Sunday, January 9, 2011

Obama signs law on detainee transfers

President Barack Obama on Friday reluctantly signed into law a military-funding bill that limits him from transferring terrorism detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S. or foreign countries, but he signaled that he may get past the restrictions by using non-Pentagon resources to get the job done.

Even as he reserved that right, it wasn't immediately clear to what degree the president still may capitulate to political pressure between now and his 2012 reelection campaign to keep detainees off U.S. soil and out of civilian courts.

The development also left uncertain what Attorney General Eric Holder would do about the trial of alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other Guantánamo captives who allegedly were the plotters, funders and trainers of the hijackers of four commercial aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001. Holder initially wanted to prosecute them in court in lower Manhattan, not far from ground zero, a choice that angered conservatives and some victims' families.

Obama didn't just sign a law on detainee transfers. He broke his campaign promise, and capitulated on detainee transfers. And, he issued a "signing statement" reserving the right to violate the law he signed - - something he called unconstitutional when Bush did it.

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