Last Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an emergency appeal of U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest's permanent block on section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which may allow for indefinite detainment of American citizens. The DOJ is currently asking the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay until they rule on Forrest's verdict, which argued that the NDAA is unconstitutional under the First and Fifth Amendments.
Meanwhile, for the edification of media bias watchers, here's a marvelous example that the mainstream press is, as former Reasonoid Radley Balko posited, authoritarian, not liberal. Turns out the paper that (sort of) brought down Richard Nixon and opposes torture and is generally thought to be left-leaning, therefore half right from a libertarian point of view, well, The Washington Post editorial board is siding cozily with the Obama administration in the NDAA lawsuit.
It's tempting to ask whether the Post would be so breezy about a potentially dystopian — more than Gitmo already is, mind — use of power by a Republican president. And maybe not. But, Media Matters argued in February, the paper is not exactly batting .300 for liberal — much less libertarian, even the civil variety —principles. They may be down on torture, but they're not keen on punishing Bush officials who let it happen and it seems that the ability to indefinitely detain even American citizens is not something that keeps the paper up at night. Yep, the Post is taking the same view that the Obama administration does, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Act already allowed for the powers granted in the NDAA, therefore Judge Forrester's ruling "smacks of judicial activism."
Judge Forrest's ruling, issued before any individual had been so much as threatened with detention, let alone actually detained, strikes us as an overreaction. May the administration's appeal of the judge's ruling prosper.
The stance of The Washington Post editorial board seems to be that the prudent, constitutional thing is to wait until an American is seriously threatened with detainment until the end of this unending war on terror. Then, and only then, but maybe not then, would it be reasonable to object to the powers granted. Forrest, writes the board, is to be scolded for "her uncritical acceptance of the plaintiffs' claims — and equally summary dismissal of the administration's protestations of good faith." Forget watchdog press, even if this is a lapdog press, the lapdog has been lulled to sleep.
This attitude is not new, and it's not unique to the left or right; that the potential for overreaction or paranoia is more threatening than government action itself. Not to mention, The Washington Post also defended the nasty Kelo v. New London (2005) decision that allowed private developers to take property for eminent domain purposes.
In a pleasant surprise, The New York Times editorial board, who have previously defended policies as nasty as Kelo applauded Forrest's decision as correct, blaming the government for not actually outlining their claimed right to detain and how far it goes. Still, this Post editorial demonstrates one more reason to eagerly await the downfall of some of the journalism standards. After all, The Christian Science-Monitor editorial board welcomes more and harsher crackdowns on marijuana usage, particularly the medical variety. Authoritarians have the right to free speech as well, but you have to wonder what motivates these writers in the morning when they sit down to yet again agree with government overreach and encourage it to impede even farther into all our lives. And hell, if the biggest newspapers aren't on the side of the First Amendment, what good are they?