As Americans look upon the treacherous legislation passed under NDAA 2012, it it should first be remembered that the very bill President Obama threatened to veto was controversial due to the language the Obama White House itself pressured Congress to add to the bill, according to Sen. Carl Levin.
Second, signing statements are not law, and are not a Constitutional power granted to the executive branch; any reassuring (or troubling) language within has no binding status– though it may shed light on the intent/character of the chief executive. However, the statement itself does not indicate any deviation of intent from the law as written and signed.
From Wikipedia: The Constitution does not authorize the President to use signing statements to circumvent any validly enacted Congressional Laws, nor does it authorize him to declare he will disobey such laws (or parts thereof). When a bill is presented to the President, the Constitution (Art. II) allows him only three choices: do nothing, sign the bill, or (if he disapproves of the bill) veto it in its entirety.
Obama’s use of signing statements has clearly shown his willingness to continue the George W. Bush legacy– not only of torture and illegal detainment, but in the dangerous trend of de facto rule by “executive fiat.” Worse, such signing statements put in place a precedent for future presidents to follow– or expand upon.
Further, Barack Obama has continued to backslide on his campaign promise not to use signing statements and executive orders to circumnavigate legislation signed into law. RELATED (Feb. 2010): Obama Breaks Yet Another Key Campaign Promise on Executive Orders, Signing Statements
After the legislation cleared Congress, the ACLU commented that signing the bill “will damage both his legacy and American’s reputation for upholding the rule of law,” while executive director of the Human Rights Watch blasted the President for being ‘on the wrong side of history,’ noting that “Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.”
Presidential candidate Ron Paul went even further, declaring that the NDAA bill begins the official establishment of martial law in the United States