Obama’s Guantanamo

Barack Obama at his desk. Photo: White House (Pete Souza)During his presidential campaign Barack Obama was a harsh critic of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. An indeed, in January 2009, he signed an executive order for the closure of Guantanamo by January 2010. However, this did not happen and the latest development, following the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2012 that was passed recently, makes for an increasingly complicated situation.

The NDAA is that bill authorizes funding for the United States Departement of Defense. But in the massive text of the NDAA for 2012 a few provisions concerning the handling of suspected terrorists have been inserted. The act states that a person who is a part of, or supports, forces engaged in hostilities against the U.S. can be detained under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities.

Even though military detentions without trial has been used frequently by the U.S. this last decade, the act still represents a turning point. While the legality of the Bush administrations use of military detentions could have been questioned in the past, the NDAA codifies the practice into U.S. law.