You may have read how Spain’s Attorney-General tried to get judge Baltasar Garzón to drop his criminal proceedings against former Bush Administration officials (Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon’s general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers) for torture at Guantanamo Bay.
Well he’s circumventing the order, or at least trying to:
In a ruling on Friday, Garzon ignored this advice but also avoided a direct confrontation with the attorney general’s office by submitting the case to a lottery system which will now assign it at random to one of the six high court judges.
“Let it be assigned to the corresponding court,” Garzon said in the ruling.
The judge who gets the case will now have to decide whether to go ahead of it. Under the system, Garzon will have a one in six chance of getting the case back.
We can only hope that he succeeds. Having said that, their internal wrangling is causing the chain of responsibility for the Bush Administration’s policy of torture to continue to emerge, and is adding a whole new dimension to the argument. So Candido Conde-Pumpido would much rather someone go after the people who authorised the ‘Bush Six’ to give their rulings eh? Fine, but remember this:
The first memo [allowing torture], from 2002, approves waterboarding – which makes the suspect feel like they are drowning – and other harsh techniques on suspected high-level al-Qaeda figure Abu Zubaydah.
It was written by former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee for the CIA’s top lawyer, John Rizzo. The CIA has confirmed that two other high-level al-Qaeda suspects were waterboarded.
The memo says: “We find that the use of the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death” – one of the criteria for torture.
Obama wants the flunkies to stay immune, but didn’t comment on the ‘Bush Six’. Attorney-General Holder has tried to ignore them by saying the DOJ and ONC have ‘moved on’, but there are gaps they’ve both left open, should they need to go after the Six and their political masters in the future. As I said in my previous post I hope they are compelled to at some point in the future – if America is to be a nation of laws, Obama mustn’t be allowed to fall back on the Nürmberg defence for any reason. Should what I hope to be his gamble either not be real or not pay off, let Spain remain true to its own human rights legislation and at least go for those who rewrote the rulebook in order to legitimise torture by the American government.