Friday, March 13, 2009

Back to civilization: U.S. drops 'enemy combatant' designation for detainees

Friday's announcement by the Obama administration to stop using the term 'enemy combatant' to get around international laws to justify open-ended detentions of terror suspects is another step forward in the reintegration of the United States to civilized society. The U.S. Justice Department said it had filed court papers outlining the end of detention standards promulgated by the Bush administration as it moves to close the controversial military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "As we work toward developing a new policy to govern detainees, it is essential that we operate in a manner that strengthens our national security, is consistent with our values, and is governed by law," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, according to the Reuters international news service. "The change we've made today meets each of those standards and will make our nation stronger." The Justice Department said that from now on, it only would seek to detain people who provided "substantial support" to al-Qaida or the Taliban, and would justify their detention using international law. Former President George W. Bush contended the power to detain came from his inherent power as commander in chief. The Justice Department also said further refinements of the U.S. detention policy were expected.

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