Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
Editor’s Pick
MARCH 29, 2009 12:37AM

Keep an Eye Out

Rate: 20 Flag

Harper's has a piece saying the Spanish national security court has opened an investigation into six former Bush administration officials -- lawyers -- who authorized the use of torture against prisoners at Guantánamo Bay:

David AddingtonSpain’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 [.pdf in Spanish]. 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 [pictured - right], 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.

Douglas Feith

I'm including their pictures because this now means that any of these six men can be arrested, should they choose to vacation in any of the countries (Scott Horton in the above-linked story counts 24) that have ratified the EU extradition treaty.  So if you happen to be on Holiday in Britain, or Italy, or, yes, Spain in the next few months, and you see a familiar face -- like Doug Feith, to the left, well, please let the nearest officer know. 

Alberto GonzalesThe worldwide quest to bring our criminals to justice is just beginning.  I find it funny and encouraging that the search is beginning with the men, like Alberto Gonzales to the right, who authorized broken interpretations of the law.  They thought they were writing themselves some protections; they thought they were above the law, or at least enabled to make it that way.

William Haynes III

Instead, they've made themselves targets, prisoners, and criminals. 

Of course, their cage is much bigger than those in which they said it was OK to hold others.  The punishment for these men, like William Hayden III at left, so far, is no holiday on the Riviera.

Jay BybeeIn fact, what's perhaps most troubling is to look at where these men are now.  Though two of them are unemployed and having trouble finding work (Gonzales blames the economy), one of them -- Jay Bybee, pictured at right in black and white -- is a federal judge in the Ninth Circuit appeals court, which means he's still in a position to exercise considerable control over the interpretation of the laws in the United States.

John YooI say keep an eye out.  And keep an eye on them.  John Yoo (left) is teaching law at Chapman University this year, potentially influencing those who will someday rise in this same system to make similar decisions. 

The quest for justice is starting -- but it should've started here, long ago.  It should've never been left to other countries to point out that we're breaking our own laws and that the people we trusted to guard them were criminals. 


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Finally. Of course the poetry would be if they found themselves in The Hague due to extraordinary rendition.
It is so fuckin' disgraceful that this country is not doing this.
Shame on ALL our elected officials.
Ha, Stim, you're right -- poetry indeed.

Dakini, let's hope a little international pressure -- with this leaked just before the G20 -- will go a long way.
The disgrace of the Bush regime may never be completely alleviated, at least not in our lifetimes. But the fact that there is no action against their crimes within our own nation belies the idea that this is "a nation of laws" and only compounds the disgrace.

The real mystery is this: what exactly is it that our own government is hiding by not performing its duties in this matter?
Rick Lucke asks:"The real mystery is this: what exactly is it that our own government is hiding by not performing its duties in this matter?"

As is usual in such cases, the succeeding administration, altho' publicly decrying these abuses of power, is secretly concerned that they may have to resort to the same or similar tactics, and is thus loathe to criminalize them.
This post saddens me, not so much because of its grounding in undergraduate liberal extremism (my dear, you are SO a product of the kind of education my generation grew out of many years ago) but rather because it represents a repudiation of some of the principles I expect you yourself hold most dear.

If these lawyers are subject to prosecution, I would imagine that some points of law are involved. Could the presumption of innocence possibly be among them?

Why bother with the adjudication phase? Why not proceed directly to punishment. After all, you, with your advanced legal training and first hand knowledge of the facts, already call them criminals, not accused criminals. Isn't that a violation of Liberalism 101?

Why tell tourists to rat the lawyers out to local officials? Why not encourage them to effect citizens' arrests? Better still, why don't you get on your white charger and track them down yourself vigilante-style and perform the function of judge, jury, and executioner in person at the hitching post?

"I have in my hand a list of names AND PICTURES . . . " You're joining the ranks of McCarthy and Cuomo, probably without even realizing it. Sad.

