President Obama’s recent objection to the indefinite military detention of terrorism suspects conflicts with the reality of how his administration is already operating overseas, according to a respected scholar on terrorism law.
Obama signed off on the $600 billion defense authorization bill over the Christmas holiday, but added in a so-called signing statement that he has “serious reservations” about the provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.
The measure allows the military to take custody of some foreign detainees captured during battle, a tactic the president called “ill-conceived” and said will “do nothing to improve the security of the United States.”
“I want to clarify that my administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens,” Obama said in the signing statement. “Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.”
Prof. Jeff Addicott, director of the Terrorism Law Center at St. Mary’s University School of Law, said the Obama administration is already detaining hundreds of suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at another detention facility at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
“Congress is not giving him any power that he is not already exercising,” Addicott told HUMAN EVENTS.
“It’s hypocritical and schizophrenic [to protest] what Congress has authorized him to do and already doing at Bagram Air Force base—detaining hundreds of detainees. He is so embroiled in politics, he has confused the issue beyond all recognition,” Addicott said.
“It is really bizarre he would object to the authorization when he is already using this authorization,” Addicott said. “He plays to that issue while on the other hand using the same exact legal authority that the Bush administration used, which he demonized in his first two years of his administration. He does the same thing, he just does it under the radar and calls it illegal, and he gets away with it. And no one is calling him on it.”
By signing the bill into law and adding the signing statement, Obama can claim to circumvent those provisions.
Obama pledged during his presidential campaign he would not use signing statements. However, he has issued nearly 20 since taking office.
Obama also made a campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay, which holds detainees accused of participating in the September 11 terrorist attacks, but has since decided to keep the facility open.