The day Abu Ghraib was publicized was a horrific day. To see all of the pictures on TV and have the images seared in our eyes upset many people. The accusations were sickening and while America expected action they did not expect what they received.
In the Geneva Convention of 1949, which discusses the treatment of not only Prisoners of War (POW) but also the treatment of combatants, it states that all are to be treated humanely. While the Convention was detailed in spelling out what treatment was acceptable and what types were unacceptable it was only specific towards the POWs’ treatment not the illegal combatants. Therefore one was forced to read between the lines and draw their own conclusions on what was and was not acceptable. This is exactly what the Bush Administration did. Bush embraced the loop holes of the convention, and when the Abu Ghraib issue arose he created his defenses. The administration was careful not to relate Abu Ghraib with torture, instead using words like abuse, humiliation, and embarrassment. By avoiding the word torture they created a situation that was “lawful” in the sense that they were not violating the Geneva Convention because they had not tortured anybody, although what is defined as torture and what is defined as “abuse” was not specified.
Another question the president was forced to ask himself during this time was how hard should he try to follow the international laws and at what point should he only consider America’s safety. While the safety of America should always be the president’s first concern, angering other countries could be a poor strategic move for America. Fortunately we are not the president and do not have to make these decisions, but if we did what would we do? I believe the president acted justly in identifying the abuse as abuse and humiliation, avoiding torture. I also believe that although the soldiers made grave mistakes Bush’s decision to allow them an American trial was beneficial to them.
While these are controversial issues they are also important. Understanding the president’s thought process helps the American people comprehend not only his actions but also the reasons behind his actions.