Barack Obama has given the go ahead for the “targeted killing” of al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki, who happens to be a U.S. citizen.
I don’t have a problem with it. The fight with al-Qaeda is war. Al-Awlaki is trying to kill Americans, and if the only way to stop him is by killing him, so be it.
The question is, whether the Spanish judges who have sought the arrest and prosecution of Israeli military and political officers under a theory of “universal jurisdiction” also will come after Obama.
After all, the Spanish judges tried, unsuccessfully, to go after Bush administration officials at the urging of American leftist groups.
Will American leftists clamor for a prosecution of Obama in Spain if there is no prosecution in the U.S.? And will the Spanish judges be as bold in going after Obama administration officials?
If they do, then I’ll be on Obama’s side. But I’ll never have to get there, because Obama isn’t Israeli and he isn’t Bush.
Update: A compendium of articles and news reports on “universal jurisdiction” in numerous countries is here. A reader points out that Spain narrowed its law last year (in November) after abuse, although it is not clear whether the changes really would be effective at curbing politicized prosecutions. The issue would be whether there were a sufficient connection to Spain and the perpetrator were found on Spanish soil, as expained in this article (at p. 9). If I were a former Bush administration official involved in the interrogation cases, I would not travel to Spain regardless of the narrowing of the law.
In an ultimate irony, the most aggressive of Spanish judges, Baltasar Garzón, now is on trial in Spain for abusing power during “universal jurisdiction” investigations.
The problem exists elsewhere. A British judge issued a warrant for the arrest of former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and Israel officials are cautious as to which countries they travel.