Politics

Obama Gets Rid of “Enemy Combatant” Designation

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President Obama has decided to relegate the term “enemy combatant” to the waste bin of the Bush era.

The Obama administration is abandoning one of President George W. Bush’s key phrases in the war on terrorism: enemy combatant In court filings Friday, the Justice Department said it will no longer use the term to justify holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Obama still asserts the military’s authority to hold detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. But his Justice Department says that authority comes from Congress and the international laws of war, not from the president’s own wartime power as Bush had argued.

This appears to be an attempt by the new administration to rid our nation of some of the gray areas the Bush administration created in the years after September 11th. While many of Bush’s supporters thought the threat of terrorism necessitated the president having the power to operate outside of congressional authority and international laws of war, many felt Bush was overreaching and creating powers that could be too easily abused. In a conflict which could continue for generations, our nation needs to operate under policies more exact than “because the president says so.”

Today, Obama took an important step in reconfiguring how we pursue the war on terror. While the move doesn’t change current realities such as specific incarcerations, the effect of the change is to remove some of the executive branch’s power. For those of us who never felt uncomfortable with the level of presidential power Bush wielded, this is a welcome change.