UPDATE 4-16-2009: The Spanish Attorney General has rejected the attempt to open an investigation of the six Americans accused of, well it’s not clear what, but the Spanish Judge at issue wanted to bring them up on charges related to Gitmo. See background below. Further Update: The Spanish AG called the complaint fraudulent and refused to let his country be used as a toy.
Oh, and Brendan, don’t spend the money yet, you still may need it for Obama.
A Spanish judge has taken the first steps towards opening an investigation into the alleged culpability of six Bush administration officials, including legal counsel, for “torture” of al-Qaeda members. Needless to say, the American left is ecstatic. Obama won’t let them persecute Bush administration officials (sets really bad precedent for a President currently in office), so the prosecution has been outsourced to whatever European country steps to the plate to claim “universal jurisdiction.” According to a New York Times report:
The move was not entirely unexpected, as several human rights groups have been asking judges in different countries to indict Bush administration officials. One group, the Center for Constitutional Rights, had asked a German prosecutor for such an indictment, but the prosecutor declined.
Judge Garzón, however, has built an international reputation by bringing high-profile cases against human rights violators as well as international terrorist networks like al-Qaeda. The arrest warrant for General Pinochet led to his detention in Britain, although he never faced a trial. The judge has also been outspoken about the treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay.
Brendan, a commenter on this blog and blogger in his own right, offered to buy Professor John Yoo, one of the targets, a plane ticket. Brendan referred a cheering post on the subject by Andrew Sullivan apparently took the night off from spreading Sarah Palin baby hoax hoaxes.
The American left shouldn’t count its Yoos before they are convicted. As I have posted before, Yoo and others will be vindicated, regardless of which court hears the case. Regardless of whether you agree with the conclusion, Yoo articulates a cogent and legally reasonable analysis of how this country should have dealt — for the first time — with non-enemy combatants who wear no uniform and obey no country.
For the left, in American and elsewhere, European universal jurisdiction has become the weapon of choice to resolve political disputes. Israeli officials are the primary target of such Spanish Inquisitions, but Americans have been targeted in the past. European universal jurisdiction has become a tool to attack democracies, while the leaders of countries where real torture is practiced go free.
Brendan, don’t cheer too loudly for the Spanish Inquisition. When you lower the bar for the claim of European universal jurisdiction, you are putting your own heroes at risk. Obama has ordered the bombing of Taliban and al-Qaeda hideouts in Pakistan, knowing that innocent civilians would be killed in the process; and there surely will be similar Obama administration actions which, when judged from an anti-American perspective and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, may be deemed “illegal” in some European country.
So don’t send the airfare money for Yoo, you may need it for Obama.
UPDATE: Doug Feith effectively takes apart the Spanish case both factually and legally in an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal.