This Is Important, You Should Know About It of the Day: President Obama today quietly signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which contains controversial provisions requiring military custody for any non-citizen suspected of terrorism and affirming the president’s authority to indefinitely detain any supporter of al-Qaeda “or associated forces, irrespective of citizenship.
In a signing statement, the President said he had “serious reservations” about the bill, and criticised lawmakers for interfering with the work of counterterrorism professionals.
“Moving forward, my administration will interpret and implement the provisions described below in a manner that best preserves the flexibility on which our safety depends and upholds the values on which this country was founded,” the statement said.
The Obama administration was successful in striking down a provision that would have removed the ability of the executive branch to override the military custody requirement. Additionally, US citizens and legal immigrants may not be subjected to military custody under the revised bill.
However, an amendment to explicitly exclude American citizens and lawful residents from indefinite detention was rejected by Congress.
“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 President’s personal stance aside, in addition to creating myriad difficulties for counterterrorism agents working with suspected terrorists to gain information, the NDAA provisions leave the door wide open for future presidents to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial.