Well, not really. But then again, he also didn’t sign a bill authorizing the military to detain U.S. Citizens. The Defense Reauthorization Act of 2012 has a Subtitle D, entitled “Detainee Matters”. Sections 1031 and 1032 deal with military detention of certain persons.
Section 1032(a) states that it “affirms the authority of the . . .armed forces to detain covered persons pending their disposition under the law of war.” There are two categories of covered persons. A person who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attack of September 11, 2011, or harbored those responsible for the attacks” The second category is a person who “is part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States . . . including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of enemy forces.”
Disposition under the law of war can include detention until the end of the hostilities that were authorities by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (the resolution passed by Congress immediately after the terrorist attacks), a trial under the Military Commissions Act of 2009, transfer for trail to an alternative court or tribunal, or transfer to the person’s country of origin or any other foreign country or foreign entity.
Importantly, section 1032 says: Nothing in this section shall be construed to affected existing law or authorities relating to the detention of U.S. Citizens, lawful resident aliens or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.
Section 1032(b) requires that certain persons be held in military custody pending disposition under the law of war. This includes two categories of persons: persons who are members or a part of al-Qaeda or an associated forces that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and persons who participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States.
Notably, by its own terms Section 1032(b) does not apply to United States Citizens. It also does not apply to lawful residents aliens on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except as permitted by the Constitution of the United States.
In other words, if prior law did not authorize the detention of a U.S. Citizen, then this law does not create that authority. Wow, that Barack Obama sure is a bad guy.