(WASHINGTON D.C., 1/3/13) — A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization said today it is “disappointed” that President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 (NDAA) into law yesterday.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the legislation restricts the president's authority to transfer or prosecute detainees held at Guantanamo or to close the facility.
For the past two months, CAIR and a coalition of civil and human rights organizations strongly urged the president to veto the NDAA. The coalition pressed the president coming into his second term of office to honor his past pledge to close Guantanamo, a hallmark of his 2008 presidential campaign.
While this annual $641 billion defense authorization act provides valuable funding for the armed forces, it also includes several unnecessary restrictions that limit the president's authority to transfer prisoners at Guantanamo to the U.S. or repatriate or resettle to another country or prosecute in federal criminal courts for one year. These restrictions were to expire on March 27, 2013.
Even though the president had threatened to veto earlier drafts of the legislation over “limiting key authorities of the Executive,” the president bowed to congressional pressure and noted in his signing statement: “Though I continue to oppose certain sections of the Act, the need to renew critical defense authorities and funding was too great to ignore.”
As the legislation passed through Congress, CAIR issued a number of statements and alerts urging a presidential veto if the detention provisions were not removed.
CAIR Action Alert: Ask President Obama to Veto NDAA Over Guantanamo Restrictions
In a statement reacting to the signing of the legislation, CAIR said:
“It is disappointing to see the president once again let Congress impose restrictions on his authority to transfer or federally prosecute prisoners Guantanamo Bay or to close the facility.
“CAIR believes that Congress has repeatedly maneuvered to prevent the president from closing Guantanamo as he promised to do in his first year in office.
“We are equally disappointed in Congress for not doing anything to address the controversial threat of indefinite military detention of persons on U.S. soil as authorized by the previous year's NDAA.
“In the coming year, CAIR urges Congress and the president to work together to address the issues of indefinite detention and the prison at GuantÃ¡namo Bay which challenge our nation's commitment to the rule of law and worsens our international reputation.”
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, firstname.lastname@example.org