Top news: President Barack Obama put aside his threat of a veto and signed a Defense Authorization bill that severely limits the administration's ability to move detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, but included a signing statement suggesting he might challenge the provisions.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 places new limits on the repatriation of detainees to countries like Yemen, where the majority of transfers have taken place, and also limits the Pentagon's ability to transfer detainees from Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base.
Obama signed the bill, saying its other provisions on military funding couldn't be delayed, but included a signing statement suggesting that if its provisions were being implemented “in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my administration will implement it to avoid the constitutional conflict”. Obama issued a similar statement on the 2012 version of the act, but did not follow on challenging that law.
Obama still claims that his administration aims to close the Guantanamo detention center, where 166 men remain in custody, but his failure to do so in his first term, as promised, has angered human rights groups. “President Obama has utterly failed the first test of his second term, even before Inauguration Day,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, responding to the new bill.
The bill may also have the unintended effect of reducing the number of prosecutions by military commission carried out at Guantanamo, as it makes it more difficult for prosecutors to offer plea deals.
Syria: U.S. troops have reportedly landed in Turkey to man Patriot missile defense batteries near the Syrian border.
- Charges were filed against the 5 suspects in the gang rape and killing of a woman on a New Delhi bus.
- A drone strike killed Pakistani Taliban commander Maulvi Nazir in Northwestern Pakistan.
- Japanese President Shinzo Abe has sent a special envoy to meet with South Korea's incoming president.
- 32 Shiite pilgrims were killed by bombings in Central Iraq.
- Fatah staged a large rally in Gaza.
- A man was charged with spying for Israel in Yemen.
- The Venezuelan government says President Hugo Chavez encountered complications after his latest surgery but would not say if he would be able to be sworn in on Jan. 10.
- A Spanish politician is calling for an inquiry into the car crash that killed Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya.
- Britain's Sun newspaper took out an ad in an Argentine paper defending Britain's claim to the Falkland Islands.
- Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old girl shot by the Pakistani Taliban, was released from a London hospital.
- Switzerland's oldest bank is closing after being fined in the U.S.
- Hungary's constitutional court voided a controversial election law.
- The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan are due to meet in Ethiopia.
- The DRC's M23 rebels are threatening to pull out of peace talks unless the government agrees to a ceasefire.
- Ethiopia claims to have arrested 15 members of an al Qaeda-linked terror cell.
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