Earlier this week, Institute Senior Fellow and Nation Books author announced that he was suing the US President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in an attempt to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force present in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act. Obama signed the NDAA on new year's eve. In a Truthdig column, Hedges explained his motives:
The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled "Counter-Terrorism," for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until "the end of hostilities." It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.
Section 1301 of the NDAA defines those who are subject to this detention in extremely vague terms, "a person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, 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 such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces." It does not define what substantial support entials, what is meant by associated forces, or what direct support is. This provides an overly broad umbrella, under which Hedges himself, during his years as a war correspondent for The New York Times, might have been subject to detention.
A few paragraphs later, Hedges said:
I suspect the real purpose of this bill is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state. 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. Consider the arcane criteria that can make you a suspect in our new military-corporate state. The Department of Justice considers you worth investigating if you are missing a few fingers, if you have weatherproof ammunition, if you own guns or if you have hoarded more than seven days of food in your house. Adding a few of the obstructionist tactics of the Occupy movement to this list would be a seamless process. On the whim of the military, a suspected "terrorist" who also happens to be a U.S. citizen can suffer extraordinary rendition—being kidnapped and then left to rot in one of our black sites "until the end of hostilities." Since this is an endless war that will be a very long stay.
This demented "war on terror" is as undefined and vague as such a conflict is in any totalitarian state. Dissent is increasingly equated in this country with treason. Enemies supposedly lurk in every organization that does not chant the patriotic mantras provided to it by the state. And this bill feeds a mounting state paranoia. It expands our permanent war to every spot on the globe. It erases fundamental constitutional liberties. It means we can no longer use the word "democracy" to describe our political system.
On January 17, Hedges and his lawyer, Carl Mayer, were interviewed on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman about the lawsuit. Goodman remarked to Hedges that Obama had initially said he would veto the bill. Hedges responded:
President Obama said he was going to veto it, but we now know from leaks out of Levin's office that that's because the executive branch wanted to decide. They wanted the power to decide who would be tried, who would be granted exemptions. It wasn't actually about the assault against due process.
And I think we have to ask, if the security establishment did not want this bill, and the FBI Director Mueller actually goes to Congress and says publicly they don't want it, why did it pass? What pushed it through?
Earlier today the website Policy Mic weighed in (the first of many to do so, undoubtedly), being pessimistic about Hedges' chances of success. "The prospect of Hedges' success is slim. While Hedges' effort is noble and necessary, it is nearly impossible that he will succeed on his own."