The Very Strange New DoD Detainee Directive

On August 19, the Department of Defense apparently issued a new version of “Directive 2310.01E,” which, if you haven’t been scoring at home, is one of the central documents outlining the policies and rules applicable to the DoD Detainee Program (think Guantánamo and, at least for a few more months, Bagram). The last time the Directive was updated appears to have been in September 2006–right at the same time as the high-value detainees were moved from CIA detention at various foreign black sites to Guantánamo (when there would have been pretty good reasons for the government to revisit the DoD’s internal rules). The August 19 Directive “cancels” the September 2006 version.

Although I don’t want to prejudge the merits, I thought it would be helpful to flag at least some of the other issues that appear from the text of the new Directive at first blush, and endeavor to do so below the fold.

Why now?: 

The timing of the release of the “reissued” Directive is perhaps the most perplexing question it raises–why now? As with the September 2006 version, is there some policy shift in the works for which updated rules were necessary? Some reason why DoD is all of a sudden worried about clarifying, across the board, its own understanding of the scope of its detention authority and the rules governing its detention facilities? If so, what is the catalyst–and how (if at all) does it help explain some of the subtle but undeniable shifts in policy the new Directive appears to encapsulate?...

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