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A phrase used by United States officials to describe people captured in the 'war on terror' in Afghanistan.

Use of the term caused widespread international criticism, particularly from human rights groups. According to the Geneva Convention it is not up to the United States to classify the prisoners. Ignoring this, the Bush administration refused to classify them as prisoners of war, which would have granted them certain rights under the Geneva Convention. Conversely, it also refused to classify them as ordinary criminals, which would also grant certain rights under the US constitution.

This ploy may backfire on US forces should they be captured by a hostile regime, as they may find themselves similarly classified. The whole situation is reminiscent of Cold War diplomacy in which international law was ignored when it was an inconvenience and championed when the opposition was breaking it.

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