Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Obama administration's changes to terror-fighting terms may not change much at Guantanamo

WASHINGTON — No longer will there be "enemy combatants" at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the Obama administration said Friday. Moreover, the president no longer claims that his title as commander in chief allows him to order dangerous persons captured and held without trial.

Little is likely to change, however. Having abandoned the George W. Bush administration's favorite terms in the war on terrorism, the new administration claimed for itself roughly the same power to hold Guantanamo's detainees indefinitely, even those who never held a gun or went near a battlefield.

The Justice Department emphasized the change in terminology in a news release. Lawyers who have been fighting the government countered that nothing had changed. The Center for Constitutional Rights said the new administration "offers essentially the same definition of 'enemy combatant' without using the term." Friday's announcement arose as a result of last year's Supreme Court ruling that said Guantanamo prisoners could challenge their detention before a federal judge. Lawyers filed hundreds of petitions on their behalf.

Several federal judges were forced to decide what the Supreme Court left undecided: Who exactly can be held indefinitely as a prisoner in the war on terrorism? Is the definition limited to those who were terrorists and fighters who carried guns, or does it extend to civilians suspected of conspiring with al-Qaida?

In the 12-page legal memo sent to a judge Friday, the administration said it had tweaked the government's definition of who can be held without charges. The new definition says those who "substantially supported" al-Qaida or the Taliban can be held, regardless of where they were captured. The previous definition referred to those who gave "support" to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

The president's lawyers said Congress gave the president the authority he needed when it passed the authorization for the use of military force one week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It said the president can use the military against "nations, organizations or persons" who planned or aided the terrorist attacks.

Bush cited the same authority when he created the Guantanamo prison, but he also said he could act on his own as commander in chief.

Obama administration's changes to terror-fighting terms may not change much at Guantanamo 03/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 13, 2009 10:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack

    World

    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  2. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath

    K12

    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  3. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  4. Study: Pollution kills 9 million a year, costs $4.6 trillion

    World

    NEW DELHI — Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    New Delhi’s landmark India Gate, a war memorial, is engulfed in morning smog on Friday.
  5. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.