A Spanish court has taken the first steps toward opening a criminal investigation into allegations that six former high-level Bush administration officials violated international law by providing the legal framework to justify the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, an official close to the case said.
Yep, it took a Spanish court to do what our government ought to have done by now. No excuses.
The six are (list taken from dday at Washington Monthly):
- former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
- John Yoo, the Justice Department attorney who authored the infamous “torture memo”
- Jay Bybee, Yoo’s superior at the Office of Legal Counsel, also involved in the creation of torture memos
- David Addington, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and legal adviser
- Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy
- William Haynes, the legal counsel at the DoD
Dday also says,
I would call this a big deal. As the report notes, Garzon indicted Augusto Pinochet, which led to his arrest and extradition. This would not immediately lead to arrest and trial, but it would certainly confine the six officials to the United States and increase the pressure for stateside investigations. Spanish courts have “universal jurisdiction” over human rights abuses, under a 1985 law, particularly if they can be linked to Spain.
The case was opened in the Spanish national security court, the Audencia Nacional. In July 2006, the Spanish Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a former Spanish citizen who had been held in Guantánamo, labeling the regime established in Guantánamo a “legal black hole.” The court forbade Spanish cooperation with U.S. authorities in connection with the Guantánamo facility. The current criminal case evolved out of an investigation into allegations, sustained by Spain’s Supreme Court, that the Spanish citizen had been tortured in Guantánamo.
The Spanish criminal court now may seek the arrest of any of the targets if they travel to Spain or any of the 24 nations that participate in the European extraditions convention (it would have to follow a more formal extradition process in other countries beyond the 24). The Bush lawyers will therefore run a serious risk of being apprehended if they travel outside of the United States.
Again, this should have been done by our government already.