Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday notes

1. Another Canadian soldier was killed on Monday and four injured, news coming late last night. The deceased soldier, a young woman from Quebec, 21 years old. Her picture accompanies the Star report, just incredible. Condolences to her family.

Coming on the heels of the news of the assassination of the Kandahar provincial councillor, Sitara Achakzai, the women's rights advocate, it's leading to more analysis and questioning of our mission there. One piece presenting rationale for continuing is here. One from a progressive supporter who is now turning and questioning it, here.

2. There was interesting news out of Spain last night, apparently a Spanish judge will be seeking criminal charges against six Bush administration officials in respect of the torture of Spanish citizens held at Guantanamo Bay: "The Bush Six to Be Indicted." This follows up earlier reports suggesting the opening of a criminal investigation. Looks like it's moving ahead more quickly than anticipated, based on persuasive evidence.
The six defendants—in addition to Gonzales, Federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, University of California law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith—are accused of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention in “the war on terror.”
So, those are the individuals. What I found interesting about the Horton report last night was the "dance" that seems to be going on between U.S. and Spanish officials over this investigation going forward. You might almost think that the U.S. could be, in effect, farming out this nasty little task to the Spanish, but we shall see:
Shortly after the case was filed on March 17, chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza was invited to the U.S. embassy in Madrid to brief members of the embassy staff about the matter. A person in attendance at the meeting described the process as “correct and formal.” The Spanish prosecutors briefed the American diplomats on the status of the case, how it arose, the nature of the allegations raised against the former U.S. government officials. The Americans “were basically there just to collect information,” the source stated.The Spanish prosecutors advised the Americans that they would suspend their investigation if at any point the United States were to undertake an investigation of its own into these matters. They pressed to know whether any such investigation was pending. These inquiries met with no answer from the U.S. side.

Spanish officials are highly conscious of the political context of the case and have measured the Obama administration’s low-key reaction attentively.
Both Washington and Madrid appear determined not to allow the pending criminal investigation to get in the way of improved relations, which both desire, particularly in regard to coordinated economic policy to confront the current financial crisis and a reshaped NATO mandate for action in Afghanistan. With the case now proceeding, that will be more of a challenge. The reaction on American editorial pages is divided—some questioning sharply why the Obama administration is not conducting an investigation, which is implicitly the question raised by the Spanish prosecutors. Publications loyal to the Bush team argue that the Spanish investigation is an “intrusion” into American affairs, even when those affairs involve the torture of five Spaniards on Cuba. (emphasis added)
Apparently the indictments are to be announced today.

3. Powerful little letter to the editor on the Abdelrazik exclusion today.

4. Loved the refresher on the res gestae exception to hearsay, contrary to the commenter's "Boring!" rejoinder...really, I didn't mind it at all. A little bit of edamacashun on the Liblogs and all. But what that post really needed was a connection to current political events, where there might have been some spontaneous utterances in legal goings on in the past few years that might, you know, liven it up a little. Just sayin'...:)

5. On a happier note, love that picture on the front of the Globe of Obama running with the new dog. Trivial, yes, but fun, absolutely. With that historic bust in the background, love it.