Spanish investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzon has passed a 98-page complaint to prosecutors that accuses former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and five others violations of international law, including torture.
For months, many of us have been complaining about President Barack Obama’s blocking of any war crimes investigation despite the confirmation of a torture program under President Bush. While saying repeatedly that “no one is above the law,” Obama has acted in precisely the opposite way: guaranteeing that former President Bush and others are above the law. This seems to confirm reports (denied by Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder) that they promised various people before the start of the Administration that they would never allow a criminal investigation.
One of the issues raised by Obama’s refusal to appoint a special prosecutor to look into these well-documented allegations is that it leaves the United States open to international intervention. While there is an obligation for the United States to act under our treaties, a failure to act allows other countries to intervene to uphold international law. This puts the United States on the same moral plane as Serbia and other countries that shielded allegedly war criminals. This is precisely the problem that we have discussed in prior interviews.
The story here should not be the actions of the Spanish, but the lack of action by Obama. The United States will now be in a position of trying to block this inquiry while blocking any criminal investigation at home. That is how Obama is implicating himself in these violations and making himself an accomplice and accessory after the fact.
While Obama’s political advisers have told him that it is simply too politically risky to allow the enforcement of these laws, the moral response is obvious. This is simply not Obama’s decision. He should leave it to a special prosecutor to decide on the evidence if anyone can be charged. He can use the Spanish proceeding to say that the United States will conduct its own criminal investigation — not another meaningless commission but an investigation by a special prosecutor.
The Spanish complaint names Gonzales John C. Yoo, Douglas J. Feith, William J. Hayes II, Jay S. Bybee and David S. Addington. Bybee was put on the Ninth Circuit despite objections from civil libertarians of his role in the torture program. Once again, the democrats refused to use their power to block the nomination. He now has life tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
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