protest on January 17, were kicked off their Greyhound bus on Saturday night and left stranded in Amarillo, Texas.

The driver, Donald Ainsworth, allegedly called the Occupiers “you people” and told them they were not welcome in Washington or anywhere else. It is not clear whether there had been any precipitating incident.

According to an account posted at Reddit by Road2CongressOSD, “Donald Ainsworth immediately began yelling at all passengers in the lobby. Once he realized 13 passengers were with Occupy he began making personal and rude comments towards members when boarding with tickets. No one responded. Once the bus was boarded he began shouting ‘Sit down and shut up! Anyone standing is getting kicked off the bus.’ Several passengers, not just Occupants, began addressing the driver’s conduct. He left the bus, and locked all passengers within for over an hour. He made a lengthy phone call and before too long the police had arrived. The officer came on the bus and spoke with us, stating he knew Don’s attitude was poor but he had the right to remove us.”

The account goes on to say that the police offer and the driver then walked through the bus together “and Don asked every passenger ‘are you with Occupy?’ To the 13 of us who responded yes, the police ordered them to exit the bus. Then Don said ‘Anyone else support Occupy? You can get off too!’”

The Reddit post concludes by saying, “Also, a few random acts of pizza would be nice:)” According to Crooks and Liars, pizza did arrive from a local Papa John’s, and by Sunday morning the protesters were back on another bus and on their way. They say, however, that Greyhound has so far refused to offer any compensation for their inconvenience.

There does not yet appear to be any published explanation of the driver’s conduct or comment from Greyhound management. It is also not clear whether the driver would have been within his legal rights to order the protests removed without cause or whether his actions were in violation of anti-discrimination laws.

Greyhound’s own regulations specify that “carriers reserve the right to refuse to transport a person under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, or who is incapable of taking care of him/herself, or whose conduct is such or likely to be such as to make him or her objectionable to other passengers or prospective passengers, or who refuses to comply with any lawful rule or regulation of the carrier.” Nothing in what the occupiers have said indicates that they were in violation of any of these criteria.

This video was posted to Youtube on January 15, 2012 by occupy17.

Muriel Kane

Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane

via Occupy protesters kicked off bus on way to Washington | The Raw Story.

City of Cleveland Passes Emergency Vote to Support Occupy Movement

Written by admin on 06 December 2011

Cleveland City Council officially supports the Occupy Movement

 
The Cleveland City Council pass an emergency resolution 1720-11 in support of Occupy Cleveland and the Occupy Movement in general. The final vote from all the Wards was 18 yea and 1 nay.

With the passing of the 1720-11 resolution Cleveland (a US City with a population of 2,250,000 people) joins other cities (Seattle, LA and Chicago etc.) that also have voiced their official support of the Occupy Movement. The following Resolution was sent to President Barack Obama and all members of the U.S. Congress.

Cleveland City Council officially supports the Occupy Movement
Cleveland’s Resolution No. 1720-11

Council Members Cummins, Westbrook,Zone, Cimperman, Cleveland, Mitchell,J. Johnson, Brancatelli, Brady, Polensek, Pruitt, Conwell, K. Johnson, Dow. FOR ADOPTION December 5, 2012

AN EMERGENCY RESOLUTION

Recognizing and supporting the principles of the Occupy Movement and the peaceful and lawful exercise of the First Amendment as a cherished and fundamental right in the effort to seek solutions for economically distressed Americans at the federal, state and local levels; committing to work with the Jackson administration to take steps to minimize economic insecurity and destructive disparities in the City of Cleveland; and requesting our County, State and U.S. elected leaders generate solutions for economically distressed Americans.

WHEREAS, Cleveland community members, like others across the United States, are frustrated by the continuing economic crisis that threatens individual, family, small local business and City finances, and our community’s quality of life, and are participating in Occupy protests to make their voices heard; and

WHEREAS, the economic roots of these protests are varied, including sustained unemployment, growing income disparity, banking system failures, stalled earning power, and unjust tax systems, that all contribute to ongoing wealth disparities; and

WHEREAS, the political roots of these protests are also varied, including the growing political power of corporations, influence of money on elections and public policy and inability of average citizens to have their voices heard and needs met through formal political forums,thus contributing to citizens pursuing alternative political arenas; and

WHEREAS, this prolonged economic downturn has hurt nearly all Americans, in the areas of wealth loss, unemployment, and housing access, it has taken an even greater toll on people of color and women. Women are 29% more likely to be poor than men. The poverty rate for single mother families has increased to 40.7%. Economic gains made by people of color since the Civil Rights Movement have been substantially reduced by the Great Recession; and Caucasian Americans experienced a net wealth loss of 16 percent from 2005 to 2009. African Americans lost about half of their wealth and Latinos lost two-thirds of their wealth in this same period [Ref: Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010]

WHEREAS, more than 25 million Americans are unemployed and seeking work; more than 50 million Americans are living without health insurance; and, more than one in five American children are growing up in households living in poverty without sufficient resources tomeet basic survival needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter
[Ref: unemployed defined as unemployed,marginally attached to the labor force, or working only part-time for economic reasons, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-15.Alternative measures of labor underutilization];
and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in its report, a “CDC Health Disparities & Inequalities Report – United States, 2011″ documents that income inequality in the United States is the highest among advanced industrialized nations, with wide-spread inequities in U.S. health outcomes by income, race, and gender; and

