Detention Bill Passes Both Chambers
December 16, 2011 by Sam Rolley
Congress cleared a $662 billion defense bill Thursday and will send the measure to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The National Defense Authorization Act and its controversial provisions regarding detention of American terror suspects was passed in the House of Representatives Wednesday night by a vote of 283-136.
The bill split Democrats down the middle, as 93 voted in favor and 93 against legislation that President Barack Obama endorsed earlier that day by retreating from a veto threat after a “change in the language” of the detention provision, according to POLITICO. The bill was met with opposition from 43 members of the GOP.
“We have ensured that as we fight terrorists around the world, we also protect the civil liberties of Americans at home,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement issued following the vote.
The Senate voted 86-13 for the bill on Thursday. The bill would authorize money for military personnel and operations as well as indefinite detention of American terror suspects.
The White House initially threatened a veto but dropped that warning, saying last-minute Congressional changes no longer challenge the President’s ability to prosecute the war on terror, according to The Associated Press.
Human Rights Watch has described the President’s failure to veto the bill as a destruction of the rule of law both in the United States and abroad.
“By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side.”