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“The president has the authority to detain persons”
The Obama administration said Friday that it would abandon the Bush administration’s term “enemy combatant” as it argues in court for the continued detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in a move that seemed intended to symbolically separate the new administration from Bush detention policies.
[efoods]But in a much anticipated court filing, the Justice Department argued that the president has the authority to detain terrorism suspects there without criminal charges, much as the Bush administration had asserted. It provided a broad definition of those who can be held, which was not significantly different from the one used by the Bush administration.
The filing signaled that, as long as Guantánamo remains open, the new administration will aggressively defend its ability to hold some detainees there.
“The president has the authority to detain persons” who planned or aided the 2001 terrorist attacks as well as those “who were part of, or substantially supported, Taliban or Al Qaeda forces,” administration lawyers wrote.
The Obama administration said it was relying on existing principles of the international law of war. A public statement indicated that the government was moving away from claims of expansive executive power often used by the Bush administration to justify Guantánamo.
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