There are lots of unanswered questions. I'm just trying to think this through as it evolves. I hear what the civil libertarians are saying, and I understand their concerns, but I'm willing to cut Obama some slack until these questions get answered.
The problem, as I understand it, is to define what a combatant is as contrasted with a terrorist. The second is a criminal who can be tried; the first when captured is a POW who can be detained without trial until the end of hostilities. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are real wars with clearly defined combatants. The War on Terror is not a real war; it's more like an operation designed to destroy a criminal mob, like the drug cartels. But are members of al Qaeda, for instance, clearly criminals and not combatants? Does it depend on where and how you capture them? And what about Talibanis? Do they wear uniforms or dog tags? What are we doing with POWs captured in Iraq and Afghanistan now? Why are these Guantanamo detainees any different? They seem not to fit into any easy-to-define category, and that' where the problem lies for the Obama administration.
If this special class of captive in Guantanamo comprises people we know to be trained al Qaeda operatives, even if they have not been captured on the battlefield, my inclination is to treat them as POWs and detain them with other POWs in Iraq and Afghanistan following Geneva rules wherever we are detaining them now. You could ask, "How do we know that they are al Qaeda operatives? Maybe in some cases it's clear. Maybe in some cases they willingly admit it. Is that reason enough to detain them even if they haven't been caught in the act? I'm not sure. The gray area is in defining the criteria of certainty about a captive's hostile commitment toward the U.S. or other nations. I'm willing to let Obama make his case and then judge.