Spain Considering Criminal Cases Against Bush Administration Officials For Torture

If the Obama administration remains reluctant to prosecute crimes committed by the Bush administration, perhaps they will have to be handled like Augusto Pinochet. AP reports:

A Spanish court has agreed to consider opening a criminal case against six former Bush administration officials, including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, over allegations they gave legal cover for torture at Guantanamo Bay, a lawyer in the case said Saturday.

Human rights lawyers brought the case before leading anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to send it on to prosecutors to decide whether it had merit, Gonzalo Boye, one of the lawyers who brought the charges, told The Associated Press.

The ex-Bush officials are Gonzales; former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith; former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington; Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee; and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes.

Yoo declined to comment. A request for comment left with Feith through his Hudson Institute e-mail address was not immediately returned.

Spanish law allows courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes under a doctrine of universal justice, though the government has recently said it hopes to limit the scope of the legal process.

Garzon became famous for bringing charges against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, and he and other Spanish judges have agreed to investigate alleged abuses everywhere from Tibet to Argentina’s “dirty war,” El Salvador and Rwanda.

Still, the country’s record in prosecuting such cases has been spotty at best, with only one suspect extradited to Spain so far.

As that last paragraph shows, it remains questionable whether this is anything beyond a symbolic gesture. The article later answers why these particular people were chosen:

The officials are charged with providing a legal cover for interrogation methods like waterboarding against terrorism suspects at Guantanamo, which the Spanish human rights lawyers say amounted to torture.

Yoo, for instance, wrote a series of secret memos that claimed the president had the legal authority to circumvent the Geneva Conventions.

Prosecuting those who gave legal cover makes sense, but I would still concentrate on those at the top who gave the orders.

Scott Horton has more on this story at Harper’s.

The Washington Post looked at the results of torture  and found that the harsh treatment of Abu Zubaida did not foil any terrorist plots:

When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White House to get those secrets out of him.

The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.

In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.

Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. President George W. Bush had publicly described him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations,” and other top officials called him a “trusted associate” of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.

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  1. 1
    Rafael del Barco Carreras says:

    EL JUEZ GARZÓN Y GUANTÁNAMO.
     
    Rafael del Barco Carreras
     
    Abril 2009. Para quien ha pasado TRES AÑOS en La Modelo de Barcelona, 1980-3, que un juez español investigue GUANTÁNAMO, ya no es que sea una ininteligible falacia, que merece profundos estudios psiquiátricos o sicológicos, a la par que sociales e históricos… por el olvido colectivo de una perversión propia de las peores cárceles del TERCER o ningún Mundo.
    Garzón podría citar a todos los vecinos de unos 50 años de edad de alrededor del tétrico edificio que muchas noches, en masa, salieron al balcón gritando “asesinos, asesinos…” por los alaridos de los encadenados en LOS SÓTANOS DE LA QUINTA GALERÍA, perfectamente audibles. O consultar varios sumarios con “muertos”, verdaderos “asesinatos”, y como aun vivirán familiares y denunciantes… interrogar. !Qué ni han prescrito y sin alcanzarles la injusta Ley de “borrón y cuenta nueva”!
    Él disfrutaría, porque en este sumario, no debería dictar un auto pidiendo la partida de defunción de FRANCO (habían pasado cinco años de su muerte), y aunque hayan muerto varios, el director CAMACHO (una verdadera bestia), viven de los que borrachos en sus guardias nocturnas se divertían torturando. Inmensas palizas…con muertos. En Barcelona eso lo saben todos los JUECES Y FISCALES de entonces, pero no buscan Guantánamos para montar numeritos… con olvidarse de lo sobreseído y archivado, basta. Preguntar al Presidente actual de la Audiencia, José Luis Barrera Cogollos, digno sucesor del de entonces Alfonso Hernández Pardo, con quien compartió Tribunal ESPECIAL (montado solo para ese caso “jueces contaminados”) en el Juicio por el Consorcio de la Zona Franca, donde se me condeno a esos tres años pasados en prisión.
    Las imágenes que tanto se han difundido de las especiales prisiones americanas son “infantiles” comparadas con lo que he vivido y visto… en una prisión rodeada de una CIUDAD que ya había votado PROGRESISMO SOCIALISTA, y que poco le importaba si allí había inocentes (que por las habituales torturas y sistema judicial los había muchos) o terroristas con decenas de muertos. 2.600 hacinados, y ríanse del “Expreso del medianoche”.
    En http://www.lagrancorrupcion.blogspot.com reproduzco las páginas de “Barcelona, 30 años de corrupción” para refrescar la memoria con el propio relato del primer juez de Vigilancia Penitenciaria en Barcelona, el otrora gran amigo de Garzón, Gómez de Liaño, preguntándose que fue de aquellas denuncias.
    Podríamos también preguntarle por los restos de LASA Y ZABALA que sacó del armario cuando le convino para sus elucubraciones y ambiciones políticas.

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