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I think he's sending a message, soldiers do what the leadership tells them, or signals to them, is most important to them. And I think its clear in this case you have the President, who also functions as the commander-in-chief, sending a message that he disagrees with decades, even centuries of legal precedent in the law of war.
It makes us sound very hypocritical in countries where were trying to help them develop the same kinds of moral, ethical military behavior that we try to model, i think in many ways it encourages our enemies, enemy combatants, to behave in a similar form. If we're not abiding by our own self-professed values, then why should they ?
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