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What is your favourite terrorist weapon?
Explosive Shoes 8%
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Dirty Bomb 0%
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Votes: 24

 Are you an Enemy Combatant?

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Aug 18, 2002
"Enemy Combatant" is a phrase invented by the US Government in the aftermath of 9/11. There is no clear definition of exactly what an "Enemy Combatant" is, however if the president designates a person under this phrase they can be detained indefinitely without charge or trial by the authorities, with no right to appeal and no right to a lawyer - even if they are a US citizen.


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So the question remains, are YOU an "Enemy Combatant?".

"Of course not!", you will probably say. Afterall you are no enemy to your own country! Surely this description is used for terrorists!"

Well that's what the government want you to think - they cleverly worded the term "Enemy Combatant", the phrase conjures up images of terrorists actively attacking the US. However, in truth the phrase is completely empty in meaning. As I have said before, there is no definition of what an "Enemy Combatant" is. You do not have to be a terrorist or even a criminal to be designated as one. Rather than the seemingly specific term "Enemy Combatant" they might as well have used the more realistic one, "Human Being".

It is the President of the United States who designates people as "Enemy Combatants" on information passed to him via the military or intelligence agencies. There is no right to appeal such a decision and noone is allowed to see the evidence for the designation. In effect it gives the President the power to indefinitely detain any US citizen without trial, charge or an explanation. Tell me what the difference is between Indefinite Detention and Indefinite Imprisonment? There is no difference.

I'm not a US citizen but I recognise this situation as being the exact kind of senario which the US constitution was written to prevent. Although I don't personally believe the president will abuse this power, I do believe he is making it very easy for government officials and future presidents to do so. Currently I think there are only two US citizens who have been casted as "Enemy Combatants" but Bush is hoping to expand this.

The threat

You can sit there and say "I am not an enemy combatant" but all it would take was a unfriendly neighbour to make a dishonest tipoff to the police and you will suddenly find out that you are one.

US citizens of Middle Eastern appearence are especially threatened by this new power. After 9/11 people view them with suspicion and although this is somewhat justified, it could lead to a situation where a jumpy person could very well misinterpret a situation and cause the imprisonment of an honest person.

I was on holiday in the US last week. I knew that I hadn't commited any crimes and I knew that even if the police made a mistake and arrested me, I would be able to prove my innocence in court.

However, if the US Government made a mistake and detained me as an Enemy Combatant I would have been screwed. Of course I didn't worry about such an event happening. There have only been two people detained as Enemy Combatants so far. But next year how many will there be? 20? 50? At what point should I start worrying about there being a mistake?

International Impact

Another worrying consequence of this situation is that hostile countries in the world could use this power themselves. The US government has basically used the phrase "Enemy Combatant" to circumvene the Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners of war. The US government argues that "Enemy Combatants" are not "Prisoners of War" and therefore don't fall under the Geneva Convention (and hence don't get any protection or rights at all).

Now imagine you travel to a foreign country as a tourist, it doesn't matter where. You arrive there and they suddenly imprison you without trial as an Enemy Combatant. Could the US Government do anything to get you released? It seems unlikely when they are doing exactly the same thing in their own country. I imagine they would also have trouble getting any sort of international support.

Here's an interesting question: Could any country other than the US have avoided the Geneva Convention in this way? No, I don't think so. Imagine if Iraq had come up with the phrase "Enemy Combatant" last year. We would surely have had President Bush himself denouncing it as rubbish and maybe the hint of a few airstrikes.

The current US Government has carried out the amazing act of virtually voiding the Geneva Convention. Now any country that wants to mistreat prisoners of war or even foreign citizens can simply call them "Enemy Combatants" and be free of any accusations (other than hypocritical ones) that they are breaking the Geneva Convention.


Have fun... (none / 0) (#1)
by tkatchev on Sun Aug 18th, 2002 at 12:41:43 PM PST in an eastern-style tyranny. This is one of the downsides of living in a place where global traderoutes meet -- on one hand, you get the benefits of cross-cultural exchange, like cheap Chinese food and meeting exciting people and visiting strange places, and on the other hand, there is the unpleasant trade-off of having to lick the boots of your feudal overlord and spying on your dog-eat-dog neighbors.

One reassuring thing I can tell you, though, is that oriental despotships usually don't last very long -- usually, just a single generation or so; when the current batch of warlords kill themselves off the whole machine sort of runs out of steam.

Peace and much love...

LOFL LOL ROTFLMAO etc etc ad nauseum. (none / 0) (#2)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Aug 18th, 2002 at 01:16:14 PM PST
There's a Chinese saying, I cannot remember it exactly, but it goes something like: "thirty years on one side of the river, thirty years on the other". Perhaps one of our more educated correspondants knows the saying to which I am referring and could fill us in.

its the media's fault... (none / 0) (#3)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Aug 19th, 2002 at 11:02:57 PM PST
You see if thay hadn't bitched useing war tribunal trials in the first place we wouldn't be in this mess... but then I've had a tendency to blame everything on the media lately

Foreigners (none / 0) (#4)
by Anonymous Reader on Tue Aug 20th, 2002 at 03:51:54 PM PST
Non US citizens should be hung up by their thumbs and whipped with wet ropes as part of the visa acquisition process. Hands up all in favor, please.


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