New Bill Would Redefine 'Enemy Combatant'

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Photo reviewed by US military officials shows a recreation area in Camp VI in Guantanamo Bay where 70 prisonners are detained on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty)

When is a terrorist not a criminal but an enemy combatant? That distinction was one of the most important pieces of the so-called war on terror. Up until now, an "enemy combatant" was a term used to describe terrorists who were caught by the CIA or the military overseas. They were then held as prisoners of war in Guantanamo Bay and tried before a military tribunal. But does Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, commonly known as the 2009 "underwear bomber," qualify as an enemy combatant? When his plane landed in Detroit, police took him into custody and read him his Miranda rights. He was tried in a U.S. criminal court this October and is expected to be sentenced on January 12, 2012.

But a new bill is being debated on Capitol Hill that would redefine an enemy combatant as anyone who commits a terrorist act, even on U.S. soil. It would force the government to try those people before a military tribunal. Takeaway Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich talks more about this issue.

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