President Obama’s decision to not veto the defense authorization bill, which “would codify indefinite detention without trial into U.S. law for the first time since the McCarthy era,” is a “historic tragedy,” Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
Human Rights Watch’s executive director said in the written statement, “By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law.”
The rights organization compared the controversial National Defense Authorization Bill, which Obama has indicated he will sign, to the 1950 Internal Security Act, which President Truman vetoed and Congress pushed through on an override. —PZS
Human Rights Watch:
(Washington, DC) – US President Barack Obama’s apparent decision to not veto a defense spending bill that codifies indefinite detention without trial into US law and expands the military’s role in holding terrorism suspects does enormous damage to the rule of law both in the US and abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. The Obama administration had threatened to veto the bill, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), over detainee provisions, but on December 14, 2011, issued a statement indicating the president would likely sign the legislation.
“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”
The far-reaching detainee provisions would codify indefinite detention without trial into US law for the first time since the McCarthy era when Congress in 1950 overrode the veto of then-President Harry Truman and passed the Internal Security Act. The bill would also bar the transfer of detainees currently held at Guantanamo into the US for any reason, including for trial. In addition, it would extend restrictions, imposed last year, on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to home or third countries – even those cleared for release by the administration.
White House / Pete Souza