In an official statement released Thursday, the White House said it would veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2013 if it passed in its current form.
The White House “strongly objected” to provisions of the annual defense spending bill that would limit the administration’s ability to move terrorism suspects from the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. The NDAA of 2013 prohibits detainees from being moved to the United States or to foreign countries, forcing the controversial facility to remain open.
The Obama administration threatened to veto similar provisions last year. But Congress refused to budge and Obama signed the bill into law at the 11th-hour.
“When he signed past versions of this legislation, the President objected to the restrictions carried forward by section 1031, promised to work towards their repeal, and warned the Congress that the restrictions on transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries would in certain circumstances interfere with constitutional responsibilities committed to the Executive Branch,” the statement from the White House Office of Management and Budget noted (PDF).
Closing Guantanamo was one of the core campaign promises Obama made during his 2008 presidential run. The President said the prison had become associated with human rights abuses and served as a recruiting tool for terrorists. Obama said in January he was still determined to close Guantanamo.
A report released by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Thursday found the detainees currently held in Guantanamo Bay could be safely transferred to prisons in the United States.