Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Jamie Frueh

Degree Award Date

Spring 2005


Bush Administration, Enemy Combatants, Geneva Conventions, International Humanitarian Law, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, abuse, torture


American Politics | International Relations | Political Science


Pick up a newspaper or turn on the news and you are likely to hear about the conflict in Iraq; in 2004, you may have been likely to have heard mention or seen pictures of abuse in Abu Ghraib. However, although reports of abuse in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay abound, reports do not discuss why or how abuse and torture could happen. With this paper, I seek to answer that question.

In order to get at this question - why did abuse and torture occur in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib - I examined primary and secondary source evidence. I not only examined scholarship and news articles on the abuse scandals, I also examined Bush's own words from his speeches and memos written within the administration. I also contacted two members of the Army National Guard and interviewed them both concerning training on the Geneva Conventions, the abuse scandals at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, and general perceptions of the current conflict.

In order to discuss Bush's "enemy combatants," this study first looks at the foundation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) by looking at the formation and coverage of the Geneva Conventions to understand the context for the current conflict. I also discuss the concept of terrorism as the stepping stone for the current conflict with Iraq, and propose a definition of terrorism, hoping to alleviate confusion and provide a common ground for reducing the effectiveness of terrorism as a tactic in the current world arena. Finally, this study looks at Bush Administration policy and practice in regards to the abuse scandals of Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, suggesting abuse scandals are a result of US policy.