Obama Signs 2013 NDAA, Blocking Closure of Gitmo

Obama initially threatened a veto, but instead signed it into law with a vague proviso

President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed into law the $633 billion defense authorization bill despite provisions that block any attempt to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and try detainees on US soil.

The 2013 NDAA authorizes funding for the war in Afghanistan, tightens sanctions against Iran, funds special forces, and boosts security at diplomatic posts abroad following the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in September, among many other things.

But the 680-page bill also renews the prohibition against transferring terror detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba to the United States for any purpose, a measure which again prevents Obama from fulfilling his pledge to close the black hole detention center.

Obama initially threatened a veto of the bill due to this provision, but the threat proved a false one. In a signing statement, Obama said he disagreed with the provision, despite his signing it into law.

“I continue to oppose this provision, which substitutes the Congress’s blanket political determination for careful and fact-based determinations, made by counterterrorism and law enforcement professionals, of when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees,” Obama wrote.

“This provision would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles. In the event that these statutory restrictions operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict,” the President added.

But human rights groups criticized Obama’s surrender.

“It’s not encouraging that the President continues to be willing to tie his own hands when it comes to closing Guantanamo,” Dixon Osburn of Human Rights First told AFP.

“The injustice of Guantanamo continues to serve as a stain on American global leadership on human rights,” he added.

Frank Jannuzi, Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA warned that “solutions for ending human rights violations, not excuses, must be found.”

“This law makes it harder for the President to fulfill his promise to close the Guantanamo detention facility, perpetuating a grave injustice against the detainees held without charge or fair trial,” he said.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.