Sunday, January 1, 2012

Obama inks controversial defense bill

US President Barack Obama

Source: Press TV

US President Barack Obama has signed a bill into law that expands the US military authority over terrorist suspects, denying US citizens their constitutional rights.

The National Defense Authorization Act provides USD 662 billion in funding for military spending, including military pay raises, weapon system and funding for the war in Afghanistan in 2012.

The measure, which passed by wide majority in Congress, says the US military has the power to detain terrorist suspects without trial for as long as the so-called US global anti-terror campaign is waged.

The bill contains several provisions that rights groups and advocates have vehemently opposed, arguing that they could allow indefinite detention and interrogation of US citizens and non-citizens suspected of being linked to terrorism and deny them legal rights protected by the constitution.

In a statement accompanying his signature, the US president expressed “serious reservations” about provisions related to the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists, saying that he might not strictly follow certain requirements spelled out in the new law.

“My administration will interpret and implement the provisions … in a manner that best preserves the flexibility on which our safety depends and upholds the values on which this country was founded," Obama said.

"I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens," Obama said. “Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”

The bill also bans the use of government money to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States, again in an attempt to force the administration to try them in military rather than civil courts.

The White House initially threatened to veto the legislation, but it dropped the warning after Congress made last-minute changes.

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said “by signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.”

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