President Obama signed, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) despite previous threats to veto it. The NDAA allows for the funding of the defense department, which was appropriated $633 billion for 2013, and contains a provision that prevents the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay Prison to the United States. By signing the NDAA, Obama decided that funding the defense department is more important than fighting to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay. By signing the NDAA, Obama once again reneged on a 2008 campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay.
Human rights groups had urged Obama to follow through on his veto threat, but they were left disappointed by today's NDAA signing:
"President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day,” American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement. “His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial, as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended.”
In signing the NDAA, Obama is signaling that the human rights issues around the Guantanamo Bay prison do not have enough political clout to put up a fight with Republicans, who are likely to stand in Obama's way on any attempt to bring prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to the United States, allowing the closure of the prison. Guantanamo Bay prison has weathered plenty of controversy around human rights issues, and, while this was a popular topic and political talking point around the end of George W. Bush's time in office, with the signing of the NDAA, Obama has pushed that issue back at least one more year.