Last October, a group of lawyers, plaintiffs and activists involved in the lawsuit against the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) and its indefinite detention provisions held a live chat on Reddit. This group included Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg and Tangerine Bolen (plaintiff and lawsuit coordinator, director of RevolutionTruth) among others. I'm just posting some of the highlights here, because I think they are worth hearing - and not everyone wants to wade through the entire chat log. (But you can if you want to.)
Here are some of the highlights:
Question: "I recently read that Julian Assange has been designated an enemy by the US military(...) doesn't this mean that supporters of Assange (financial supporters especially) could be indefinitely detained by the military?"
Tangerine Bolen replies: ...Yes, of course, if JA is an enemy of the state, then yes, the NYT could be considered to have communicated with the enemy. And perhaps the NDAA is a way to finally nail him.
Question: Does the individual citizen currently have any right to fight and resist arrest under the NDAA as perPlummer v. State?
Chris Hedges replies: no
Q: if one IS indefinitely detained then it's too late; you're gone and not in a position to exercise any rights. Can anyone in the know comment on this please?
PS: Also, if no one knows for certain what happened to you or where you were taken, then they would be unable to assist you or even to locate you."
Chris Hedges: you nailed it. It is called being "disappeared." And that is why it is so dangerous.
Q: What can we possibly do to every find out if these provisions have already been used? As I understand the government has refused to comply with court ordered requests on this matter.
Chris Hedges: nothing. there is no way to find out.
Q: "Given the tide of outrageous acts by the U.S. government, do you think change is even possible through existing public institutions?
Daniel Ellsberg: "I'm going to act for the rest of my life as if as it's possible. Since it's so necessary. When you say "through public institutions," obviously it will take enormous pressure by citizens on those institutions to change the way they operate. Every non-violent tactic that was used to put a lid on the Vietnam war and eventually shorten it is needed now, and that certainly includes massive civil disobedience, but it also includes the full range of public education, including organizing, lobbying, even letter-writing to congress and even (though many dispair of this), electoral activity and voting. The notion that it makes no difference who is in office is, in my opinion, mistaken. There's no question that that the two parties are both corrupt and imperialist. But, one is even worse than the other.
Virtually every public institution has failed us gravely. Not only the executive, but the courts, congress, most of the media and most of the churches. Radical reform is needed, even to the point of non-violent revolution. There was most recently - I mean, eleven years ago - what amounted to an executive coup against the constitution and this has had the complicity of both parties in congress and the media. The prospects of climate change and the continued of nuclear war actually bode ill for the survival of the human species, but as I said, I am going to act, and I hope that others will act, as if there is a possibility of averting our extinction."
Chris Hedges says: yes, this transcends the left-right divide which is why Ron Paul and people like Alex Jones, who I have some profound disagreements with, get it.
Chris Hedges says: I am voting for a third party candidate and putting my faith in civil disobedience, including the Oct. 7 protests at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by Veterans for Peace at 55 Water Street in NY City.
Q: Mr. Ellsberg... My question is what do you think we as Occupiers and a much younger generation can do more effectively to get people to care about things like the NDAA? What do you think, as someone who was on the inside, concerns the elite power structure the most about our movement? What are the things that don't concern them about our movement
Daniel Ellsberg: The OWS did have this element of occupation and civil disobedience which resulted in it being taken seriously. I do have a feeling that the principled lack of leadership and specific demands has been a shortcoming. I have to say that I think there were some points in the anti-war movement and in the womens' movement a determination not to have any leaders or formal representation and I believe, in retrospect, that this did not serve the movement well. They would have to well to have some spokespersons and coordinated on some specific demands, in my opinion.
There have been specific occasions when a general strike would have been the most effective thing that could have been done, and where the circumstances justified it. For example, the stealing of the election in Florida in 2000, with the mobs in Miami and the SCOTUS decision was a perfect occasion for a general strike. I would say that an impending attack on Iran would be another, although, admittedly, administration propaganda has made that most unlikely. The Moratorium in 1969 which was actually a weekday general strike, had the effect of preventing Nixon from carrying out escalation in Vietnam that included the possible use of nuclear weapons. We didn't now at the time that he had made a secret ultimatum to this effect so we didn't know that the weekday work stoppage had any affect at all, but it actually prolonged the Moratorium on nuclear attacks for another 40 years. Ever since, I've felt that there should be planning and organization that would make such an action possible again.
Chris Hedges (Re: OWS): I think the power of the movement is that it does not have an identifiable leader. This gives it more creativity and resilence, although also more chaos.
Daniel Ellsberg (Addressing the same Q re: OWS): In effect, I answered this earlier. It is my opinion that the civil rights movement benefited greatly from its leadership, and that that is a good model to follow.
Cybersquire (attorney): Yes, we believe that the NDAA, if not stopped, could be used to target Occupy protesters. Several of the plaintiffs, including Kai Wargalla, Chris, Tangerine Bolen and Alexa O'Brien were involved with Occupy Wall Street and they suffered surveillance and targeting because of their involvement.
Tangerine Bolen says: yes, we did have a chilling effect and we did show that in court. For example, Kai Wargalla, Birgitta Jonsdottir and I had all significantly changed how we go about our work due to this law. ... Moreover, RevTruth had an entire Middle Eastern panel series planned (we produce and I'm the host of livestreaming panels with well known and lesser known panelists). We planned to invite members of Hamas, Iraqi citizens, Afghan people, and Egyptians who fought to overthrow Mubarak on to our panels. We cancelled all of those in fear of the NDAA.
Daniel Ellsberg: I think Bradley Manning is a great American patriot, and a hero of mine.
Although predictably, he has been called a traitor, he can't be tried for treason because our constitution limits the charge of treason to one who "makes war against the United States", or, "adhering to its enemies," gives them aid and support. Manning is charged, absurdly, under military law as having given aid and support to our enemies, but without any element of intent in the charge. I would say that charge is clearly unconstitutional. Obviously, Manning no more "adheres" to the Taliban or al-Queda or any foreign enemy any more than I "adhered" to the Viet-Cong or the government of North Vietnam. By the way, that definition of treason was put in the constitution precisely so that the charge of treason could not be broadened without a constitutional amendment. It's the only crime which is defined in the constitution, and that's the reason. Every one of our founders was charged with treason under British law. Our country was founded by "traitors" who found in themselves a different loyalty than they had earlier held to the British monarch.
If the NDAA had been law in 1971, the Nixon administration would not have needed to expand the espionage act to cover leaking. They could have put me in military custody for indefinite detention without even bringing charges. I could have been held in Quantico (where Bradley Manning was held in isolation) or Guantanamo to this day.
Another point: my trial was ended and charges were dropped because of criminal acts taken against me by Nixon (which were a major factor in his impeachment proceedings that led to his resignation). Those acts, my judge held, formed a pattern of governmental misconduct, "which offends a sense of justice." Bradley Manning's ten months of isolation - amounting to torture - along with the statement by the Commander in Chief that he was "guilty," even before his trial, and his three years of incarceration prior to trial certainly "offend a sense of justice" even more egregiously than in my case, and he should be released on those grounds immediately.