Last updated on: 6/12/2008 8:51:00 AM PST
What is the difference between an enemy combatant, an unlawful combatant, and a prisoner of war?
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
The Military Commissions Act of 2006, passed by Congress on Jan. 3, 2006 and signed into law by President Bush on Oct. 17, 2006, stated:
"The term 'lawful enemy combatant' means a person who is:
The term 'unlawful enemy combatant' means:
Oct. 17, 2006 - The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (130 KB)
Article IV of the Aug. 12, 1949 Geneva Convention defined "prisoner of war" with the following criteria:
of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging
to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of
Aug. 12, 1949 - Geneva Convention (135 KB)
William J. Haynes II, JD, General Counsel of the US Department of Defense, wrote in a Dec. 12, 2002 memo to the Council on Foreign Relations:
"'Enemy combatant' is a general category that subsumes two sub-categories: lawful and unlawful combatants...Lawful combatants receive prisoner of war (POW) status and the protections of the Third Geneva Convention. Unlawful combatants do not receive POW status and do not receive the full protections of the Third Geneva Convention.
The President has determined that al Qaida members are unlawful combatants because (among other reasons) they are members of a non-state actor terrorist group that does not receive the protections of the Third Geneva Convention. He additionally determined that the Taliban detainees are unlawful combatants because they do not satisfy the criteria for POW status set out in Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention."
Dec. 12, 2002 - William J. Haynes, II, JD
W. Hays Parks, JD, Defense Department Attorney and Former Special Assistant to the Army Judge Advocate General (JAG), in an Apr. 7, 2003 Department of Defense Briefing on Humane Treatment of Iraqi and US POWs Under Geneva Convention, stated:
"The fundamental difference between an unlawful combatant and the prisoner of war is that a regular soldier, if he kills an enemy soldier, has committed a lawful act. An unlawful combatant, by its term, suggests that this person did not have authority to go onto the battlefield and engage in the killing of enemy soldiers or the attack of military property."
Apr. 7, 2003 - W. Hays Parks, JD