BOWLING GREEN – A few days ago, the United States Justice Department submitted its brief in Hedges v. Obama, a suit challenging Section 1021 (b) (2) of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. In it, they argue the Court should dismiss Hedges for lack of standing.
The most outrageous argument made by DOJ attorneys in the brief, however, is on page 9.
“On March 13, 2009, the government submitted its definition of detainable individuals under the AUMF to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the ongoing habeas corpus litigation brought by detainees held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba…that definition includes…persons who were part of, or substantially supported, Taliban or al-Qaida forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act, or has directly supported hostilities, in aid of such enemy armed forces.”
The Department of Justice then goes on to argue that because the government took this position in 2009 on the interpretation of America’s entry into the War on Terror, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, the 2012 NDAA does nothing new. Therefore, since the plaintiffs have challenged a section of the 2012 NDAA, they have no standing.
The 2001 AUMF, it’s important to understand, is directly tied to retribution for the crimes on September 11, 2001. Here’s the language from the law:
“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001…”
Yet in its brief, the government does not tie a person’s actions to the attacks of 9-11. Instead, it argues that a person who merely commits a “belligerent act” is covered under the 2001 AUMF even if that person had no connection to 9-11.
So, if the government declares they have power that far exceeds the definitions in the 2001 AUMF, they automatically have that power. Not only that, but this argument is based on the premise that if the government argues a law does something, that law automatically does the same. Under this logic, were the government to argue that the AUMF allowed them to limit free speech, the law would be reinterpreted instantly to apply to free speech. It’s an absurd argument, but one the government has been making throughout Hedges.
The plaintiffs will have to respond in 10 days. You can read the entire brief here: http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Hedges-US-brief-in-opp.pdf
Dan Johnson is the Founder and National Director of People Against the NDAA. Invite him to speak to your group here: https://alternetmedia.com/panda/aboutus/contactus/