U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today issued the following statement on President Obama signing H.R. 4310, the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act:
"Yesterday, President Obama signed the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report, marking the 51st consecutive year of enactment for this vitally important legislation. However, in a signing statement accompanying the law, President Obama repeated his previous arguments challenging the work Congress has done to protect American taxpayers, shape national security policy, and strengthen our nation's defense.
"In his signing statement, the President objects to a provision in the NDAA related to the transfer of terrorist detainees in Afghanistan. As we hand detainees over to the Afghan and third-country governments, it is entirely reasonable to assess the security threat posed by the detainees, the stability of the countries to which they will be transferred, and those countries' willingness and ability to prosecute and detain, as required by this provision. We do not want to repeat a situation in Afghanistan like the one in Iraq last year in which the Iraqi government released Ali Musa Daqduq, the terrorist responsible for the deaths of at least five U.S. servicemen in Iraq, who has now rejoined Hezbollah in Lebanon.
"The President also opposes the provision requiring security certifications by the Secretary of Defense before any transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees. The provision is obviously reasonable given that the recidivism rate of detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is nearly 28 percent.
"The President also objects to prohibitions on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay into the U.S., and the construction of facilities to house them in America. Recall that in 2009, the American people objected to bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to New York City for trial. The American people do not want members of terrorist organizations brought to the United States for trial or detention.
"The President seems to blame these provisions for his inability to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. He has it backwards. These and similar provisions in past defense bills resulted from the Administration's announcement of an arbitrary deadline to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by January 2010 without providing a comprehensive plan to Congress that ensured our national security and the safety of the American people. That plan, to our knowledge, still does not exist.
"The NDAA Conference Report specifically addresses issues left unaddressed by the Administration, including requiring a comprehensive report by Secretary of Defense identifying the limited military activities that could degrade the ability of the Assad regime to use air power against rebels in Syria. The Conference Report also addresses the glaring shortcomings in diplomatic security -- tragically brought to light by the loss of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 -- by authorizing an increase of the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group, which will support security at our embassies and consulates at locations identified by the Secretary of State to be at risk of terrorist attack.
"We thank our friend and colleague Chairman Levin for his distinguished leadership of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and appreciate the hard work of all Committee members in both Houses of Congress on both sides of the aisle to make this the 51st consecutively enacted Defense Authorization bill. It provides for our troops and their families, and will improve the administration of the Department of Defense. We urge the President to see that its implementation is carried out in accordance with Congressional intent."