Spanish Inquiry on Torture

Marlise Simons, New York Times:

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.

Scott Horton at Harper’s explains,

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.

16 thoughts on “Spanish Inquiry on Torture

  1. And as everyone knows, nobody expects a Spanish Inquiry.

    Seriously, though, this phrase:

    Garzon indicted Augusto Pinochet

    makes me think, gee, this might really work. Now, how can we trick those six asshats into traveling to Spain?

  2. I recall that Rumsfeld had to flee France in 2007 because of similar charges. Most conservatives I know, despite their wealth, don’t travel anywhere outside the US, and so this set of criminals probably could care less what Spain or any other country does. The hope is that Spain’s action will light a fire over here. Our country is so f@#%ing pathetic.

  3. I won’t get my hopes up..but it is a nice fantasy to entertain the notion that somebody should be held to account. It’s beyond established that America has engaged in torture and for Obama to try and navigate some moral high road of looking ahead as opposed to looking back is an obvious mistake.

    For all Obama’s seemingly insightful display of spiritual understanding with morally laced rhetoric, I can’t understand why he doesn’t openly acknowledge what the world already knows. Unfortunately this whole business of torture is not Bush’s, Cheney’s, or the six named in the Spanish filings shame…it’s America’s shame, and we should address it if we hope to heal as a nation. It won’t go away until we do!

  4. I assume the Obama Administration doesn’t want to take on criminal investigations of the previous administration while it is trying to push through so much vital legislation, like the budget. They probably believe it would create a political climate in which no progress is possible. However, if that’s their view I think it’s a mistaken one.

  5. I agree that WE need to do the investigating, as well as any court proceedings. But, at least someone, somewhere has opened a door.

    What do you think will make them talk the most, the (comfy) chair or the (dish)rack?

  6. Maha,

    I agree, mostly, with your comment. But, perhaps the calculus is that the financial situation is so dire that they do not want to chance an investigation until some stability is in place. Maybe.

    Also, I wonder if the Spanish court has any “Statute of Limitations” on war crimes.

  7. It’s entirely possible, of course, that Justice is already investigating, quietly because of the current political climate. Despite the targets, I do believe that criminal investigations should be as secret as possible, both to “protect the rights” (almost can’t believe I said that) of the targets, and to minimize the possibility of the targets actively working against the investigation.

  8. Gulag,

    Cardinal Biggles wielding the soft cushion. No question. (Frankly, I’d like to be the one to use it to bat Doug Feith about the head.)

  9. I assume the Obama Administration doesn’t want to take on criminal investigations of the previous administration while it is trying to push through so much vital legislation, like the budget.

    I suspect that even if a full slate of urgent legislation passed, the Obama administration wouldn’t encourage Congressional investigations of Bushco, because they’d fear such investigations would be seen by the public as vindictive and partisan. Not that I agree with that reasoning, either.

    I know a lot of people consider Vince Bugliosi to be a bit of a crackpot for writing The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, but I read his book, and to me it presented a sensible and possible– if very unlikely– scenario. Bugliosi knows pure evil when he sees it, having stared Charles Manson in the face for weeks on end during the Tate-LoBianco trial. Bugliosi makes it quite clear he thinks both Bush and Cheney are evil. He’s also convinced they are guilty of murder, according to established legal definitions of the crime. (Remember, he obtained a conviction of Manson, when Manson never went anywhere near the murder scenes, or ordered the killing of specific persons.)

    Since there’s no statute of limitations for murder in the U.S., Bugliosi points out that for the rest of their lives, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and possibly others will have it dangling over their heads that, at any time, a county, state or federal prosecutor may bring murder and conspiracy charges against them, for intentional acts that willfully, recklessly and directly caused the deaths of American soldiers in the phony war in Iraq. Bugliosi also argues that the court in the Hague has no jurisdiction, I believe because the U.S. refused to sign the War Crimes prosecution treaty. So hauling the Bushco crowd off to the Hague is an even less likely scenario than criminal prosecution brought by some jurisdiction in the U.S.

    But, anyway, a girl can dream.

  10. Haven’t you heard? The United States refuses to recognize even the authority of the ICC, much less anyone else. This Spanish Inquiry is a feel-good piece of news, but I don’t believe it will get us anywhere. Unless, of course the other 5 decide to throw the 6th to the wolves. Might be fun of they sent Gonzales for a nice R&R on the Spanish Riviera…

  11. Can we take up a collection and buy ‘Berto,Feith, Rummy, Cheney, and Yoo a paid vacation to Madrid?
    I’ll sell some plasma if need be……………

  12. I always come to Mahablog for quiet intelligence and always find it. Still, for some reason, our American sense of immunity has been getting under my skin since about 6 this morning when I heard David Gergen bloviating on NPR. Okay: Garzón is a remarkably effective prosecutor and an even more effective moral voice. More power to him. I hope he can pull this one off, but I hope even more that we do it before he does, reclaiming at least a few square inches of the acres of high ground we’ve lost during the past decade.

    Europeans (the French mostly today) are getting very vocal and angry about the spread of our diseases into their financial and political systems and our uncute unwillingness to even acknowledge our responsibility. A lot of Americans (count me in) are worried not just about our reputation as a nation among many nations, but about whether even our best friends are beginning to get really angry at us. It’s no longer just about whether the DOJ or the White House are willing to take steps, it’s whether the average American is seen to acknowledge responsibility for the past decade. I don’t mean just you and me. I mean a huge number of Americans, enough to make Congress and the executive think twice about ducking their obligations to domestic and international law.

    What I hope and sometimes even believe is what Dave S. wrote (above) — that “it’s entirely possible, of course, that Justice is already investigating, quietly because of the current political climate.” Of course, it’s up to us to change the political climate to the point where the Constitution becomes more important to all of us than our political hang-ups. It’s up to us to make sure the results of any investigations don’t become political footballs.

  13. Joanr16, thank you for giving a shout out to Vincent Bugliosi’s book “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.” I have this book and highly recommend it. Unfortunately, because of the establishment pressure, I don’t know if the Justice Department will investigate Bush, Cheney & company.

  14. PW,
    I am sick of this shit. It either is, is it either ain’t…
    And, as we all know, it ‘either is!”
    As, I believe, moonbat, swami and others have written, “WE need to do it ourselves!”
    Torture is what it is. ‘Torture is, as torture does…”
    If you supported torture, you should not be allowed to hide behind words. Shakespeare couldn’t write word’s pretty enough to hide the truth.
    If you did it, “Man-up!”
    You thought it was right at the time.
    The fact that you decided to ignore centuries of evidence contrary to that is ok. “Man-up!”
    You were WRONG! Now, face up to the consequences…
    And those consequences shoud be as brutal as your stupid, evil decisions!!!

  15. I saw Rachel Maddow do a story on this. Was on Facebook so I looked for a cause to support Spain’s torture inquiry. I couldnt find one so I made one 🙂

    New cause to support Spain’s inquiry of Bush admin officials who created a legal framework to justify torture in violation of the Geneva Convention.

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