National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012: Detainee Matters [January 11, 2012]   [open pdf - 418KB]

"The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 (2012 NDAA, P.L. 112-81) contains a subtitle addressing issues related to detainees at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and more broadly, the disposition of persons captured in the course of hostilities against Al Qaeda and associated forces. Much of the debate surrounding passage of the act centered on what appears to be an effort to confirm or, as some observers view it, expand the detention authority that Congress implicitly granted the President via the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF, P.L. 107-40) in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. [...] While Congress deliberated over the competing House and Senate bills, the White House expressed strong criticism of both bills' detainee provisions, and threatened to veto any legislation 'that challenges or constrains the President's critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the Nation.' A few modifications were made during conference to assuage some of the Administration's concerns. Notably, the conferees added a statement to confirm that the provision mandating the military detention of certain categories of persons does not affect existing authorities of domestic law enforcement agencies, even with respect to persons held in military custody. President Obama ultimately lifted the veto threat and signed the 2012 NDAA into law, though he issued a statement criticizing many of the bill's detainee provisions. He declared that his Administration would implement the mandatory military detention provision so as to preserve a maximum degree of flexibility, and that it would not 'adhere to a rigid across-the-board requirement for military detention.' He also criticized the restrictions placed on Guantanamo detainee transfers, arguing that some applications might violate constitutional separation of powers principles."

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CRS Report for Congress, R42143
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