You say that the Bush administration lawyers "pioneered" the descent into torture at Gitmo. I can't tell whether the quoted word is yours or that of the article your reporting on (uncharacteristically careless on your part). Although you can probably parse your way out of it, there's a suggestion that torture was invented by agents of the United States. Now that's a notion for the history books.

Probably saddest of all is the assumption that countries other than the United States (some of which owe their very existence to same) are somehow morally superior to your own country. Although it's really none of my business, I can't help wondering whether this penchant is just the result of the education referred to above or whether there's some more personal explanation for this bias. Whatever and whyever it is, it's most unattractive.

I look forward to your reports on Obama's waging of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is following the dreaded McCain's template. I suppose the disillusionment will be palpable.
Makes me wish OS supported photo captions. Nice job of associating the photos with the names by how you wrote the story though.
Even more "American public servants" who will be unable to take vacations in Europe. The world judges.
I want justice, doggone it. I am ashamed that my own country did the crimes and is now weaselling away from bringing these creeps to justice.

Meanwhile, let a kid who put his or her life on the line (unlike those pampered cowards) do one thing wrong, and their life is ruined forever.
I'm of the opinion that this could not have happened without a diplomatic "We'll turn a blind eye" from the current administration. It simply could not have happened.

Which means Obama's quietly supportive of meting out justice to those criminals; he's just being very careful not to slit his own throat by doing it directly.
Rick, I am a little more hopeful than I seem -- Justice releasing more memos this last week that seem to prove CIA involvement at high levels in authorizing torture is encouraging. but I agree with you and Wayne, the continued reluctance to prosecute is a black mark on our country and the new administration. I'll give them a little more time before I get too angry -- I think they're moving in the right direction, and this should be a slow, deliberative process because a) that's more fair and b) that reduces the ability of other to call it a political witch hunt.

Which brings me to GordonO. McCarthyism? Really? The difference seems to me to be vast, and to speak directly to your "point": McCarthy called people out in Congress, where there's no legal authority to punish at hand (so he had to use shame tactics, black listing, etc.) because the people he was persecuting would have never been found guilty in a court of law. I'm cheering on a legal process that will bring these men to justice, systemically, fairly, with the protections guaranteed within. Yes, my opinion is they're guilty. The notice to tourists is somewhat tongue-in-cheek: do you think they'll be travelling anywhere anytime soon? But suppose we do take it completely literally: How does my encouragement to others to work within established systems of justice equate to unfair persecution?

And what's this about finding other countries to be superior to the U.S.? Are you intuiting my lack of patriotism from thin air, or just because my position disagrees with yours? My generation grew out of that in diapers -- I'm sorry to see the rush to call people un- or anti-American lives on with you (I won't drag everyone else of your age cohort into this, though).

RIF, captions -- yes. I want them.

Zuma, there certainly is a double-standard of justice, you're right. Bigger crimes somehow often get smaller punishments.

Verbal, I hope in a way that you're right -- but I think this Spanish court in particular has acted in ways that the U.S. has not supported in the past, so there may be less coordination than one would (quietly) hope.
It is disturbing to me that these individuals (and others) so willfully, blatantly trampled the Constitution. Its as if they heard the Nixon/Frost interview and actually believed the "When the President does it, that mean's that its legal!" declaration. Even more disturbing today is Cheney shamelessly lifting his head in the public arena (even if only on Faux News) and declaring Obama is making the nation less safe.
I am praying that we dont suffer another Gerald Ford moment.
It is very peculiar how GordonO, and those of his ilk are personally offended by a charge that someone with whom he is philosophically similar is charged in a court of public opinion. G.O. is narrowly and technically correct about presumption of innocence, but it is a semantic game to make such a criticism of someone referring to another as a "criminal." It could be expressed with more legalistic correctness by slapping "alleged" on the sentence, but the legal jeopardy is no greater by stating it as the blogger did. Everyone knows that. And no one has the expectation that any legal authority will imprison any of these lawyers on the basis of an opinion piece alone.

