Posts Tagged ‘right to trial’

Honor the legacy of Fred Korematsu by preventing arbitrary military detention under the NDAA

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm by

On January 30 of each year, the state of California celebrates its Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.  This day commemorates the legacy of Fred T. Korematsu, the Japanese-American activist who famously defied domestic military detention during  World War II.

In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing US armed forces to designate particular areas as ‘military zones’ and evacuate resident civilians.  Enforcement of this order disproportionately displaced persons of Japanese ancestry into internment camps.  Although eventually incarcerated himself, Korematsu spent his days after World War II as an activist for equal treatment and accountability under the law.

Beyond championing redress for the mass internment of Japanese-Americans, Korematsu signified a critical voice against constitutionally subversive post-9/11 national security policies.  He expressed his perspective on military detention in amicus briefs to multiple Guantanamo cases, writing in one instance that:

…even in times of crisis; we must guard against prejudice and keep uppermost our commitment to law and justice.

As America endures our contemporary constitutional crisis, please join BORDC in protecting our rights under the Constitution by honoring the legacy of Fred Korematsu. BORDC has devised a model resolution through which local and state governments can reject the domestic military detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and require local officials to resist federal attempts to detain residents without trial.

Since President Obama signed into law provisions that could allow the US military to indefinitely detain any American arbitrarily, the right to due process has hung by a thread. Under the vague and often misguided definitions of the national security establishment, the NDAA could be used to detain activists, journalists, academics, or anyone else.

By restoring the constitutional rights abrogated by the NDAA, communities and local governments can create the momentum necessary to effectively end indefinite detention. We cannot allow our nation to repeat our historical travesties.

BORDC works with local activists across the country to help them connect with other groups and build diverse coalitions to support constitutional fidelity. Join the campaign today to check the federal government and preserve the liberties that generations struggled to achieve

Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC’s May Newsletter

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm by

Constitution in Crisis

May 2012, Vol. 11, No. 5

Congress considers bills to reform the NDAA’s detention powers


Grassroots News

Law and Policy

New Resources and Opportunities

News Digest 5/14/12

Monday, May 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

A slick trick on the NDAA and indefinite detention; Don’t be fooled!

Friday, April 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm by

This blog post by Chris Anders was originally published by the American Civil Liberties Union.

It looks like there is slick little trick brewing in Congress. Supporters of locking people up without charge or trial are getting ready to play yet another trick on the American people.

Late yesterday, Congressman Scott Rigell and 26 other members of Congress introduced a bill, H.R. 4388, which he is trying to sell to the American people as a “fix” for the National Defense Authorization Act. But in fact, it is a useless bill that might actually end up causing harm.

That’s right. The plan in the House of Representatives seems to be to try to fool Americans into thinking that they are fixing the indefinite detention problems with the NDAA and the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, when in fact, they are doing nothing good.

Don’t be fooled!

Here’s how they hope their trick will work. H.R. 4388, which was sneakily mistitled as the “Right to Habeas Corpus Act,” states that no one in the United States will lose their habeas rights under the NDAA. That might sound like something good, but it’s meaningless.

The question with the NDAA was never whether habeas rights are lost. Instead, the question is whether and when any president can order the military to imprison a person without charge or trial. The NDAA did not take away habeas rights from anyone, but it did codify a dangerous indefinite detention without charge or trial scheme. And nothing in the proposed bill by Rigell would change it. The Rigell bill won’t stop any president from ordering the military lockup of civilians without charge or trial.

And there’s more. Not only is it a useless bill, but it could end up causing harm too. It doesn’t accurately and fully list who is entitled to habeas (for example, it doesn’t even mention American citizens traveling outside the country), which could end up causing confusion.

They are hoping you will fall for their trick and waste all your time and energy on something meaningless—and not fight for legislation that actually protects people from indefinite detention without charge or trial.

They are hoping you will ignore the bills that actually are first steps towards fixing the NDAA. Congressman Adam Smith and Sen. Mark Udall introduced H.R. 4192/S. 2175, which codifies a ban on the military imprisoning civilians without charge or trial or trying persons before military commissions within the United States, as well as repeals section 1022 of last year’s NDAA. Also, Congressman Ron Paul has sponsored H.R. 3785, which repeals section 1021 of the NDAA. Both are meaningful first steps towards fixing a problem.

Supporters of last year’s NDAA indefinite detention provisions hope you will fall for their trick. They want you to spend your time pushing for the Rigell bill, instead of working on something meaningful. Retweet the ACLU’s tweet to Rigell to tell him to stop playing games with indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC’s April Newsletter

Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 10:05 am by

Constitution in Crisis

April 2012, Vol. 11, No. 4

NYPD abuses impact activists and minorities across the Northeast


Grassroots News

Law and policy

New resources and opportunities

Congressman fails to provide convincing defense for NDAA

Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm by

A report from one of Salon’s online contributors, John Knefel, claims that even the most staunch supporters of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) cannot defend it against accusations that it violates the rights of US citizens. In a discussion with Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY), Gibson based his defense of the NDAA on Section 1021(e) of the law, which states,

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.

