Washington (CNN) - President Obama signed a defense spending bill into law Friday, saying he would work to repeal provisions making it harder to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
H.R. 6523, which authorizes the funding for all military activities of the United States for fiscal year 2011, includes a provision that bars the use of funds, authorized by the law, to transfer detainees from the detention facility into the United States. In a written statement after signing the bill into law, Obama called the provision "a dangerous and unprecedented challenge to critical executive branch authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and the circumstances of each case and our national security interests."
Obama said the option to try terrorists in federal court was necessary to preserve, and any attempt to take it away "undermines our Nation's counter-terrorism efforts and has the potential to harm our national security."
The president objected to another provision of the bill which bars the use of funds to transfer detainees to the custody or control of foreign countries unless certain conditions were met. He said such a provision hinders the ability of the executive branch to "make important and consequential" national security determinations on when such transfers should occur in a still ongoing armed conflict. Obama went on to say such conditions would "hinder the conduct of delicate negotiations with foreign countries and therefore the effort to conclude detainee transfers in accord with our national security."
After citing his objection to the two provisions, Obama said he signed the bill into law "because of the importance of authorizing appropriations for, among other things, our military activities in 2011." Obama said his administration would work with Congress to repeal the provisions.
Over the course of its existence, a number of detainees from Guantanamo have been transferred to destinations as wide ranging as Palau, Bermuda and Albania. On Thursday, the Defense Department announced an agreement the United States had reached with the government of Algeria to receive another detainee. In announcing the transfer, the Pentagon said 173 detainees remain at the Guantanamo facility.