And as for the concept of presumption of innocence, if GordonO, or anyone else has referred to anyone as an "illegal alien", then you have violated the same principle that you claim with regard to the criminality of the Bush Justice dept. If one were to scour G.O.'s writings, I am sure the term could be found. But reading GordonO is generally a waste of time. So say I. So says the low readership numbers.
While I think it is absolutely vital to our nation that the men behind the torture be arrested, convicted and sentenced to long prison terms, I'm ambivalent at best about the Spanish court's involvement.

I fear that this will make it harder to pass international agreements that limit torture and protect human rights. The right has already blocked American participation in global war crimes tribunal for the fear that they would be used against the US for political ends. While there is no sense that is what the Spanish court is doing (they brought charges against Pinochet, too), they are in some essence, making a clear statement that judges outside of America can declare American officials criminals for doing the business of governance, regardless of whether or not their acts in office were criminal in America.

I also fear this may hinder the much more important prosecution, the U.S. prosecution. We, as a nation, must hold trials that pursue all people involved, bottom to top, who participated in torture. We need American courts and prosecutors to make it clear to every future President, Cabinet Officer, staffer, and soldier that they will be brought to justice for these kinds of crimes and there is no protection in the office. Outsourcing justice cannot achieve that end. It cannot help us remove this terrible stain on our country. Only the American government can do that.
P.eS., Saturn you might want to note that your link to the criminal complaint is a 98-page PDF—in Castilian Spanish (i.e., not translated). Anybody viewing from a slowish connection or a phone will hate that link.
Oh boy, I added a note about the .pdf. Thanks for that note, Specular -- and your longer note, which makes very good points. But I'm hopeful the reverse might be true -- that the Spanish court's moves may make us more likely to pursue our own prosecutions, for the same motives (namely that we don't recognize other states' rights to do this). Though I agree with you, it's a very tricky, thin line.
I suspect the Spanish Court's actions make it more likely Obama will push for a prosecution (while complicating his ability to do so), but I also suspect that it will make getting DoJ and court appointees confirmed even more difficult than it is now. Because I believe the majority of the Republicans—even those who are committed to stopping torture—are ideologically driven to resist with everything they have foreign courts having any power over American citizens. The not-so-extreme, not-so-fringe part of the Republican parties fears international treaties (except free trade ones, natch) something fierce. (Which, incidentally, would not make it poetic justice for them to be brought before The Hague courts: they oppose them. Extraordinary rendition, on the other hand...)
Aw, if it wasn't overheated condescending drivel, Gordon wouldn't have written it.

Just because some countries owe their existence to the U.S. does not mean we get a free pass forever to do what we want. If other democracies believe our elected officials might have committed crimes and want to investigate and even indict, that is their right. If they are doing so on behalf of their own citizens that the United States might have held and tortured, then the governments are serving the people who elected them. Good for them.

And what is this sneering bullshit about "you are SO a product of the kind of education my generation grew out of many years ago." Don't lump your entire generation in here, not all of them are mindless cheerleaders for American hegemony. Every adult relative of mine over the age of fifty is appalled by what they saw out of the Bush administration. Even my uncle, a lifelong Republican lawyer in D.C., was infuriated by Alberto Gonzales and the way he ran the Justice Department.

And insinuating that Saturn is somehow anti-American because she disagreed with the policies of our now-former government? Talk about McCarthyism.

Personally, I think your sneering dismissal of a person's education and condescending reference to her as "my dear" is an example of an immature intellect. If you want to sit at the adults' table try using your big-boy voice.
I noticed that, "they owe their existence..." nonsense too. I can't think of how that is a valid justification for anything. I can, however, see how a nut would attempt to justify child abuse, or infanticide, or some other atrocity with it. I dont understand how "owing existence" is a moral justification for anything at all.
I'm against child abuse and infanticide and BB being as old as he is, doesn't necessitate an exception.

SO Polite, you're SO a product of your second-class liberal education which has apparently led you. . . dare we say it, absolutely nowhere.
I just threw up a little in my mouth at these six photos Saturn.
Rated for criminality.