Transfers, Releases & Resettlements

Administration Statement of Policy on Senate NDAA Bill

By Wells Bennett
Thursday, November 29, 2012, 4:09 PM

Here's the Obama Administration's statement of policy regarding the Senate's version of the NDAA for FY2013.   The document begins as follows:

The Administration appreciates the Senate Armed Services Committee's continued support for our national defense and supports a large number of the provisions in S. 3254, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013, such as its support for both the base budget and for overseas contingency operations; the Administration's initiative to modernize the military retirement system; and authorities that enhance the Department of Defense's (DOD's) ability to operate in unconventional and irregular warfare, counter unconventional threats, or support contingency or stability operations. However, while there are numerous areas of agreement with the Committee, the Administration has serious concerns with provisions that: (1) depart from the President's FY 2013 Budget request; (2) constrain the ability of the Armed Forces to carry out their missions consistent with the new defense strategy; and (3) limit key authorities of the Executive. If the bill is presented to the President for approval in its current form, the President's senior advisers would recommend that the President veto the bill. The Administration strongly supports the overall goals of this legislation and looks forward to working with the Congress to address these and other concerns, a number of which are outlined in more detail below, and eventually signing this important legislation.

Detainee Matters: The Administration strongly objects to section 1031's restrictions on the use of funds to transfer detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries. When he signed past versions of this legislation, the President objected to the restrictions carried forward by section 1031, promised to work towards their repeal, and warned the Congress that the restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries would in certain circumstances interfere with constitutional responsibilities committed to the Executive Branch. Since these restrictions have been on the books, they have limited the Executive's ability to manage military operations in an ongoing armed conflict, harmed the country's diplomatic relations with allies and counterterrorism partners, and provided no benefit whatsoever to our national security. The Administration continues to believe that restricting the transfer of detainees to the custody of foreign countries in the context of an ongoing armed conflict interferes with the Executive's ability to make important foreign policy and national security determinations, and would in certain circumstances violate constitutional separation of powers principles. The Administration also continues to oppose the prohibition on funding to construct, acquire or modify a detention facility in the United States to house any individual detained at Guantanamo, which shortsightedly constrains the options available to military and counterterrorism professionals to address evolving threats. The restrictions carried forward by section 1031 were misguided when they were enacted and should not be renewed.