(Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)
(USA TODAY) President Obama has not given up the idea of trying terrorist suspects now housed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in United States courts.
While signing a bill designed to make it easier to transfer Gitmo detainees to other countries, Obama again protested congressional restrictions on bringing some prisoners to the United States.
"The executive branch must have the authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests," Obama wrote in a signing statement attached Thursday toa new defense authorization bill.
Congressional Republicans, other lawmakers and local officials have objected to the idea of terrorism trials in the United States, citing security concerns and possible threats from terrorist groups.
Obama, who is still trying to fulfill a 2008 campaign promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, praised new provisions in the defense bill that would make it easier to transfer detainees to other nations willing to take them.
But domestic restrictions remain, the president protested. One prevents the United States from building or bolstering any domestic prison to house Gitmo suspects; another prevents the transfer of detainees to the United States for any reason.
"For decades, Republican and Democratic administrations have successfully prosecuted hundreds of terrorists in Federal court. Those prosecutions are a legitimate, effective, and powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation.
"Removing that tool from the executive branch does not serve our national security interests."
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