Defendants of the NDAA have repeatedly submitted this specific section as proof that the NDAA does not change the existing law protecting US citizens and legal aliens. But as Knefel points out, “existing law is part of the problem.” Most notably, there is the case of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American-born Muslim cleric, who was killed on September 30, 2011 by a missile fired from an American drone aircraft. Although Awlaki was considered one of the most prominent English-speaking advocates of violent jihad against the United States, this strike appeared to be the first time since the 9/11 attacks that an American citizen had been deliberately targeted and killed by American forces.

His assassination was ordered by the Obama administration in 2010 despite his US citizenship, which naturally provoked lawsuits from human rights and civil liberties groups. According to The New York Times, the administration issued a secret legal memorandum that opened the door to killing a US citizen without trial. This secret memorandum remained intact despite the fact that it contradicts an executive order banning assassinations, a federal law against murder, protections in the Bill of Rights and various structures of the international laws of war. Although this secret memo was tailored specifically to the case of Awlaki and does not allow for the assassination of any US citizen suspected of involvement with a terrorist organization, it does demonstrate how existing law allows for complete disregard of constitutional liberties under certain circumstances.

In short, Section 1021(e) of the NDAA offers little assurance that civil liberties will remain intact. Even if supporters of the NDAA are correct in their statements that this law only reinforces existing law, they can by no means justify the claim that it will have little or no impact on US citizens.

Guantánamo autopsy raises concerns over mistreatment of prisoners

Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm by

GuantanamoA recently released autopsy report of two prisoners in Guantánamo Bay casts suspicions on the supposed suicides that transpired in May 2007 and June 2009. The Department of Defense examiners reported that Abdul Rahman Al Amri was found hanging dead with his hands tied behind his back, raising questions about how he could have managed to kill himself.  The second prisoner, Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Selah Al Hanashi “was found wearing standard issue detainee clothing, the undergarments from which he supposedly used to kill himself, and not the tear-proof suicide smock issued to detainees who are actively suicidal.” It is still uncertain whether or not Al Hanashi was under an active suicide watch, even though reports claim that he had been seen “repeatedly banging his head on prison walls, and had made five suicide attempts in the four weeks prior to his death.”

The mysterious circumstances and unanswered questions surrounding these deaths continue to feed concerns that this may not have been as open and shut as the autopsy report claimed. While several of these details were kept from the media, they were not unknown among the other prisoners. As Jeffrey Kaye of Truthout magazine reports,

In a 2010 letter to his attorney, released as part of a court filing, longtime Guantanamo hunger striker Abdul Rahman Shalabi told his attorney, “You know what happened to (Abdul Rahman Al-Amri) who was killed in camp five two years ago, hanging while his hands were tied behind his back, and he was in solitary confinement…. When the Americans released the news of his death, they said that they found him dead in his cell and he was on hunger strike and they covered up the crime.”

As Kaye goes on to discuss, the facts presented in the reports and the circumstances surrounding the case don’t seem to add up. While this information cannot disprove the suicide theory, it does provide strong evidence that warrants further investigation into the nature of these deaths.

As UN rapporteur Philip Alston noted in confidential communication concerning the equally suspicious deaths at Guantánamo in 2006:

When the State detains an individual, it is held to a heightened level of diligence in protecting that individual’s rights. As a consequence, when an individual dies in State custody, there is a presumption of State responsibility…

In order to overcome the presumption of State responsibility for a death in custody, there must be a “thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of all suspected cases of extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions, including cases where complaints by relatives or other reliable reports suggest unnatural death in the above circumstances.”

It has been clear for years that the Bush administration paid little attention to international law concerning human rights in the operation of Guantánamo Bay. Though President Obama ran on claims that he would not follow in his predecessor’s footsteps, he has repeatedly refused to hold torturers accountable for their crimes and has failed to follow through on his promise to close Guantánamo. And his signing of the National Defense Authorization Act 2012, demonstrates that the current administration has in fact expanded the government’s power to ignore international standards of basic human rights.

Although prisoners, by definition, are not afforded all the privileges of free citizens, they are assured certain rights by the Constitution and the moral standards of the community. These rights include prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and the right to due process of law. However, recent polls from the Washington Post suggest that 70 percent of Americans approve of President Obama’s decision to keep Guantánamo Bay open. Without public support, the chances for a fair, impartial investigation into the treatment of detainees seems unlikely at best.

Political opposites unite against the NDAA

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm by

The Occupy movement and the Tea Party are seemingly polar opposites on the American political spectrum, and with partisan politics bringing federal and state legislatures to a standstill, one could be forgiven for presuming that Occupiers and Tea Partiers would never think of working together. But thankfully for our constitutional rights, that assumption would be wrong.

Across the country, people are coming together from opposite sides of the political universe to demand that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and its unconstitutional detention provisions be repealed or nullified. The following video shows just one example of these strange bedfellows, when local Occupy activists stood alongside area Tea Party representatives for a joint demonstration in Medford, OR.

News Digest 4/2/12

Monday, April 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

News Digest 3/30/12

Friday, March 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm by