Saturday, March 28, 2009
The Spanish Audencia Nacional, the Spanish national security court, has taken the first steps toward investigating Bush administration officials for authorizing torture at Guantanamo Bay in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture.
The complaint, forwarded by the prosecutor's office to Baltasar Garzon, triggers an investigation of six former officials, including Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, William Haynes, Doug Feith, Jay Bybee, and David Addington, for providing the legal framework for violation of the conventions. According to Harper's, Garzon is "Europe's best known counterterrorism magistrate." He is perhaps best known as the investigative judge who ordered the arrest of Augusto Pinochet.
While some details of these officials' legal advice remain secret, the general argumentis well known: The techniques did not constitute torture, but in any event the President had inherent executive authority and (alternatively) authority under the AUMF to order treatment of detainees at Guantanamo without regard to limits in U.S. law and international treaties. (The OLC appears to have backed off some of this--but without specifically retracting it--in later memos. But we still don't have keyOLC memos to tell the full story.)
But these arguments (or any others) are extremely unlikely to get full articulation in the Spanish courts: Even if arrest warrants are issued for these officials, the U.S. would mostcertainly ignore extradition requests.