U.S. says plaintiffs in Hedges v. Obama face no threat of detention

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The journalists and activists who sued the U.S. government to stop the indefinite military detention of terrorism suspects lack standing because they've never been detained and face no threat of detention, the government says.

The government filed its opening brief (.pdf) Nov. 6 in Hedges v. Obama before the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Last month, the court ordered (.pdf) a stay of a lower court's decision to block the fiscal 2012 national defense authorization act statute that allows indefinite detention.

The NDAA allows indefinite detention of al Qaeda, Taliban and associated forces. The district court that ruled in September against enforcement of the statute misunderstood the term "associated forces," the brief says.

"The term is well understood to cover cobelligerent groups that fight together with al-Qaeda or Taliban forces in the armed conflict against the United States," and it is not and cannot be "read to cover the types of unarmed advocacy organizations involved in this suit," the defendants say.

They also note that none of the plaintiffs allege having a fear of detention, nor have they offered any evidence of the U.S. military detaining journalists or advocates.

"There is no actual or imminent injury to be redressed," the brief says.

Additionally, there is no precedent for hearing a lawsuit to block the president in advance from conducting an armed conflict using congressionally conferred authority, the defendants say.

For more:
- download the government's opening brief in Hedges v. Obama (.pdf)

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