Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bush Six debate begins

David Corn takes on former Reagan staffer Frank Gaffney on the issue of the possible indictment by a Spanish court of six former Bush administration officials. Intense argument here, with Gaffney citing American sovereignty as a primary rationale for rejecting the Spanish court's reach, claiming that these U.S. officials were working "inside a system of laws under the rule of law," doing their jobs. Gaffney discounts the criticism that the laws were interpreted for the Bush administration in a manner to their liking, by these officials under investigation, to permit laws preventing torture to be ignored. In other words, under this view, it seems to be that the Geneva Conventions could be legitimately lawyered away, whittled down by hard working lawyers, without interference from any other country on behalf of its citizens who have been affected by such American actions. Pretty remarkable claim.

Meanwhile, there are many applauding the Spanish, from within the U.S.:
The views of Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights – which has played a major role in mobilizing lawyers to defend Guantanamo detainees, probably represent the consensus among U.S. human rights advocates. He said, “The importance of this investigation can not be understated. Contrary to statements by some, the Spanish investigations are not ‘symbolic.’ Just ask Augusto Pinochet, who was stranded under house arrest in England and who ultimately faced criminal charges in Chile because of the pressure of the Spanish courts.”

He added, “If and when arrest warrants are issued, 24 countries in Europe are obligated to enforce them. The world is getting smaller for the torture conspirators.”

Brian J. Foley, Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Boston University, told us, “I hope Spain goes ahead with a full and fair investigation. These are serious allegations, and there needs to be a forum to air them. U.S. officials seem unwilling to look into the alleged war crimes, which is unfortunate and further diminishes any remaining U.S. moral authority. I hope the Spanish investigation is open and transparent, revealing the truth for the whole world to see -- including, perhaps especially, American citizens. We need to face what has been done in our name.”
The reporting last night was a little bit ahead of the game, Spanish officials now saying a decision on proceeding with an investigation is to come this week.