The Talking Dog

March 13, 2009, Cool new name; same great totalitarianism

One of the issues being hotly litigated in the ongoing Guantanamo habeas corpus cases is the definition of "enemy combatant;" the significance of this term, of course, is that only a properly classified "enemy combatant" may be held in military custody for the duration of "hostilities."

Interestingly, what you might think would matter is the military's own definition of "enemy combatant," from the Defense Department's own Dictionary of Military Terms, to wit, "Any person in an armed conflict who could be properly detained under the laws and customs of war. Also called EC."

But no... instead, as Scotusblog reports here, the main effect of the change(TM) is to change the nomenclature, and the hypothetical doctrinal bases ("derived from international law rather than from inherent Presidential power")... but ... the policy is... largely the same as that in the Bush Administration. And that policy is, quite literally, an "enemy combatant" (now to be called... something else) is anyone we say had any relation to anyone whatsoever that we say is bad. And the truly sad thing is... I'm not even making that up!

Indeed, having reviewed the court filing itself (hat tip to Lindsay) and given my anecdotal knowledge of many of the detainees' cases, while it certainly sounds good that only "substantial contributions" to hostilities can be considered grounds for detention-for-life-without-charge-or-trial, "the math" is that of the 241 known detainees left, 59 have already been designated "not enemy combatants," leaving 182 who are... since the government's memo contends that signing an A.Q. loyalty oath (actually, any loyalty oath to anyone or anything), or
visiting an A.Q. training camp, ever, even back when the A-rabs was on our side (in the big one against the Evil Empire(TM) back in the '80's, when we were paying them), or of course, anyone captured in a guesthouse with other bad guys... by my count, that means of the 182 detainees left, something like... 182 will be "enemy combatants" under the new and improved definition of... whatever it is (I suggest Foreign Renditioned Enemy Detainee, or "FRED").

And so once again, the President who vociferously and incessantly promised us "change" has given us... the exact same policy as his despised predecessor. BTW... for those not paying attention, the policy pronouncements indicate that there is no reason why someone in the United States can't be considered eligible for arbitrary life-detention, if the President says so.

Frankly, in this area, it's getting awfully hard for the Obama Administration to disappoint me, as I no longer have any expectations of it whatever. Deep sigh. This has been... Cool new name; same great totalitarianism.


Good points, talking dog.

Posted by alina at March 14, 2009 1:13 PM

Yes -- he's reaffirmed the cock and bull notion that the President can do whatever he wants because we're at war -- with whoever he says we're at war with.

Nasty spam you've been hit with.

Posted by janinsanfran at March 15, 2009 8:29 PM