Washington State Challenges NDAA U.S. Citizen Detention Law With State Bill
(MintPress) – The “Washington State Preservation of Liberty Act” (H.B. 1581) introduced Wednesday condemns and criminalizes the use of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill authorizing the federal government to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens.
The bill has set off a firestorm of online support within the activist community, persuading 20 state legislators to co-sponsor the bill. If passed into law, H.B. 1581 could set up a major battle pitting the state of Washington against the Obama administration.
The contentious National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains a “homeland battlefield provision” allowing the Federal government to potentially imprison any U.S. citizen indefinitely, without charge or due process of law.
Any U.S. citizen deemed to have “substantially supported” al-Qaeda or its allies could be sent to a penal colony, like Guantanamo Bay prison. Critics charge that the vague use of “substantially supporting” could create situations where journalists, academics and researchers contacting known terrorists for legitimate purposes, like interviews, could be sent to prison for their professional work.
A driving force behind the Washington Bill came from individuals on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites. After an outpouring of public support, the number of state representatives co-sponsoring the bill tripled, gathering a total of 20 co-sponsors — 11 Republicans and nine Democrats.
The strong bipartisan support for H.B. 1581 shows the degree to which all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, see the NDAA as a threat to civil liberties in the United States.
Washington state’s Preservation of Liberty Act has now been referred to its House Committee on Public Safety and awaits final approval before its passage into law.
This occurred at the same time another challenge was taking place in a New York Federal court Wednesday — with plaintiffs carrying out a legal challenge to the NDAA.
Three judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals questioned both sides in oral arguments this week, but have not rendered a verdict on the legality of the case.
Bruce Afran, a lawyer for those challenging the NDAA, criticized the “dictatorial” powers in court saying that “if this power is upheld, it means that Americans can be subject to military imprisonment.”
Wednesday’s hearing continues a protracted legal battle pitting a group of activists, led by Chris Hedges, against the Obama administration. Other prominent supporters of Hedges’ challenge include feminist author Naomi Wolf and professor Noam Chomsky.
The present legal battle occurred after U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest struck down the indefinite detention language as an unconstitutional assault on protected free speech in a September ruling. Lawyers for the Obama administration filed an emergency appeal, claiming that the ruling would harm national security.
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