Obama Administration Offers Essentially Same Definition of Enemy Combatant Without Using the Term

March 13, 2009, New York –  In response to this afternoon’s government filing in multiple Guantánamo cases, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:

While the new government has abandoned the term “Enemy Combatant,” it appears on first reading that whatever they call those they claim the right to detain, they  have adopted almost the same standard the Bush administration used to detain people without charge – with one change, the addition of the word “substantially” before the word “supported.” This is really a case of old wine in new bottles.

Whether in interpreting the laws of war or the AUMF, the government continues to confuse the right to use military force with the right to detain terror suspects indefinitely. It is still unlawful to hold people indefinitely without charge. The men who have been held for more than seven years by our government must be charged or released.  

CCR has led the legal battle over Guantanamo for the last six years – sending the first ever habeas attorney to the base and sending the first attorney to meet with a former CIA “ghost detainee” there. CCR has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500 pro bono lawyers across the country in order to represent the men at Guantanamo, ensuring that nearly all have the option of legal representation. In addition, CCR has been working to resettle the approximately 60 men who remain at Guantánamo because they cannot return to their country of origin for fear of persecution and torture.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.


Last modified 

August 15, 2011