U.S. reverses policy, drops ‘enemy combatant’ term

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.

In a court filing in Washington, the Justice Department said it is developing a new standard for the government’s authority to hold detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. The announcement says the Justice Department will no longer rely on the the president’s authority as commander in chief, but on authority specifically granted by Congress. And the government document says that individuals who support al Qaeda or the Taliban are detainable only if the support was “substantial.” The category of “enemy combatant” had been an important aspect of the Bush administration’s legal construct for dealing with terrorism suspects.