President Obama may have rescinded his threat to veto a defense bill containing restrictions on transferring detainees out of military prisons including Guantanamo Bay, but he attached a signing statement to the bill allowing him to keep the constitutional power to override the law.
Lawmakers in Congress added the limits on detainee transfers in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, which was approved in December according to the New York Times.
Obama signed the bill despite his objections regarding detainees. In the statement, he declared that the provision “could interfere with my ability as commander in chief to make time-sensitive determinations about the appropriate disposition of detainees in an active area of hostilities.”
The President promised in his first term to close the prison in Cuba, but has failed to do so. Officials within the government are unsure as to his intentions regarding the signing statement, says the New York Times.
“The administration blames Congress for making it harder to close Guantanamo, yet for a second year President Obama has signed damaging Congressional restrictions into law,” says Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch.
Last year, the American Bar Association sent a letter to Obama objecting to the use of signing statements, urging him to veto bills instead if he finds them unconstitutional. The American Bar Association is a JAS partner organization.