President Obama signed on Saturday the defense authorization bill, formally ending weeks of heated debate in Congress and intense lobbying by the administration to strip controversial provisions requiring the transfer of some terror suspects to military custody. "I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists,
" Obama said in a statement accompanying his signature.
The White House had originally threatened to veto the $662 billion bill, considered must-pass legislation, over the language that requires mandatory military custody for suspects linked to al-Qaida or its affiliates, even if they are captured in the U.S. Just before the House and Senate passed the bill comfortably, the White House said it would support the bill’s compromise language that, as tweaked by conference committee, would not impede the administration’s ability to collect intelligence or incapacitate dangerous terrorists.
Still, administration officials have admitted publicly the final provisions were not the preferred approach of this administration.
"Ultimately, I decided to sign this bill not only because of the critically important services it provides for our forces and their families and the national security programs it authorizes, but also because the Congress revised provisions that otherwise would have jeopardized the safety, security, and liberty of the American people," Obama said in Saturday's satement.