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George W. Bush and the War on Terror

50 min
  • Should accused foreign terrorists be afforded all constitutional due process protections?

Students will:

  • Understand President George W. Bush’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
  • Analyze constitutional arguments on the nature of terrorist acts.
  • Evaluate whether accused foreign terrorists should be afforded all constitutional due process protections.

  • Handout A: George W. Bush and the War on Terror
  • Handout B: September Eleventh True or False
  • Handout C: Data Points

To create a context for this lesson, have students complete Constitutional Connection: War and the Constitution.

Have students read Handout A: George W. Bush and the War on Terror and answer the questions.

Project Handout B: September Eleventh True or False. Revealing one statement at a time, ask the class to respond to each statement. Then reveal and discuss each answer.

On the board, write the question: Are acts of terror acts of war, or are they criminal acts?

Distribute Handout C: Data Points. Have students discuss the chart in pairs.

After ten or fifteen minutes, reconvene the class and ask students to share their responses.

As a large group, discuss the questions:

  • In 2001, to what degree was Bush’s response consistent with historical precedent?
  • The President has the constitutional duty to enforce the law, as well as the constitutional role of Commander in Chief of the military. How should the President understand these roles with respect to terrorism?
  • How should the President respond when an attack is by an “unconventional enemy,” i.e. one not officially associated with a foreign state?
  • What arguments did Bush offer to justify his argument that accused foreign terrorists should not be afforded all constitutional due process protections?
  • What arguments could be made that they should be afforded all those protections?

Have students make an illustrated timeline of major national events, federal legislation, and Supreme Court cases about the War on Terror since September 11, 2001. They should use Handout A as well as their textbooks or other resources. Each event should be accompanied by two or three sentences explaining its significance.

Have students do additional research to compare and contrast the legal treatment of admitted and/or accused terrorists under the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration.