Well, it was only a matter of time. The Obama administration has decided to abandon the term “enemy combatants” to describe the jihadi suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Makes sense. After all, Attorney General Eric Holder’s former law firm has been calling the Gitmo detainees by a different name for a while now: Clients.
The Obama Administration today dropped the term “enemy combatant” to describe those held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and increased the legal threshold needed to detain them.
The Justice Department disclosed the move in a court filing in response to a federal judge’s order seeking a definition of the term “enemy combatant.”
Judges have said the definition will play a key role in determining whether the government has justified the confinement of scores of detainees who are challenging their status in U.S. District Court.
In a break with the Bush Administration’s policies, the Justice Department said it would only seek to detain those who “substantially supported” the Taliban, Al Qaeda or associated forces or participated in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Bush Administration had argued it could detain those who provided support to those groups and others “engaged in hostilities” against the United States and its allies.
The Justice Department did not define “substantially supported” in the court papers but said the term would not include those who “provide unwitting or insignificant support” to terror groups. “The particular facts and circumstances justifying detention will vary from case to case,” they wrote.
Though dropping the term “enemy combatant” will have little practical effect, it is a symbolic move by the Obama Administration to break with the past.