[JURIST] In a letter [text] sent to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Thursday, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, slammed the Defense Department's proposed changes to the guidelines concerning the detention of enemy combatants for violating protections outlined in the Geneva Conventions. The Joint Doctrine for Detainee Operations [PDF] extends the enemy combatant status normally reserved for members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban to anyone affiliated with terrorists or terrorist groups listed under a presidential order. In addition, the guidelines specify that humane treatment of detainees can be limited by “military necessity”. The HRW letter contends that the guidelines "[d]en[y] the protections of the Geneva Conventions to persons apprehended" and "represents a radical deviation from the standards that have traditionally guided US. military operations". Nearly 540 detainees are currently held as enemy combatants at Guantanamo. AP has more.