Federal Judge Reaffirms Ban on Indefinite Detention of Americans

Federal Judge Katherine B. Forrest has answered a request from President Obama to clarify her May 16 ruling made in the Southern District of New York regarding the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Judge Forrest confirmed in an eight-page memorandum opinion this week that the NDAA’s provision that allows for indefinite detention cannot be used on any American citizens.

Last month Judge Forrest ruled in favor of a group of journalists and activists who filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Section 1021 of the NDAA, a defense spending bill signed into law by President Obama on New Year’s Eve. Judge Forrest said in her injunction that the legislation contained elements that had a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights” and ruled that the government cannot indefinitely imprison Americans over suspected ties with terrorists.
“In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more,” said the judge.
The Obama administration responded by asking Judge Forrest to reconsider her ruling and that in the interim, the government would interpret the injunction to mean that only the plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit would be excluded from indefinite detention. One of those named, journalist Chris Hedges said, “I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists … but that does not make me one.”
Judge Forrest did include in her ruling, however, that Americans can be indefinitely detained, but only if the government can link them directly to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
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