Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Obama Signs Spending Bill for Military after Changes ; He Achieves Concessions on Detainees but Still Cites His 'Serious Reservations'

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Obama Signs Spending Bill for Military after Changes ; He Achieves Concessions on Detainees but Still Cites His 'Serious Reservations'

Article excerpt

He said changes in the bill had satisfied most of his concerns and had given him enough latitude to manage counterterrorism and foreign policy in keeping with administration principles.

President Barack Obama, after objecting to provisions of a military spending bill that would have forced him to try terrorism suspects in military courts and impose strict sanctions on Iran's oil exports, has signed the legislation.

He signed the bill on Saturday and said that although he did not support all of it, changes made by Congress after negotiations with the White House had satisfied most of his concerns and had given him enough latitude to manage counterterrorism and foreign policy in keeping with administration principles.

"The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it," Mr. Obama said Saturday in a statement issued in Hawaii, where he is on vacation. "I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists."

The bill authorizes $662 billion in military spending through 2012. It is a smaller amount than the Pentagon had asked for, but it does not impose the radical cuts that the military faces in coming years.

The White House had said that the legislation could lead to an improper military role in overseeing detention and court proceedings and could infringe on the president's authority in dealing with terrorism suspects. But it said that Mr. Obama could interpret the statute in a way that would preserve his authority.

The president, for example, said that he would never authorize the indefinite military detention of American citizens, because "doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation." He also said he would reject a "rigid across-the- board requirement" that suspects be tried in military courts rather than civilian courts.

Congress dropped a provision in the House version of the bill that would have banned using civilian courts to prosecute those suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda. …

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