Judge Adopts Definition of Enemy Combatant that Matches the Pentagon’s

A federal judge’s definition of the term “enemy combatant” matches that used by the Pentagon in 2004 and more than 550 tribunals that reviewed the status of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon of Washington, D.C., will use the definition as he decides an estimated two dozen habeas petitions by detainees challenging their continued confinement, report SCOTUSblog and the Associated Press.

He found that “enemy combatant” means someone who supported or was part of the Taliban or al-Qaida, or associated forces that are engaged in hostile acts against the United States or its allies. The federal government had proposed a more expanded definition, and the habeas lawyers had promoted a more restrictive definition.

Leon said in his order (PDF posted by SCOTUSblog) that he opted to choose the definition crafted by the Department of Defense and blessed by Congress rather than “engage in judicial craftsmanship.”

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