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Published:March 15th, 2009 19:32 EST
CTV journalist Jawed Ahmad

'Enemy Combatant' Is Now A Forbidden Phrase Pertaining Terrorists

By Christopher HIllenbrand

The Obama administration has forbade usage of `enemy combatant`: a term coined by President Bush pertaining those accused of terrorist acts on America, in all court filings submitted after Friday. The Justice Department announced that it would comply by the new policy in not using the phrase to justify detaining prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay.

CTV journalist Jawed Ahmad


But Obama has affirmed that the military holds sovereignty over imprisoning those suspected of crimes of terrorism at the American naval base located in Cuba. Under the last administration, the president contradicted international laws of war and Congressional authority by asserting that he had the final say in wartime matters. With the change in regime, came a change in practice by the federal government under the Obama presidency.


 The change in stance by Obama`s administration resulted from the deadline mandated by U.S. District Judge John Bates who is presiding over lawsuits filed by detainees questioning their imprisonment. Bates required that the administration define what constitutes a criminal as an `enemy combatant` and how those deemed as such are remanded.


Obama`s filing supports Bush`s position over the power to hold prisoners, whether they were apprehended on the battlefields in times of hostility or not. In their lawsuits, detainees argue that only those directly guilty of aggression against American forces should be imprisoned.


The Justice Department is adamantly against the arguments posed by detainees, stating that many criminals would now go free on this technicality. The law in place states that prisoners may only be held if their support for al-Qaida, the Taliban, and "associated forces" was "substantial", but the details on to what "substantial" refers is vague at best


As the Justice Department asserted: "The argument should be rejected. Law-of-war principles do not limit the United States` detention authority to this limited category of individuals. A contrary conclusion would improperly reward an enemy that violates the laws of war by operating as a loose network and camouflaging its forces as citizens."


Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a statement to the U.S. District Court describing how the President is pursuing to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in the next year and relocating the 240 inmates housed there.


In his letter, the Attorney General detailed: "Promptly determining the appropriate disposition of those detained at Guantanamo Bay is a high priority for the president."


Holder mentioned in the brief that there`s a possibility that "further refinements" may be instituted into the administration`s stance, but those will only become known as the idea marches forward.


        The government`s lawyers shot back with: "The particular facts and circumstances justifying detention will vary from case to case, and may require the identification and analysis from traditional international armed conflicts. Accordingly, the contours of the `substantial support` and `associated forces` bases of detention will need to be further developed in their application to concrete facts in individual cases."

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