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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid