Pace Law Review
In President Obama’s first year in office, he failed in combating al-Qa’eda, the Taliban, and associated forces. President Obama wished to change the perception on the ‘War on Terror’ established by the Bush Administration, but instead created more confusion and frustration in an attempt to change old policies.
Most notably, President Obama refused to irrevocably and sternly tell the American public that the conflict with al-Qa’eda was indeed a war. The Bush Administration’s first action taken after 9/11 was the pronouncement that the United States was at war. President Obama instead referred to the conflict as an “overseas contingency operation.” This caused confusion because President Obama was bringing members of al-Qa’eda to federal court as enemy combatants, an illegal act if the United States is not at war.
Similarly, days after taking office, President Obama ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay within one year, the suspension of all military commissions, and the suspension of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. He failed in all but one of those endeavors: Guantanamo Bay is still open and military commissions should soon restart. However, President Obama was successful in amending the Convention Against Torture to include waterboarding as a violation of international law.
President Obama has failed to create distinct and clear policies to separate himself from the Bush Administration. He must forcefully acknowledge that America is at war and institutionalize comprehensive policies that are fully rooted in the context of the law of war.
Jeffrey F. Addicott, Efficacy of the Obama Policies to Combat Al-Qa’eda, the Taliban, and Associated Forces—The First Year , 30 Pace L. Rev. 340 (2010).