On the Reach of International Law

If President Obama’s administration is unwilling to commission a Truth Commission to investigate the crimes and moral failures of the Bush administration and bring the actors who authorized torture to justice, that’s okay.

The Spanish are more than willing to make up for our lapse. And the Brits, too.

Spain’s national newspapers, El País and Público reported that the Spanish national security court has opened a criminal probe focusing on Bush Administration lawyers who pioneered the descent into torture at the prison in Guantánamo. The criminal complaint can be examined here. Público identifies the targets as University of California law professor John Yoo, former Department of Defense general counsel William J. Haynes II (now a lawyer working for Chevron), former vice presidential chief-of-staff David Addington, former attorney general and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, now a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith.

[SNIP]

The Spanish criminal court now may seek the arrest of any of the targets if they travel to Spain or any of the 24 nations that participate in the European extraditions convention (it would have to follow a more formal extradition process in other countries beyond the 24). The Bush lawyers will therefore run a serious risk of being apprehended if they travel outside of the United States.

And the Spanish prosecutor behind this? Judge Baltasar Garzón, the man who brought down Augusto Pinochet.

I hope one of Bush’s inner cabal is arrogant enough to think that European justice isn’t something to be feared, that the possibility of American outrage will protect him, only to find himself incarcerated and doing hard time in a Spanish prison.

Good for the Spaniards, I say.

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