Why is the US government selective about whom it classifies as a terrorist and about whom it condemns for targeting civilians?  Does it depend on which side they are fighting?   

From the NY Times: 

United Nations officials estimate that southern Lebanon is littered with one million unexploded bomblets, far outnumbering the 650,000 people living in the region. They are stuck in the branches of olive trees and the broad leaves of banana trees. They are on rooftops, mixed in with rubble and littered across fields, farms, driveways, roads and outside schools.As of Sept. 28, officials here said cluster bombs had severely wounded 109 people — and killed 18 others. Muhammad Hassan Sultan, a slender brown-haired 12-year-old, became a postwar casualty when the shrapnel from a cluster bomb cut into his head and neck. 

Why has Israel been allowed to use cluster bombs in civilian areas?  Unexploded cluster bombs basically function as land mines that are perilous to innocent civilians long after hostilities have ended.  Children are often the victims of unexploded cluster bombs because of their tendency to wander around in areas where they shouldn’t and to pick up things that look like toys. This has been a big problem in Afghanistan, where unexploded cluster bombs left there after the American attack have caused ongoing problems.  Cluster bombs are not very precise, so they’re not supposed to be used in civilian areas, but Israel used them when targeting civilian areas of

And from NPR this morning: 

Thirty years ago Friday, a Cuban airliner blew up in mid-air, killing all 73 people aboard.U.S. officials later concluded that a violently anti-Castro Cuban exile named Luis Posada Carriles helped plan the bombing. But Thursday the Justice Department refused to classify Posada, who is in jail for immigration violations, as a terrorist. 

Let me get this straight— The US government takes suspected terrorists, sometimes proved innocent, and locks them up in Cuba, denies them rights, and labels them enemy combatants.   

Then, the US government takes a notorious terrorist with a long resume, a Cuban, and locks him up in Texas where he is not only given access to US courts, but is held and charged as a criminal rather than a terrorist.   

What, precisely, does the “war on terrorism” mean in this context?  If it is a war against a “tactic” as some have said, rather than an entity, then it also seems to depend on who is using that tactic. Thus it is not only an open-ended war, but a war in which the enemy is selectively and subjectively defined.