Friday, April 08, 2005

Pentagon's Plan Would Expand Its Enemy List

By NEIL A. LEWIS
“Pentagon planners are proposing that military commanders be authorized to declare someone an enemy combatant and detain him if he belongs to any of hundreds of suspected terrorist organizations, a human rights group said on Thursday.

The extensive list of groups suspected of terrorism is part of a 142-page draft proposal to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that is intended to provide an all-inclusive guide for military commanders on their obligations and authority for detaining people.

Executive Order 13224, currently 92 pages, contains common names and aliases like “Mohammad Zia” and “Abdullah Ahmed,” shared by tens of thousands of persons worldwide, and names groups that are neither at war with nor engaged in terrorism against the United States, such as the Basque separatist group ETA; the Sword of David or American Friends of the United Yeshiva Movement; and the Real Irish Republican Army.

“This policy could strip hundreds of thousands of people worldwide—including civilians—of their basic rights not to arbitrarily detained,” said Roth.

John Sifton, a senior official of Human Rights Watch who provided the document, said it was a radical departure for the government to assert that membership in such a broad range of groups could qualify a person to be deemed an enemy combatant, a term that has previously been used mostly for members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The government has used the term "enemy combatant" for detainees who are not covered by the protections of the Geneva Conventions. The Bush administration has argued that such detainees may be held indefinitely, unlike prisoners of war, who must be released when combat ends.

“ The new policies, set out in a 142-page final draft document prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff entitled “Joint Publication 3-63: Joint Doctrine for Detainee Operations,”include a directive that would allow the military to hold enemy combatants as “ghost detainees,” by denying access to them by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The guidelines also specify that humane treatment of all detainees can be limited by “military necessity,” a position that is both contrary to international and domestic law and opens the door to mistreatment and even torture of detainees.

‘Instead of correcting current violations of the Geneva Conventions, these guidelines would shred the conventions further,’ said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. ‘The policies set out in this document could even require personnel to commit war crimes.’ ”

Military personnel can be criminally liable for stripping protected persons of their rights under the conventions.

The guidelines formalize a new category of detainee, “enemy combatants,” in connection with “the Global War on Terror” who are “not entitled to the privileges and protection of the Geneva Conventions.” The document then cites an extensive and expanding list of “terrorists and terrorist groups” identified under President Bush’s 2001 Executive Order 13224, and states: “Anyone detained that is affiliated with these organizations will be classified as EC [Enemy Combatant].”

Executive Order 13224, currently 92 pages, contains common names and aliases like “Mohammad Zia” and “Abdullah Ahmed,” shared by tens of thousands of persons worldwide, and names groups that are neither at war with nor engaged in terrorism against the United States, such as the Basque separatist group ETA; the Sword of David or American Friends of the United Yeshiva Movement; and the Real Irish Republican Army.

“This policy could strip hundreds of thousands of people worldwide—including civilians—of their basic rights not to arbitrarily detained,” said Roth.

The Pentagon document has not yet been publicly released, and is set to be submitted to Secretary Rumsfeld for approval on April 16. Human Rights Watch called on Secretary Rumsfeld to reject the proposed guidelines.


Pentagon Detention Guidelines Entrench Illegality
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/04/07/usdom10440.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/08/politics/08joint.html
con·cept: Pentagon's Plan Would Expand Its Enemy List