Demand Progress, a progressive PAC focused on civil liberties issues, has created a new way to speak out about the controversial power of the United States government to indefinitely detain supposed terrorism suspects, including Americans, based only on vaguely worded criteria.
The group's new Facebook app allows users to spread the word about indefinite detention, a controversial provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, by putting their friends, or at least their profile pictures, behind bars. Doing this shares a link containing more information on the measure, as well as a digital petition form to send to Congress.
The power of indefinite detention was granted in a short, sparsely worded section of the sweeping, 565-page National Defense Authorization Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law on New Years Eve of 2011. Section 1021, which declares that the government has the right to detain any "person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces," has prompted outrage and eventually led to a federal lawsuit, which is still mired in the court system.
In a statement, Demand Progress executive director David Segal decried the lack of coverage by mainstream outlets on indefinite detention, and said this was their effort to make the issue more visible.
"Today we launch an effort to 'hack' around them, and make sure Americans know about this extraordinary threat to our civil liberties and the Obama administration's attempts to fight a federal court's finding that indefinite detention is unconstitutional," Siegel said.
Demand Progress also helped coordinate a Reddit "Ask Me Anything", set for 12 p.m. EDT, with a number of key players in the ongoing lawsuit against indefinite detention. It will include a number of plaintiffs and lawyers who were initially successful in having the measure stricken down in a federal court earlier this year. The Obama administration appealed that ruling, however, arguing that banning indefinite detention would cause "irreparable harm" to the nation. A federal appeals court judge later put a stay on the ban until Sept. 28, when a three-judge appellate panel will hear the case.