Legal proceedings have started against Uribe over the last month in Colombia and in Europe, including claims that the former leader was involved in the murder of a Colombian mayor and helped orchestrate a spying campaign in Europe against human rights groups.
That tone contrasts sharply with the support Uribe has enjoyed in Washington for battling drugs and stepping up the fight against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has waged civil war against the state for decades and killed Uribe's father in a kidnapping attempt in 1983.
In the final month of his presidency, Bush awarded Uribe with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And at a joint press conference at the White House in June 2009, President Barack Obama commended Uribe on "the progress that has been made in human rights in Colombia."
Many academics, religious figures, and nonprofit organizations see Uribe's legacy in a different light, and have been organizing protests and signing petitions against him.
Last week a petition of 100 groups and people who opposed Uribe's receipt of an award from a Madrid university was published. Signatories included Adolfo Perez Esquivel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner from Argentina.
And anti-Uribe protests are slated to resume Wednesday at Georgetown University, where Uribe started teaching in September as a visiting scholar.
"Whether security has improved has nothing to do with war crimes or crimes against humanity," said Marc Chernick, a professor of Latin American government studies at Georgetown. Chernick was one of eight Georgetown professors who joined more than 140 other academics in the U.S. and Colombia in signing a petition condemning Uribe.
"The state has right to defend itself, but not to 'disappear' people," Chernick said.
Uribe's critics contend that the former attorney masterminded policies that promoted spying and intimidation of journalists, judges and human rights leaders, and led to mass murder and the uprooting of millions from their homes.
In a particularly grim case that surfaced in 2008, known as the "false positives" scandal, Colombian Army soldiers lured scores of peasants away from their homes with the promise of jobs, but then killed them and dressed the bodies in fatigues to make them look like vanquished guerrillas. The soldiers' falsified success earned them higher pay and extra vacation days.
"Uribe put so much pressure on military forces to show results, and the way results are shown in Colombia are body counts," said Gimena Sanchez-Garzoli, the Colombia director at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group.
Critics also point out that during Uribe's reign, Colombia's population of internally displaced people reached 4.5 million, giving the country the distinction of having the world's second-highest number of people forced from their homes.
Uribe is generally credited with having made the average Colombian feel safer today than before 2002 by weakening guerrilla forces and debanding some paramilitary groups. His critics say those gains came at too high a price.
Yet the evidence isn't there to pin Uribe personally to atrocities, his supporters say.
"There have been so many attempts in the past to link Uribe personally to human rights violations, but that just hasn't happened," said Peter DeShazo, director of the not-for-profit Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There have been quite a few cases of prosecution of links to other Colombian politicians -- it is not an issue that is under the rug."
DeShazo, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said he believes atrocities in Colombia peaked just before Uribe came to power, in 2001-2003. Those responsible, he said, comprised mainly paramilitary groups to which Uribe hasn't been linked, as well as guerrilla groups like the FARC.
Yet Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are among several groups that protested against Uribe getting the presidential medal, arguing that Colombia had experienced a "dramatic increase" in extrajudicial killings of civilians under Uribe's term.
Javier Sanchez, president of Colombia's National Organization of Indigenous Peoples (ONIC), told AOL News he believes Uribe's policies have helped put 32 of Colombia's 82 indigenous groups at risk of extinction. A total of 1,417 indigenous people were murdered during Uribe's time in office, he said.
Gimena Sanchez-Garzoli, director of the Washington human rights group, said many indigenous people were killed as a result of Uribe's demonizing indigenous rights groups and human rights groups in general.
"If the president's saying, 'Hey, those people are terrorists,' – it gave a green light to paramilitaries to assassinate people," said Sanchez.