Spain Rules out Torture Probe of U.S. Officials
Posted: Thursday, June 11th, 2009 at 2:50 pm
MADRID, Spain—Prosecutors from Spain do not want an investigation against six Bush administration officials to be opened, reports the country’s attorney-general. The men would have been tried for sanctioning torture against terror suspects imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.
Candido Conde-Pumpido said that the case, which targets high-ranking officials including former U.S. Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, was invalid because the men were not present at the time of the alleged torture.
“If one is dealing with a crime of mistreatment of prisoners of war, the complaint should go against those who physically carried it out,” Conde-Pumpido said in a breakfast meeting with journalists. He said a trial of the men would have turned Spain’s National Court “into a plaything” to be used for political ends.
Spain’s National Court has not come to a definite decision as to whether the trial will actually stop, but Conde-Pumpido is the country’s top law enforcement official and will have the final say.
The Bush administration has only been out of office for three months, yet several groups have attempted to indict former high-ranking Bush officials, notably in international courts. Human rights groups have also tried to bring suit against Bush officials in a German court.
It alleged that the men involved, now known as “The Bush Six,” cleared the path for torture by claiming in advice and legal opinions that the president could ignore the Geneva Conventions, and by creating a new definition of what constitutes torture.
The law in Spain gives its courts rulings jurisdiction outside of the country itself. It follows the doctrine known as universal justice in the cases of torture or war crimes.
Most of the men named in this indictment have not spoken out in their own defense or commented on the case. Ex-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, however, has condemned the actions of the court, calling it “a national insult with harmful implications.”
Former President George W. Bush has denied that torture occurred against anyone, but has acknowledged that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self described plotter of September 11th, and a few other prisoners were waterboarded at secret CIA prisons before being taken to Guantanamo. Waterboarding, a method of interrogation that is meant to simulate drowning, has been criticized by opponents as a form of torture. The Bush administration insisted all interrogations were lawful.