Instead, it shipped them into a legal limbo -- the construct of convenience called "enemy combatant" -- under which it could do what it would with them without compunction or consequences for nearly three years.
She based her decision on her conclusion that the Combatant Status Review Tribunals do not have the discretion to determine that a detainee should be classified as a prisoner of war—only whether the detainee satisfies the definition of "enemy combatant" as provided in references (a) and (b).
Here's an example of loose association: a Saudi held in Guantanamo was classified as an enemy combatant because he spent a couple of weeks at a Taliban bean farm. However, he says he was imprisoned on the farm because the Taliban thought he was a Saudi spy.
The Obama administration yesterday jettisoned the Bush-era term "enemy combatant" but maintained a broad right to detain those who provide "substantial" assistance to al-Qaeda and its associates around the globe.
Undetermined status with respect to "durably archived" requirement
Starting only weeks after detainees arrived at Guantanamo, Michael Ratner fought the case on behalf of Hicks and two British detainees, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul, through lower courts, challenging President Bush’s right to hold these prisoners indefinitely as “enemy combatants” without civil or human rights: an argument that the Supreme Court would affirm, two years later, in a stinging rebuke to the president’s policy.
In both cases the prosecution tried to argue that the distinction between "enemy combatants" and "unlawful enemy combatants" was irrelevant based on Bush's 2002 memo in which he stated that Taliban and al Qaeda detainees did not qualify as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions, thereby all Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees were unlawful combatants.
In a dramatic break with the Bush administration, the Justice Department on Friday announced it is doing away with the designation of "enemy combatant," which allowed the United States to hold suspected terrorists at length without criminal charges.
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.’