President Barack Obama vetoed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), prompting the lead organization against both the act and its associated place of human rights abuse, Guantanamo Bay, to respond by saying the president has no excuse for failing to close the act’s associated prisoner of war camp.
Obama’s stated rationale stated Thursday for vetoing the 2016 NDAA neglects constitutional and human rights issues. It was about funding “national security” and economics. In what constituted treason and flagrant breach of human rights, according to rights groups, the NDAA stripped Americans of their constitutional rights like no other legal document in history. ACLU was among the many American rights groups and individual defenders urging Americans to halt the legislation before more people experienced the cruel and inhumane treatment of Targeted Individuals.
“I’m going to be vetoing this authorization bill, I’m going to be sending it back to Congress and my message to them is very simple: Let’s do this right. We’re in the midst of budget discussions,” Obama said in today’s Oval Office signing ceremony. “Let’s have a budget that properly funds our national security as well as economic security, let’s make sure that we’re able in a constructive way to reform our military spending to make it sustainable over the long term.”
His statements, however, fall short of what constitutional and human rights defenders view appropriate.
“Today’s veto is important because it blocks congressional efforts to impose new, strict requirements on transferring our clients from Guantánamo, including many long cleared for release. But lawmakers’ attempts to keep Guantánamo open for partisan political gain are no excuse for President Obama’s failure to close the prison,” the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), that represents many men detained at Guantanamo, stated in a written statement in response to Obama’s comments and veto today of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“President Obama has all the power he needs to transfer men out of Guantánamo, ramp up the administrative Periodic Review Board process to clear more men, and bring men into the U.S. for prosecution in federal court,” CCR stated.
“What President Obama lacks is political will. If he doesn’t take bold steps now, he will fail to close Guantánamo, and that will be a central part of his legacy as president.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for nearly 14 years – representing clients in two Supreme Court cases and organizing and coordinating hundreds of pro bono lawyers across the country, ensuring that all the men detained at Guantánamo had the option of legal representation.
CCR is responsible for many Guantanamo cases in many venues, representing men in their habeas cases in federal court and before the military commissions and Periodic Review Boards, the families of men who died at Guantánamo, and men who have been released and are seeking accountability in international courts.
Chair of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Rep. William “Mac” Thornberry, R-Texas held a news conference Tuesday with 12 members of Congress who served in the military. They vowed to pressure a vote to override the president’s veto, though it appears not to have votes to succeed.