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Obama NDAA Signing Statement

Obama NDAA Signing Statement

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Published by Peggy Satterfield

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Published by: Peggy Satterfield on Jul 13, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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President Obama on Dec. 31 signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act,which will provide $662 billion in defense funding in 2012. The White House released the following signing statement from the president to accompany the legislation: 
Today I have signed into law H.R. 1540, the "NationalDefense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012." I havesigned the Act chiefly because it authorizes funding forthe defense of the United States and its interests abroad,crucial services for service members and their families,and vital national security programs that must be renewed.In hundreds of separate sections totaling over 500 pages,the Act also contains critical Administration initiativesto control the spiraling health care costs of theDepartment of Defense (DoD), to develop counterterrorisminitiatives abroad, to build the security capacity ofkey partners, to modernize the force, and to boost theefficiency and effectiveness of military operationsworldwide. The fact that I support this bill as a whole doesnot mean I agree with everything in it. In particular, Ihave signed this bill despite having serious reservationswith certain provisions that regulate the detention,interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.Over the last several years, my Administration hasdeveloped an effective, sustainable framework for thedetention, interrogation and trial of suspected terroriststhat allows us to maximize both our ability to collectintelligence and to incapacitate dangerous individuals inrapidly developing situations, and the results we haveachieved are undeniable. Our success against al-Qa'ida andits affiliates and adherents has derived in significantmeasure from providing our counterterrorism professionalswith the clarity and flexibility they need to adapt tochanging circumstances and to utilize whichever authoritiesbest protect the American people, and our accomplishmentshave respected the values that make our country an examplefor the world.Against that record of success, some in Congresscontinue to insist upon restricting the options availableto our counterterrorism professionals and interferingwith the very operations that have kept us safe. MyAdministration has consistently opposed such measures.Ultimately, I decided to sign this bill not only because
of the critically important services it provides forour forces and their families and the national securityprograms it authorizes, but also because the Congressrevised provisions that otherwise would have jeopardizedthe safety, security, and liberty of the American people.Moving forward, my Administration will interpret andimplement the provisions described below in a manner thatbest preserves the flexibility on which our safety dependsand upholds the values on which this country was founded. Section 1021 affirms the executive branch's authorityto detain persons covered by the 2001 Authorization for Useof Military Force (AUMF) (Public Law 107-40; 50 U.S.C. 1541note).This section breaks no new ground and is unnecessary.The authority it describes was included in the 2001 AUMF,as recognized by the Supreme Court and confirmed throughlower court decisions since then. Two critical limitationsin section 1021 confirm that it solely codifies establishedauthorities. First, under section 1021(d), the billdoes not "limit or expand the authority of the Presidentor the scope of the Authorization for Use of MilitaryForce." Second, under section 1021(e), the bill may notbe construed to affect any "existing law or authoritiesrelating to the detention of United States citizens, lawfulresident aliens of the United States, or any other personswho are captured or arrested in the United States." MyAdministration strongly supported the inclusion of theselimitations in order to make clear beyond doubt that thelegislation does nothing more than confirm authorities thatthe Federal courts have recognized as lawful under the 2001AUMF. Moreover, I want to clarify that my Administrationwill not authorize the indefinite military detentionwithout trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe thatdoing so would break with our most important traditionsand values as a Nation. My Administration will interpretsection 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention itauthorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war,and all other applicable law. Section 1022 seeks to require military custodyfor a narrow category of non-citizen detainees whoare "captured in the course of hostilities authorizedby the Authorization for Use of Military Force." This
section is ill-conceived and will do nothing to improvethe security of the United States. The executive branchalready has the authority to detain in military custodythose members of al-Qa'ida who are captured in the courseof hostilities authorized by the AUMF, and as Commanderin Chief I have directed the military to do so whereappropriate. I reject any approach that would mandatemilitary custody where law enforcement provides the bestmethod of incapacitating a terrorist threat. While section1022 is unnecessary and has the potential to createuncertainty, I have signed the bill because I believe thatthis section can be interpreted and applied in a mannerthat avoids undue harm to our current operations. I have concluded that section 1022 provides theminimally acceptable amount of flexibility to protectnational security. Specifically, I have signed thisbill on the understanding that section 1022 provides theexecutive branch with broad authority to determine how bestto implement it, and with the full and unencumbered abilityto waive any military custody requirement, including theoption of waiving appropriate categories of cases whendoing so is in the national security interests of theUnited States. As my Administration has made clear, theonly responsible way to combat the threat al-Qa'ida posesis to remain relentlessly practical, guided by the factualand legal complexities of each case and the relativestrengths and weaknesses of each system. Otherwise,investigations could be compromised, our authorities tohold dangerous individuals could be jeopardized, andintelligence could be lost. I will not tolerate thatresult, and under no circumstances will my Administrationaccept or adhere to a rigid across-the-board requirementfor military detention. I will therefore interpret andimplement section 1022 in the manner that best preservesthe same flexible approach that has served us so wellfor the past 3 years and that protects the ability oflaw enforcement professionals to obtain the evidence andcooperation they need to protect the Nation. My Administration will design the implementationprocedures authorized by section 1022(c) to providethe maximum measure of flexibility and clarity to ourcounterterrorism professionals permissible under law. AndI will exercise all of my constitutional authorities as

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