Noam Chomsky, in the photo receiving a gift from a Muslim leader in the West Bank, is an American intelectual and well known linguistic from MIT. He often questions the US's role in the world, imposing his views and will at any costs. He writes articles and gives speeches in varios forums, often criticizing the government for its national and foreign policies against the most vulnerable, like minorities, including the Arabs, the poor and the undocummented.
Could he be a terrorist, a person who threatens national security because of his views? No, he is not, ruled a federal judge last month in a case that highlighted the scope of the controversial National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 which authorizes the indefinite military detention of of people who are 'part of or substantially supported of al Qaeda, the Taliban or another forces.'
Ten years after the September 11 attacks on US soild, the government still has the authority to reach its arms to lock up and detain civilians in military confinement if considered a threat to security.
And this happens in the country where freedom of speech is engraved in the Constitution. Under this law, folks like Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi have been accused of plotting a terrorist attack.
But not everybody is like Padilla and Hamdi.
A few journalists, thinkers and intellectuals felt this had to stop and sued, claiming that the NDAA law was so broad and vague, that they feared their writing and activities may put them in military detention. Among them, Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg.
The goverment argued with force that the law is right, that they have the right to proceed in the name of national security. Furthermore, they said that folks like the plaintiffs were never detained.
But the judge, Katherine Forrest, pressed on this and the government attorneys could not guaranteed that such a thing would happen against folks like Chomsky and Ellsberg. They simply wanted to maintain this option open.
The judge sided with the plaintiffs and preliminarily stopped the law's enforcement against the plaintiffs. The government is poised to appeal and the case may end up in the Appeal Court, and possibly the Supreme Court.
Freedom of assembly and speech is a central part of our way of democratic life. In fact, the US always criticizes other governments when they abolish these rights.
But we are a country of laws, and this time, it sided with the people.