The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 was signed into law on Thursday by President Barack Obama, even though he had threatened to veto the bill over laws that would prevent closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.
The legislation had been under fire by civil liberties advocates over Guantanamo and a separate section that could allow the military to indefinitely detain American citizens on suspicions of supporting terrorism, the Huffington Post reports
Obama said in a statement that he did not agree with everything in the 680-page bill but that the "need to renew critical defense authorities and funding was too great to ignore," the Huffington Post reports.
The legislation also set the armed forces budget at $633 billion for fiscal 2013.
"President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day,” American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement to the Post. “His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended.”
"It's the second time that the president has promised to veto a piece of a very controversial national security legislation only to sign it," Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, told the Post. "He has a habit of promising resistance to national security initiatives that he ultimately ends up supporting and enabling."
After the president’s veto threat in November, a House-Senate conference committee shortened the length of the bill's prohibition on transferring Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. to one fiscal year, instead of the open-ended ban in the original Senate version.
Obama's statement on Thursday reiterated his opposition to restrictions on when prisoners can be moved out of Guantanamo, the Post reports.
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