Obama vs. Bush: Guantanamo Bay

Topics: George W. Bush, War on Terrorism, Osama bin Laden Pages: 5 (1544 words) Published: April 29, 2009

Every moment in America post 9/11, in accordance to foreign policy, is critical. The results of the attack were perceived differently from both sides of the newly phrased “war on terror.” For the victims of the attack, revenge, justice and security were envisioned and for the attackers, revenge and justice were achieved. The newly imposed threats called upon swift and dramatic changes in the policymakers tactics in order to combat the massive blow to their infrastructure. The policymakers answered with the Bush Doctrine. After witnessing the attempt, in many aspects successful, the Obama administration is attempting another route. The Obama administration wishes to expose the tactics, that can be proven a success, and follow the guidelines of upholding its administrations democratic values . The Bush administration was successful in protecting its citizens from mass-murder terror attacks for the duration of its terms and has been replaced by an administration that upholds very different measures in combating terror. This paper will explore the legally approved torture tactics approved by the Bush administration in Guantanamo Bay, to the dismantlement of the prison and court-bound procedures taken by the Obama administration.

America under attack

Regardless of what policy was held or whether intelligence was faulted, the attack on 9/11 left the Bush administration and America the victims of a new and unconventional war. As Bush was flying back to Washington with little early information given, including only 'the confirmation of two commercial airliners crashing into the World Trade Center and Osama Bin Ladin as the main suspect, as well as flying over the sight of the pentagon on fire,'[1] Bush was quoted as saying “That's 21st century warfare you have just witnessed.”[2] Bush had to shift all his concentration away from domestic issues to the new war on terror, and the new threats that followed. The Bush doctrine addressed a large variety of subjects, but this paper will explore the Bush administrations tactics in prisoner treatment in Guantanamo Bay. Firstly, the 9/11 Commission Report discusses its intentions of how it will uphold international law in accordance with the Geneva Convention. The recommendation states the following, “The United States should engage its friends in developing a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists.”[3] The key point that needs to be noted in this recommendation is the sentence that follows, “New principles might draw upon Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict.”[4] This sentence is crucial for how the Bush administration recognizes the Geneva Conventions details, the word “might” makes this recommendation open to interpretation. This leads to the second point, Bush's 'decision to announce that detainees of Guantanamo Bay captured in the war on terror would be tried by secret military tribunals. Following an initial outcry accusing Bush of dismissing the Geneva Convention,'[5] the Defense Departments case for this announcement, 'after reports surfaced of inhuman abuse to the prisoners, was followed with an argument of historical proof of how both Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt used military tribunals for non lawful combatants, concluding that Al-Qaeda operatives were not covered by the Geneva Convention as they are not part of any legally constituted army.'[6]

Prevention through torture tactics

Since 9/11, there has been numerous large scale terror attacks worldwide, including London, Madrid and Mumbai. This begs the question, was the Bush administrations' tactics on prisoner treatment in Guantanamo Bay successful in keeping America safe from another large scale terror attack? The Bush administrations lawyers argued their case by citing “the sometimes vague language of the Geneva Conventions to support the idea that interrogators should not be bound by ironclad rules.”[7] They...
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