Signing of bill breaks promise of change
President Obama, who won his first election by promising change, began his second term with more of the same. By signing the National Defense Authorization Act, Obama has chosen to carry on the legacy left by the Bush Administration. The NDAA is a yearly bill that determines military spending and policies. Obama’s public reservations with some of the policies included in the bill did not, however, stop him from signing the act.
Obama has been an outspoken opponent of Guantanamo Bay and, in 2008, he promised to close the facility forever. Last year, Obama threatened to veto the NDAA because it contained language that would make it difficult to release Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Regardless of his promises, Obama signed the bill peacefully.
In addition, the NDAA gives the government the power to detain American citizens indefinitely. People suspected of terrorism can be jailed without a trial until the government decides to release them. If that seems unconstitutional, it is; article 1, section 9 of the Constitution guarantees a fair and speedy trial.
Obama has promised not to suspend habeas corpus, but then again, he also promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay. His pledge is meant to appease constituents, but has no legal power. Obama does not actually face any consequences if he decides to invoke that privilege. His actions, or lack there of, puts American citizens in danger of being unlawfully imprisoned by their own government.
Obama’s choice is a reminder that it is action, and not words, that matter most. Will Obama’s actions fit his progressive image? Judging by the NDAA, it seems unlikely.