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March 13, 2009
11:55 AM

CONTACT: Constitution Project

Daniel Schuman

Administration Decision on 'Enemy Combatant' Definition Expected Today

Key Question of Whether Obama Administration Will Retain Bush Administration's Broad Definition of "Enemy Combatant" in Its Court Filing Responding to Lawsuits Brought by Guantanamo Detainees

WASHINGTON - March 13 - Today, the Obama administration is expected to file its response to a federal judge's order to define whom it may hold as an "enemy combatant." U.S. District Judge John Bates is overseeing habeas lawsuits filed by Guantanamo detainees challenging their detention.  

Judge Bates said he will not allow the trials to proceed without a definition of "enemy combatant" and asked the Obama administration to clarify by March 13 whether it will "refine" the Bush administration's definition of the term. In his order, Judge Bates explained that courts "must have a clear, uniform understanding of the key legal standard to be applied" before the trial on the merits of the case can begin.  

For background information on the lawsuits, and a reaction once the Obama administration files its response, the Constitution Project is pleased to make available Stephen Abraham, who is available from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. EST at 949-878-8608. 

A member of the Constitution Project's Liberty and Security Committee, Mr. Abraham retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 26 years of active and reserve service. He was the first officer to criticize publicly the operation of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, filing an affidavit before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Guantanamo detainee habeas case Boumediene v. Bush. He currently practices law in California.

The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at


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