US President Barack Obama has signed the controversial NDAA defence bill, but added that his administration would not use the bill to indefinitely detain US citizens without trial. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what the bill allows, and many critics have criticised the president for allowing the bill to become law.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), HR 1540, covers a broad range of US military and defence spending. The more controversial parts of the bill, specifically those covering detention of US citizens, do not really extend US government power much beyond the provisions already established in the Patriot Act. But the indefinite detention of US citizens without the right to trial has caused great concern, even though this has in reality been going on for many years.
The real challenge for Obama will be to limit the damage to his political reputation that results from signing the bill. His claim to be uneasy about some aspects of the bill would seem to be an early attempt to distance himself from the legislation, but the fact remains that the bill is now law, ready to be used by his – or a subsequent – administration.