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No more using of the term enemy combatants

The Bush Administration, in its fight against global terrorism, had taken on the mantle of expanded powers, using its own legal team to claim mighty powers; these powers started getting challenged after some time through public discussion and legal means. However, the American constitution is not pretty clear on many of these areas (given that this was a constitution written more than 200 years back, such vagueness is to be expected); what is clear is that a wartime President has the power to take many actions in the pursuit of a war (with Congress and the courts not having the ability to second guess many of these powers). The dispute over the past many years winding its way through the American higher courts were about the scope of the powers of the President, and these were tricky questions. After all, there was little doubt that many of the people who were imprisoned were those who were guilty of planning or had undertaken extreme forms of violence and against whom there was no direct evidence that would convict them, or the evidence was obtained through means that would not stand up in court. One of the terms that was used by the Bush administration and that led to a huge amount of discussion was the term ‘enemy combatant’. The Bush administration took the position that people termed as such were not allowed the same rights as those of a normal criminal accused, but could be held under the authority of the President.


Once the Obama Administration came to power, the expectation was that many of the excesses of the Bush era would come to a stop; however, if you look at the policy position of Obama once in power, he has dumped the term of ‘enemy combatant’ but kept the same powers (almost) (refer this article):

There will no longer will be “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Obama administration said Friday. Moreover, the new president no longer claims that his title as commander in chief allows him to order people deemed to be dangerous captured and held without trial. Having abandoned a favored Bush administration term in the war on terrorism, however, the new administration has claimed roughly the same power to hold Guantanamo’s detainees indefinitely — even those who never held a gun or went near a battlefield.
President Obama’s lawyers said Congress gave him the authority he needed when it authorized the use of military force one week after the Sept. 11 attacks. It said the president can use the military against “nations, organizations or persons” who planned or aided the terrorist attacks. President George W. Bush cited the same authority when he created the prison at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, but he also said he could act on his own as commander in chief.

For people who had been hoping that the change in administration will lead to a total reversal of policies, the enunciation of the new policy would not have been very comforting. One factor that would have led to the policy not being as liberal as many would have liked was the statistic released recently about the new of people who were released from Guantanamo who went back to being terrorists and fighting US interests.

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