Come on: Times Reporter Calls Tea Party 'Conservative,' But Noam Chomsky Is Merely a 'Dissident Thinker'?

New York Times legal reporter Charlie Savage showed his usual labeling blindness in Friday's piece on strange political bedfellow that oppose indefinite detention: "House to Consider Proposal to Bar Indefinite Detention After Arrests on U.S. Soil."

Savage again showed himself unwilling to label far-left figures like Noam Chomsky as far-left, but has no problem calling the Tea Party "conservative." In the past he has termed the far-left Center for Constitutional Rights "civil libertarians" and "a group of human rights lawyers." Friday he wrote:

The House is preparing to vote again on an unresolved legal controversy: whether the military may imprison terrorism suspects captured on United States soil without trial. The renewed debate comes as a federal judge has enjoined the government from enforcing a statute codifying the government’s powers of indefinite detention.

Lawmakers are considering amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act. One of them, sponsored by Representative Adam Smith of Washington, a Democrat, and Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a Republican, would scale back a highly contested provision about indefinite detention created in last year’s version of the law, by saying it does not apply to domestic arrests.


It is uncertain whether there is enough support to enact the Smith-Amash amendment, which would also have to clear the Senate. The debate last year prompted an ideologically diverse outcry against the possibility of using indefinite detention on American soil, fueled in part by Tea Party conservatives. And this week a court ruling called the indefinite detention provision into question.


On Wednesday, Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Southern District of New York issued a preliminary injunction blocking the government from enforcing the provision. She said the vagueness of the statute -- including what counts as the kind of “support” that could lead someone to be detained -- probably violated First and Fifth Amendment rights.

The plaintiffs included Chris Hedges, a journalist who writes extensively about terrorism issues and interacts with terrorists as part of his reporting. Other plaintiffs included the dissident thinker Noam Chomsky and several supporters of WikiLeaks.

Judge Forrest, whom Mr. Obama appointed last year, noted that Justice Department lawyers repeatedly declined to say that the plaintiffs’ conduct would not make them subject to being detained. Her ruling was celebrated by civil liberties advocates as an unexpected victory for individual rights in an era in which courts have largely acquiesced to sweeping claims of national security powers by the government.

Hedges is a former Times reporter whose anti-American ranting got him unplugged from a commencement address in 2003. He now writes for the far-left Truthdig website, while Noam Chomsky's anti-Americanism and notorious denial of mass genocide by the Communist Khmer Rouge in Cambodia are well known. Yet to Savage Hedges is merely a journalist, and Chomsky a "dissident thinker" – one of those "dissident thinkers" long-admired by vast numbers of university professors and students.