Not to worry, however: “The new construct clearly allows for the continued detention of admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a handful of his acknowledged al Qaeda operatives.” As for the rest of the 240 detainees, sounds like they can now go back home and finish their jihadi training in the terrorist camps where they were first rounded up.
“U.S. reverses policy, drops ‘enemy combatant’ term,” by Terry Frieden for CNN, March 13:
WASHINGTON (CNN) — In a dramatic break with the Bush administration, the Justice Department on Friday announced it is doing away with the designation of “enemy combatant,” which allowed the United States to hold suspected terrorists at length without criminal charges.
In a court filing in Washington, the department said it is developing a new standard for the government’s authority to hold detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.
The announcement says the Justice Department will no longer rely on the the president’s authority as commander in chief, but on authority specifically granted by Congress.
And the government document says that individuals who support al Qaeda or the Taliban are detainable only if the support was “substantial.”
The category of “enemy combatant” had been an important aspect of the Bush administration’s legal construct for dealing with terrorism suspects.
The government describes its new policy position in a memo submitted to the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., in a case dealing with Guantanamo Bay detainee litigation that began during the Bush administration.
In the document, the Obama administration provides a more limited definition of who may be held at Guantanamo Bay:
“The president has the authority to detain persons that the president determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, andpersons who harbored those responsible for those attacks,” the document says.
“The president also has the authority to detain persons who were part of, or substantially supported Taliban or al-Qaida forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act, or has directly supported hostilities, in aid of such enemy armed forces.”
The Justice Department did not say how many of the approximately 240 detainees now at Guantanamo may fall within the new definition. The new construct clearly allows for the continued detention of admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a handful of his acknowledged al Qaeda operatives…