News / USA

Obama Approves Defense Bill Despite Veto Threats

U.S. President Barack Obama looks at his notes during remarks to reporters after meeting with congressional leaders at the White House in Washington, December 28, 2012.U.S. President Barack Obama looks at his notes during remarks to reporters after meeting with congressional leaders at the White House in Washington, December 28, 2012.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama looks at his notes during remarks to reporters after meeting with congressional leaders at the White House in Washington, December 28, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama looks at his notes during remarks to reporters after meeting with congressional leaders at the White House in Washington, December 28, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a $633 billion defense bill into law, despite threats by the White House to veto the legislation because it hinders efforts to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The president expressed reservations about the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 after signing it late Wednesday in Hawaii, but said he could not stand in its way.

“Our constitution does not afford the president the opportunity to approve or reject statutory sections one by one.  I am empowered either to sign the bill, or reject it, as a whole.  In this case, though I continue to oppose certain sections of the Act, the need to renew critical defense authorities and funding was too great to ignore,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

The bill tightens sanctions on Iran and boosts security at diplomatic missions around the world – two priorities for the Obama administration, which is trying to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear pursuits and is grappling with the aftermath of a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

But the new law also includes two provisions that complicate the president's pledge to close the Guantanamo detention center.

Obama said he continues to oppose a provision that renews the bar against using appropriated funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States. He also objected to a provision that restricts the executive branch’s authority to transfer detainees to a foreign country.

“The Congress designed these sections, and has here renewed them once more, in order to foreclose my ability to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” Obama said. “I continue to believe that operating the facility weakens our national security by wasting resources, damaging our relationships with key allies, and strengthening our enemies.”

The president signed an executive order shortly after taking office in 2009 promising to close the prison whose long detention of terrorism suspects, often without charge or trial, has become a stain on the U.S. human rights record. But that agenda was pushed back as Obama grappled with health care reform, the economic crisis and instability in the Middle East.

Most of the prisoners held at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay were captured in Afghanistan after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Of the nearly 800 detainees held there, about 170 remain as the U.S. grapples with how to prosecute, release or hold them.

Human Rights Watch criticized the president Wednesday for not doing more to fulfill his pledge to close the facility.

“The administration blames Congress for making it harder to close Guantanamo, yet for a second year President Obama has signed damaging congressional restrictions into law,” said Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel and advocate at Human Rights Watch. “The burden is on Obama to show he is serious about closing the prison.”

The New York-based rights group said Obama did have a choice, and that if he vetoed the 2013 defense bill, last year’s bill would still be in effect.

The new legislation sets the defense agenda for the year and authorizes spending amounts for different programs but does not appropriate the money.

The bill approves the allocation of $528 billion to the Defense Department, $17 billion to the Energy Department's defense and nuclear programs and $88 billion for overseas contingency operations, including the war in Afghanistan.
 
It calls for as many as 1,000 additional Marines to be deployed to embassies and consulates around the world.

The sanctions targeting Iran focus on the country's energy, shipping and shipbuilding sectors in an effort to pressure the government to stop enriching uranium, a key component in nuclear weapons.

The defense bill also approves a pay rise for military personnel and eases restrictions on disseminating material from the Broadcasting Board of Governors within the United States, including content from the Voice of America.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid