On Wednesday, President Obama signed the Defense Bill that had barred him from transferring GITMO inmates to their home countries or to the United States. Yet in so doing, he added a signing statement that basically says he claims the “constitutional” authority to transfer GITMO inmates as needed, when needed.
According to the statement, Obama reserved the right to transfer inmates if he determined that barring him from doing so “violates constitutional separation of powers.”
This is an ironic position to say the least, as Obama took many opportunities to criticize George W. Bush for using such statements as an “endrun” around Congress. Now, what was unconstitutional in 2008 is acceptable operating procedure.
But take heart; Obama claims he will only use the signing statements as a way to do exactly what Congress prohibits when doing so is within “the mainstream and widely accepted theories of the constitutional power of the president.” (In other words, whenever Obama wants to do it.)