Ten years ago today, President George W. Bush signed a two-page memorandum called "Humane Treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda Detainees." The memorandum, drafted in part by John Yoo, is now best known as the first of the so-called "terror memos." It argued that the government was exempt from the Geneva Conventions in any war on terror-related investigations, as, the document asserts, the treaty refers only to "High Contracting Parties."
As stateless enemies, the Taliban and al-Qaeda were therefore not covered by the Geneva Conventions. When the U.S. government engaged in such controversial interrogation methods as waterboarding, it was this two-page document that first gave the military license to do so.
Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA Bin Laden Tracking Unit and adjunct professor at Georgetown University's Center for Peace and Security Studies, discusses the memo's impact and legacy.