It was announced recently that a lawyer in Madrid, Spain prepared a case to seek criminal investigation into violations of international law by six former high-level Bush administration officials.
No, not Dick Cheney (more on that later), but former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (the guy who “can’t recall remembering” much of anything), former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo (the guy who wrote the legal memos stating that the president had the authority to essentially ignore the Geneva Conventions), another former Justice Department lawyer Jay Bybee (Yoo’s former boss), former Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff and legal adviser David Addington, former Department of Defense counsel William Haynes, and former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith.
The charges against these folks are based on the Geneva Conventions and the 1984 Convention Against Torture. The 145 signing countries have the authority—and, some would argue, the obligation—to investigate torture cases. Of course the stakes are somewhat higher when a country’s own citizens have been abused, as five Spanish citizens held at Guantanamo Bay were.
Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, and the others are said to have violated international laws by providing the legal framework (read: ass-covering) for torture, including waterboarding.
The National Court in Madrid sent the case for review by none other than Baltasar Garzon—the judge who ordered the arrest of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (who was nabbed in Britain, but never stood trial).
Spain is the first country to take seemingly serious action on this, but certainly not the first to be talking about it. Canadian lawyers got in on the act, and there were hopes that they would pounce on Bush himself when he made an appearance here in March. But it turned out to be just talk. Or at least much more complicated than simply slapping the cuffs on him and dragging him away.
Though prosecutions in cases like this are extremely rare, if Spain were successful in this, it could clear a direct path to Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George W. Bush.
Enter Bill O’Reilly.
An endless source of amusement, O’Reilly has threatened Spain, saying the following in his Fox “News” television show:
“Here’s the deal, Spain—if this goes forward, you’ll be insulting America. Unless this action is condemned by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero, then I am not going to that country.”
Shortly after this aired, Spain released a statement in response:
“Oooooh, we’re scared.”
The following countries have since hurriedly announced that they too would be seeking criminal prosecutions against former Bush administration officials:
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom