"Enemy combatants" at Gitmo


Well-Known Member
Nov 5, 2007
This is a sticky one. In a conventional war it's easy (in most cases) to say who's a civilian and who's a soldier, and when the war is over there's usually an exchange of prisoners except for war crimes tribunals and all that stuff.

In this case, though, the soldiers are civilians and there's no one to negotiate a peace treaty with. The question is, should terrorists be treated like enemy soldiers or like international criminals?

It's arguable that people who are behaving like soldiers (aka "enemy combatants") should be treated like prisoners of war (including abiding by the Geneva convention). But, how long do you hold them? If they can't be charged with any kind of war crime, what do you do? If you release them there's the risk that they'll rejoin their buddies and continue to engage in terrorist activities, but there's also the possibility that they'll go home. How do you determine that? And at what point does someone cross the line from "criminal" to "enemy combatant"?