NDAA gets a signing statement

As expected, President Obama yesterday signed the Defense Authorization bill that largely funds the military. And as expected, this year’s NDAA came with a signing statement.

President Obama … said that although he did not support all of it, changes made by Congress after negotiations with the White House had satisfied most of his concerns and had given him enough latitude to manage counterterrorism and foreign policy in keeping with administration principles. […]

The White House had said that the legislation could lead to an improper military role in overseeing detention and court proceedings and could infringe on the president’s authority in dealing with terrorism suspects. But it said that Mr. Obama could interpret the statute in a way that would preserve his authority.

The president, for example, said that he would never authorize the indefinite military detention of American citizens, because “doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.” He also said he would reject a “rigid across-the-board requirement” that suspects be tried in military courts rather than civilian courts.

Congress dropped a provision in the House version of the bill that would have banned using civilian courts to prosecute those suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda. It also dropped a new authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda and its allies.

There are many who can speak to the merit of the White House’s arguments in far more detail than I can, but for those interested, the signing statement itself is online in its entirety.

For more background, here’s an item on the NDAA that I published a couple of weeks ago.