Wikileaks: Obama Administration Secretly Worked To Prevent Prosecution of War Crimes By The Bush Administration

One of the little reported details from the latest batch of Wikileaks material are cables showing that the Obama Administration worked hard behind the scenes not only to prevent any investigation of torture in the United States but shutdown efforts abroad to enforce the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture. This includes threatening the Spanish that, if they did not derail a judicial investigation, it would have serious consequences in bilateral relations. I discussed these cables on Countdown.

For two years, President Obama has worked to block the investigation of torture under the Bush Administration — even as both Dick Cheney and George Bush publicly admit to ordering waterboarding of suspects.

David Corn in Mother Jones has an interesting posting today on the issue.

A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department discloses how the Administration discarded any respect for the independence of the judiciary in Spain and pressured the government to derail the prosecution of Bush officials. Human rights groups around the world had called for such enforcement in light of Obama promise that no torturers would be prosecuted and Holder’s blocking of any investigation into war crimes.

The Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners had filed a demand for prosecution with Spain’s National Court to indict former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon’s former general counsel; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. It had a compelled factual basis that these men ordered or facilitated war crimes — a record that has only become stronger since this confrontation.

American officials pressured government officials, including prosecutors and judges, not to enforce international law and that this was “a very serious matter for the USG.” It was Obama’s own effort at creating a “Coalition of the Unwilling” — nations unwilling to enforce treaties on torture and war crimes when the alleged culprits are American officials.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) joined the embassy’s charge d’affaires in the secret campaign to block the prosection of Judge Baltasar Garzón.

Corn notes that, during an April 14, 2009 White House briefing, he asked press secretary Robert Gibbs if the Obama administration would cooperate with any request from Spain on the investigation and prosecution. Gibbs insisted that this was nothing but “hypotheticals” and did not disclose that in fact the Obama Administration was working diligently to block the Spanish case.

Just as many conservatives abandoned their principles in following George Bush blindly, many liberals have chosen to ignore Obama’s concerted efforts to protect individuals accused of war crimes. Under our treaty obligations, the United States has the primary responsibility to prosecute torture by U.S. citizens. That responsibility rests with the Executive Branch – the prosecuting authority of the United States. What is particularly disgraceful is that Obama would refuse to fulfill this responsibility under our treaties and international law and then demand the same hypocrisy from our allies.

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212 thoughts on “Wikileaks: Obama Administration Secretly Worked To Prevent Prosecution of War Crimes By The Bush Administration”

  1. “How many of you who posted here are likely to vote in any case? Not too many is my guess. So, you are just wasting your time here.”

    Yeah, people who frequent a blog about law and politics and society are certainly less likely to vote than some presumptuous half-wit prone to irrational and hasty generalizations about a forum which – by its very nature – the people participating in it are more likely to be voters than not.

    That’s what you get for guessing instead of thinking before you speak.

  2. How many of you who posted here are likely to vote in any case? Not too many is my guess. So, you are just wasting your time here.

  3. OS,

    I do not know if you have ever read the Ultra Secret by F. W. Winterbotham….If you haven’t and have some spare time….its as good as you can get about counter-intelligence being built up in bloody ole England by good old hand to hand espionage and double crossing..the olde fashion way ….before the age of the internet….

    (Fake “UK-English Accent” super imposed….)

  4. AY, quid pro quo is not new. If you recall, none of the charges against German or Japanese war criminals involved bombing civilian targets. Not one charge about the bombing of London. None.

    Seems the Allies would have had a problem with General Curtis LeMay and Air Marshal Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris had they done so.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

  5. OS,

    That is why I said what I said…I think that being said….is enough reason for a real anarchy here in the states and abroad….The Stop Internet Piracy Act that is currently being debated in congress scare the dickens out of me…Although it deals with supposed protections of software….it could very easily be used by the government….just as the tool to restrict the internet…Just call me skeptical of our governments ability to misinterpret the existing laws and ignoring the Constitution….

    Just like a story I heard about how a Federal Judge was giving a Prosecutor for the SEC a difficult time for bringing inconsistent claims against a Brokerage Firm being criminally charged…..This is the first time in a long time I have heard of a Federal prosecutor not being able to do it….Now I understand that one or the other has to be selected before it hits Jury Deliberations….Oh well….put a drug dealer in the same court and I bet the call would be different….

    BTW thanks….

  6. I’m as liberal as one can get and I’m pissed off. And I know for a fact that if a Republican were in office, they would be throwing Americans in jail for even daring to prosecute the well-documented and well-known Bush admin war crimes.

    So, don’t anyone tell us that Obama is trash and a Rethuglican would do any different except to throw away the key after they disappeared any American who dared to question their authority.

  7. The very real danger to Julian Assange does not come from investigators in Sweden as much as the very real possibility of him being ‘rendered’ to the US, which is just as likely as not to ship him off to some country that has no compunction about torture. They have done it before, just ask Maher Arar.

  8. AY,

    Thanks for your insights, as always… And with regard to Cheney… the war criminal… Don’t get me started. 😉

  9. AN,

    I did hear that on a segment of NPR….I seem to recall yesterday….That although he has the right to appeal….it is unlikely that he will be successful in the appeal….I see it as buying time….who knows how far this witch hunt started by Cheney will end…


    “A British court Monday gave WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange permission to continue his legal battle to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crimes allegations.

    The decision means Assange does not face immediate deportation to Sweden. The court said he can apply to Britain’s Supreme Court in a bid to remain in the United Kingdom. (See a TIME video with Assange on history’s top leaks.)”

  11. Nye,

    I do in fact think you are correct…that Rockefeller was VP but was Fords Veep…Not Nixon’s….So what you say makes logical sense if you are misconstruing facts….Must be a Bush Rep…..or Cheney Democrat….Facts never matter in the story….

  12. One correction to the above. Ford did not pardon Nixon, it was Nelson Rockefeller (the guy Nixon APPOINTED President). That in itself was illegal, according to the laws and constitution of the USA if the President is unable to fulfill his/her duties the Vice President is next, if he/she isn’t able the speaker of the House is next in line…but the Speaker was a Democrat, and the Cons didn’t want a Liberal as President so the law was ignored and Nixon made Rockefeller President (the only President to hold office that was not an elected official, then Rockefeller pardoned Nixon and ran as Fords’ VP. Looking in the list of names of Presidents I see Rockefeller isn’t even listed as President, but it does have a footnote “Nominated by R M Nixon whom he later succeeded as President)…that part of history seems to have been deleted from the public eye, and those in power probably hope everyone has forgotten about that little detail.)

  13. We might as well say farewell to pictures like those of Paris crowds cheering U.S. soldiers after we pushed the Germans out. America had a good reputation around the world for compassionate treatment of political and military prisoners.

    This brings up a question: Why didn’t the Bush Administration come to the realization they could use kindness and freedom and justice as propaganda tools on individuals captured during the bloody wars?

    That said, I think the Republican Party, contrary to being the answer to moral decline, is actually a symptom of it.

  14. Thank you for every other great post. Where else may anyone get that type of info in such an ideal approach of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the search for such information.

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