WHEREAS, over the past 30 years, gains in our economy have accrued largely to the top 1% of Americans, who now control 43% of the total net wealth, and to the next 19% on the top that control 50% of the wealth in the United States (top 20% controls 93% of wealth with the bottom 80% controlling only 7%) due in part to public policies that can be changed
[Ref:Wealth Income and Power , by G. William Domhoff, UC Santa Cruz, 2011]
; and

WHEREAS, one of the largest problems distressing our economy is the prolonged foreclosure crisis, with many owners struggling to obtain loan adjustments and too many banks continuing the use of flawed review procedures which end up flooding the housing market with foreclosures and result in blighted and de-valued housing stock due to the high number of properties being left vacant and abandoned and poorly maintained; and

WHEREAS, the Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria metropolitan area has been particularly hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis, ranking 27th of 366 metropolitan statistical areas in the rate of foreclosures (8.2%) according to a March, 2011 ranking compiled by an analysis of LPS Applied Analytics Data by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC); and

WHEREAS, the Cleveland-Lorain-Elyria metropolitan areas ranked eighth amongst the nation’s 25 largest metro areas in its percentage of underwater mortgages (41.5%) according to third quarter 2011 data provided by Zillow Real Estate Market reports; and

WHEREAS, local governments are straining under the increasing weight of responsibility to provide for basic support services at a time of declining tax revenues and as a result of budget reductions by the state and federal government; and

WHEREAS, the structural causes of the economic crisis facing our society require decisive and sustained action at the national and state levels. Cities are harmed by the crisis and must play an important role in the development of public policy to address it; and

WHEREAS, this Council commits to working with the Jackson administration to continue taking steps to minimize economic insecurity and destructive disparities in the City by:

1. following the City’s Community Reinvestment Act practices to ensure that public funds are invested in responsible financial institutions that demonstrate strong support for our community. The Council may also consider future legislation to promote responsible banking and provide an incentive for banking institutions to invest more in our City, particularly with regard to stabilizing the housing market and supporting the creation of new businesses. This review should include evaluating City policies on responsible depositing and management of City funds;

2. examining the number of home foreclosures in Cleveland, the geographic neighborhoods in which the foreclosures are occurring, and lender information on homes involved in the foreclosure process, including real estate owned homes; working with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, the City of Cleveland Housing Court, and Case Western Reserve University’s NEOCanDo to gather qualitative data on the circumstances and causes of foreclosures and the foreclosure methods and practices of lenders, including reviewing apparent inequities many people in Cleveland face when lender foreclosure proceedings occur;

3. consulting with advocates of tax reform and experts on equitable taxation and review past tax reform efforts in order to work effectively with the County and State Legislature toward a more equitable tax structure;

4. as federal and state assistance dwindles, continuing to use available resources to provide assistance for the most vulnerable people in Cleveland; and

5. because reforms in education and career preparation are essential for building a viable future and disparities in these areas begin very early in life and often continue through adulthood,seeking maximum possible funding for Early Learning and Basic Education in the State Legislative Agenda; and recognizing the critical importance of supporting community colleges,technical colleges, and state universities as they provide access to retraining and workforce development opportunities; and

WHEREAS, Congress must generate solutions for economically distressed Americans by:

1. Supporting job creation, making substantial investments in the nation’s critical physical and technological infrastructure, and reducing the deficit by adopting fiscal policies with equitable corporate and individual taxation and by allowing the 2010 extension of President Bush’s tax cuts to expire in 2012 as the law currently requires;

2. Tightening regulation of the banking and financial sector, including adoption of new rules and vigorous investigation and prosecution of individuals and corporations that violate the fraud, theft, and securities laws; and

3. Retaining or increasing community-building block grants for local schools and social services and protect public education from devastating cuts and prevent tuition levels that block fair access to higher education; and

WHEREAS, this Council does not condone actions that infringe upon the lawful rights of others, obstruct or interfere with the efforts of law enforcement officers to protect such rights, or cause personal injury or property destruction; and

WHEREAS, Americans can and must resolve the divisive economic and social realitiesfacing our nation in a peaceful way that honors our commitment to democracy, equality and justice; and

WHEREAS, this resolution constitutes an emergency measure for the immediate preservation of public peace, property, health, or safety, now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CLEVELAND:

Section 1. That this Council recognizes and supports the principles of the Occupy Movement and the peaceful and lawful exercise of the First Amendment as a cherished and fundamental right in the effort to seek solutions for economically distressed Americans at the federal, state and local levels.

Section 2. That this Council commits to working with the Jackson administration to continue taking steps to minimize economic insecurity and destructive disparities in the City of Cleveland.

Section 3.
That this Council requests our Congressional leaders generate solutions for economically distressed Americans.

Section 4.
That the Clerk of Council is directed to transmit copies of this resolution to President Barack Obama and all members of the U.S. Congress.

Section 5.
That this resolution is hereby declared to be an emergency measure and, provided it receives the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to Council, it shall take effect and be in force immediately upon its adoption and approval by the Mayor; otherwise, it shall take effect and be in force from and after the earliest period allowed by law.

BC:rns12/5/11
SLF ®12/5/2011 6:17 PM

via City of Cleveland Passes Emergency Vote to Support OWS | KenBurridge.com.

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