Chris Hedges v. Barack Obama

January 23, 2014

Gun Owners Foundation helped file our third amicus brief in support of Chris Hedges and the other journalists and political activists who are challenging Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (, and its authorization of the military detention of civilians based on vague standards of providing "support" for an adversary of the United States.

These NDAA standards were so vague that when asked, the U.S. Justice Department refused to say that Chris Hedges and the other plaintiffs could not be arrested by the military, e.g., for their reporting on middle eastern affairs, which includes interviews with, and even embeds with, foreign organizations.

This brief (in conjunction with other plaintiffs) was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, urging that it grant certiorari and review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit determined that the plaintiffs did not have standing to challenge detention, as the NDAA statute did not really say what it appeared to say, and that it was a nullity as to American Citizens. The Second Circuit left unaddressed whether American citizens could be detained by the military under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force ( passed hurriedly after the events of September 11, 2001.

Our brief explained why the Court needs to address the issue of military detention of civilians. It explained that NDAA 2012 was fundamentally different from the AUMF. It explains that laws are often written in an ambiguous manner to give politicians deniability when called to account by their constituents. And it discussed how why NDAA 2012 eliminated the protections of the U.S. Constitution's treason clause.


Our brief states:

"If this Court does not grant the petition, there is no reason to believe that U.S. Presidents would cease to assert "the right to place certain individuals [including American citizens] in military detention, without trial." Id. There would continue to be no statutory constraint on an arrest being authorized by a military officer of unspecified rank. There would be no protection provided by the requirement of a Grand Jury indictment. There would be no requirement of an arrest warrant issued by an Article III judge, supported by a sworn affidavit showing probable cause of the commission of a specific crime. Neither would there be any protection against use of compelled testimony, or against any violation of due process of law. There would be no civilian proceedings whatsoever against the person detained. Indeed, there is no requirement that the individual being detained has committed any federal crime, and military detentions could be used to circumvent the protections afforded American citizens by the Treason Clause of the U.S. Constitution."

Our brief concluded:

"Ninety years ago, Franz Kafka gave the world a glimpse into the terror faced by individuals required to prove their innocence against unspecified charges in a world devoid of the rule of law. See F. Kafka, The Trial (1925). No American citizen should be subject to secret arrest and indefinite detention by the military, exempt from the protections of the Bill of Rights, and made even more terrifying by the threat of rendition to a foreign country for purposes that could include torture that is illegal in the United States."