Obama signs $607 billion defense bill, 'deeply disappointed' over Guantanamo provisions

DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL
Published 26.11.2015 01:58
Updated 26.11.2015 12:35
emEPA Photo/em
EPA Photo

U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law Wednesday a $607 billion defense spending bill that includes provisions that impede his efforts to close the controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama said he is "deeply disappointed" lawmakers have "again failed to take productive action toward closing the detention facility at Guantanamo".

"Maintaining this site, year after year, is not consistent with our interests as a nation and undermines our standing in the world," the American president said in a statement. "The continued operation of this facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists".

The spending bill continues prohibitions on the transfer of Guantanamo inmates to the U.S. that the administration has sought to have lifted as it seeks to round out the final stages of its plans to close the facility.

The Obama administration has relied on third party countries to receive inmates that have been cleared for release, but some are unlikely to ever leave U.S. custody given security concerns.

In order to shutter the facility, the administration is developing a plan for lawmakers that would require high-risk inmates to be transferred to domestic sites.

But with Obama's signing of the defense bill it is increasingly unlikely that the proposal will ever come to fruition.

The vast majority of congressional Republicans and some Democrats have voiced stern opposition to the idea.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said that by signing the bill, Obama "reaffirms longstanding prohibitions on the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States".

Obama previously vetoed a version of the bill that included spending caps for defense programs in 2016 and 2017 that he opposed. That disagreement was resolved in the current spending bill, paving the way for Obama to sign the legislation into law.

"The Congress has now revised the National Defense Authorization Act to incorporate these new funding changes and has altered the funding authorization provisions to which I objected," said Obama.

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