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DOJ appeals injunction of indefinite detention law

The US Department of Justice [official website] on Friday filed an appeal of this week's order by the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] that permanently enjoined [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] a law allowing US authorities to detain indefinitely anyone suspected of having aided known terrorist organizations. Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [text, PDF] affirms the authority of the president under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to detain indefinitely any "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." The US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York [official website] filed for review of the ruling [Bloomberg report] of Judge Katherine Forrest, who struck down the law as vague and ambiguous in its terms and "unconstitutionally overbroad" in that it "purports to encompass protected First Amendment activities." Several civil rights groups have praised the court's decision and have circulated petitions [advocacy website] arguing that the government should not appeal the injunction.

Forrest issued an injunction against the law in May, and clarified in the following weeks that her injunction should be interpreted broadly [JURIST reports]. Lawyers for the government filed their appeal [JURIST report] with the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] in August. US President Barack Obama signed the NDAA into law [JURIST report] on December 31, 2011. Upon signing, he noted [statement], "I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation." Both houses of Congress reached an agreement [JURIST report] on the language of the NDAA's most controversial sections in mid-December.

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