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Change to military commissions bill would broaden scope

[JURIST] White House and Republican congressional negotiators decided over the weekend to move forward with a definitional change in proposed legislation [PDF text] on military commissions [JURIST news archive] that would broaden the meaning of "unlawful enemy combatant" and allow the detention and trial by commission of a larger spectrum of suspects, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. While the the language of the previous version [PDF text] agreed to by GOP leaders last Thursday defined "unlawful enemy combatant" as "an individual engaged in hostilities against the United States," the new definition also includes those "who [have] purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." It is unclear whether the new definition will apply to US citizens, but there is no express prohibition against such designation.

On Monday, the bill met bipartisan resistance [JURIST report] during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing [committee materials], despite pressure from the Bush administration to fast-track the legislation. The House Judiciary Committee approved a version of the bill [HR 6054 summary] last Wednesday. The Washington Times has additional coverage.

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