Spain, Brits go where DOJ won’t

Barack Obama’s Department of Justice has made a mockery of international law, but some countries haven’t stopped investigating Bush-era “anti-terror” policies:

Spanish judge on Friday re-launched an investigation into the alleged torture of detainees held at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, one day after a British authorities launched a probe into CIA renditions to Libya.

The twin developments demonstrated that while the Obama administration has stuck to its promise not to investigate whether Bush administration officials acted illegally by authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques, other countries are still interested in determining whether Bush-era anti-terror practices violated international law.

In Madrid, Judge Pablo Rafael Ruz Gutierrez handed down a 19-page decision Friday in which he said he would seek additional information – medical data, a translation of a Human Rights Watch report, elaboration on material made public by WikiLeaks, and testimony from three senior U.S. military officers who served at Guantánamo – in the case of four released Guantánamo captives who allege they were humiliated and subjected to torture while in U.S. custody.

Ruz said, however, that it would be premature to notify the former U.S. officials named in the former detainees’ complaint that they are under investigation. Those officials include former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and two former Guantánamo commanders, retired Marine Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert and retired Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller.

Ruz said the complaint had yet to tie any of them to specific acts. He said he would ask Spanish prosecutors to determine who in the United States should be informed of the probe so that they could offer exculpatory evidence.

In London, the Crown Prosecution Service and Scotland Yard said Thursday that they would investigate allegations of British involvement in the Bush-era “extraordinary rendition” program, specifically whether British intelligence had a hand in delivering two Libyan opponents of Col. Moammar Gadhafi to Libyan jails, where they were tortured by Gadhafi’s secret police…

3 thoughts on “Spain, Brits go where DOJ won’t

  1. The Int’l Criminal Court generally won’t touch cases when there’s a possibility that the “home country” will handle them.

    As soon as the statute of limitations runs on Bush-era torture and war-crimes, then the US *can’t* prosecute, and that means that the ICC can. Crimes against humanity (such as torture) have universal jurisdiction.

    Good for the Spanish and Brits, and I hope they refer their findings to the ICC. As an added bonus, after Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their merry gang of war-criminals are convicted by the ICC, US presidents cannot pardon them.

  2. spain has a different legal system than the u.s., in which judges, by themselves, may institute criminal investigations. judge ruz can investigate a possible crime without the assistance of the spanish equivalent to the justice department.

    which is why the comparison with the u.s. doesn’t really work. if the u.s. had the spanish system, and there where over a thousand judges scattered around the country each with the authority to investigate a possible violation of federal law, i’m sure we would have at least one that started looking into guantanamo and other black sites. that doesn’t mean the cases would go anywhere, just as its not clear whether the cases in spain will go anywhere, even if judge ruz concludes there were human rights violations justifying a criminal prosecution.

    the good thing is even an investigation like this will probably limit former bush officials’ travel plans because EU members respect each other’s warrants for arrest. that’s what happened with pinochet (who was arrested in britain on a warrant from a spanish judge). so former bush officials would be foolish to go anywhere in europe right now. that phenomenon has already happened.

  3. Desecrating bodies in a war zone is a war crime. Pissing on dead bodies is desecrating a body. Ergo, anyone pissing on a dead body has committed a war crime. Yet, the Republicans, and many American’s, welcome this desecration of the dead. Any Republican, or American, who doesn’t demand that these military men be prosecuted for war crimes is not a patriotic American. Nor are they fit to hold any elected office in the United States of America.

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