News Column

Obama signs $633 Billion Defense Bill, Detainee Restrictions

Jan 3, 2013

President Barack Obama has signed a $633 billion defense bill for next year that tightens penalties on Iran and bolsters security at diplomatic missions worldwide after the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Obama had threatened to veto the measure because of a number of concerns, including limits on his authority to transfer terrorist suspects from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for one year.

But Obama said that although he continued to oppose certain sections of the bill, "the need to renew critical defense authorities and funding was too great to ignore."

The bill includes cuts in defense spending that the president and congressional Republicans agreed to in August 2011, along with the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan.

In a separate signing statement, issued from Hawaii on Wednesday, Obama noted that the law forbids his administration from using of taxpayers money to transfer any of the remaining 166 Guantanamo detainees to the United States "for any purpose," notably prosecution in federal courts.

The restriction, Obama said, "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."

"Removing that tool from the executive branch undermines our national security," he said. "Moreover, this provision would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles.

Source: (c)2013 The Miami Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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