President Obama today signed the highly controversial Defense Spending Bill. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with its so-called Homeland Battlefield provisions, allows, according to many legal scholars, the indefinite detention of US citizens by the US military. What is most striking is a lengthy signing statement by Obama, in which he maintains his reservations about the Homeland Battlefield provisions, saying, ‘I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.’ His defense of civil liberties in the signing statement was passionate. Nonetheless, at the same moment, he signed the bill into law. — ma/RSN
resident Obama signed on Saturday the defense authorization bill, formally ending weeks of heated debate in Congress and intense lobbying by the administration to strip controversial provisions requiring the transfer of some terror suspects to military custody.
“I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” Obama said in a statement accompanying his signature.
The White House had originally threatened to veto the $662 billion bill, considered must-pass legislation, over the language that requires mandatory military custody for suspects linked to al-Qaida or its affiliates, even if they are captured in the U.S. Just before the House and Senate passed the bill comfortably, the White House said it would support the bill’s compromise language that, as tweaked by conference committee, would not impede the administration’s ability to collect intelligence or incapacitate dangerous terrorists.
Still, administration officials have admitted publicly the final provisions were not the preferred approach of this administration.