President Barack Obama has signed into law a $662 billion military spending bill that authorizes the government to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial. In a signing statement attached to the bill, Obama said he was signing the bill even though he had, “serious reservations” with parts of the bill dealing with detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists. Sections of the bill were opposed by key members of the Obama administration including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Human rights groups assailed Obama for backing down on his initial threat to veto the legislation. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch said, “President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law.” Chris Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union has also been a vocal critic of the legislation. He recently appeared on Democracy Now!
Chris Anders, American Civil Liberties Union: “This is so broadly written, it would become a permanent feature of United States law, so that 10 years, 20 years down the road, any president could still use this power to have the military pick up people and indefinitely detain them without charge or trial, potentially for years, potentially for life.”