President Barack Obama is still in Hawaii on vacation, but, yesterday, he managed to sign the $662-billion National Defense Authorization Act — a bill that has generated a fair share of controversy in the Capitol city. Even as he signed the bill, Obama added to the drama; he included a statement with his signature to express that he still has “serious reservations” about it. The Christian Science Monitor reports:
President Barack Obama signed a wide-ranging defense bill into law Saturday despite having “serious reservations” about provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.
The bill also applies penalties against Iran‘s central bank in an effort to hamper Tehran‘s ability to fund its nuclear enrichment program. The Obama administration is looking to soften the impact of those penalties because of concerns that they could lead to a spike in global oil prices or cause economic hardship on U.S. allies that import petroleum from Iran.
In a statement accompanying his signature, the president chastised some lawmakers for what he contended was their attempts to use the bill to restrict the ability of counterterrorism officials to protect the country.
Administration officials said Obama was only signing the measure because Congress made minimally acceptable changes that no longer challenged the president’s terrorism-fighting ability.
The controversy that has surrounded the NDAA is similar to outrage about the Patriot Act, as civil liberties groups and noted libertarians (Ron Paul!) have said that the provision that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects — even U.S. citizens arrested in the U.S. — without charge deprives citizens of due process.
With his qualified signature, the president tried to play it both ways — to authorize needed funds for the military and yet address the concerns of opponents of the bill. But it doesn’t seem to have worked. Almost all the comments on the #NDAA Twitter stream are outraged — and the fact that he signed it New Year’s Eve, when revelers were highly unlikely to notice, just adds to the irritation.