Today, the Obama administration set forth the authority under which it claims it can continue to hold those at Guantanamo without giving them a trial. If any of us thought or hoped or prayed that Obama would reject the detention without trial scenario authored by Bush, we were sorely disappointed. Yes, the term enemy combatant is gone to be replaced by “members of enemy forces.” And who are they? Well just go back to the Bush administration definition of “enemy combatant” with one small change—the word “substantially” in front of support. So, it is roughly the same except now the Obama administration says they will not detain the little old lady in Switzerland who unwittingly gives money to Al Qaeda or the Taliban.
Again, as with Bush the Obama administration is applying the laws of international armed conflict (the laws of war) to the Taliban, al-Qaeda and associated forces when those laws have no application to those entities in the current situation. Again as the Bushies did they are conflating the right to use force against terrorists with a claim that they can be held forever without trial. The laws of war contain no such authority. Again, they are claiming the right to capture and detain people anywhere in the world—the world is still a battlefield according to Obama. So, the “global war on terror” continues.
Here is the “new” definiton of detainees who are no longer called “enemy combatants.” Guess what–as I said above: its roughly the same.
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, and persons who harbored those responsible for those attacks. The President also has the authority to detain persons who were part of, or substantially supported, Taliban or al-Qaeda 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.