Today’s Washington Post has an absolutely fascinating story about how Guantanamo’s holding area for enemy combatants and others came to be – including how the strategy was developed.. it’s a very interesting read:
There was little debate over how to classify those suspected of fighting for al Qaeda. The terrorist group was not a country and had never been a party to the Geneva conventions. Moreover, al Qaeda members intentionally killed civilians. Suspected terrorists captured by U.S. forces, the lawyers agreed, should be classified as enemy combatants and not given legal status as prisoners of war.
The status of Taliban fighters was less clear. Some lawyers reasoned that Afghanistan had signed the Geneva conventions and that the Taliban was recognized by some nations as a legitimate government, though not by the United States. These lawyers thought the Taliban fighters should be granted prisoner-of-war status, entitling them to certain rights and protections.
Other lawyers disagreed, arguing that the Taliban fighters should also be classified as enemy combatants.
“They were basically a criminal gang,” said a former Justice Department lawyer who participated in the strategy sessions and requested anonymity because of the confidential nature of the deliberations. “They massacred civilians. They summarily executed prisoners. If people violate the core notion of the law, they shouldn’t receive prisoner-of-war status. It’s reserved for honorable warriors.”
More later on my thoughts about this, I’m still digesting, and snorkeling awaits me….