Rights Groups Claim Bush Canceled Trip to Switzerland Due to Threat of Torture Prosecution

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger
Story from Reuters

Rights groups are claiming that former President George W. Bush has canceled a planned trip to Switzerland because he feared legal action might be taken against him for alleged torture crimes that occurred during his administration.

Bush had been scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Keren Hayesgood (United Israel Appeal) annual dinner in Geneva on February 12th. Evidently, the Swiss government had been receiving pressure to arrest Bush and open a criminal investigation if he entered the country.

According to Reuters, the human rights groups planned to submit a 2,500-page case against the former president in Geneva on Monday for alleged mistreatment of detainees who have been held at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Source: Reuters
Read more on this story at the Reuters site: Bush’s Swiss visit off after complaints on torture


28 thoughts on “Rights Groups Claim Bush Canceled Trip to Switzerland Due to Threat of Torture Prosecution”

  1. From Mother Jones (12/1/2010)
    Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe
    A WikiLeaks cable shows that when Spain considered a criminal case against ex-Bush officials, the Obama White House and Republicans got really bipartisan.
    — By David Corn

    In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.

  2. Jim,
    I don’t know what kind of immunity from prosecution any official has for alleged war crimes. I don’t doubt that the official government stance would have been to not prosecute, but without knowing the Swiss judicial system, I can’t say for sure.

  3. I wonder how much discretion prosecutors have in Switzerland and whether private citizens and groups can launch criminal prosecutions there. From reading this and other articles, it sounds like the Swiss government wanted nothing to do with any prosecution. Indeed, the Swiss justice ministry claimed (wrongly, IMHO) that Bush would have some form of immunity.

  4. No need to send him to Europe. All he has to do is go to Vermont. His own countrymen have turned on him, and the world cannot possibly begin to heal until he and his accomplices face trial.

    Blouse, how can O’ccomplice otherwise become a “transformational president”? How can an alleged Constitutional lawyer be so blind to what is so obvious to even the casual critical thinker?

    It won’t be the current criminal enterprise perpetuating the last one, both posing as Presidential Administrations.

    In fact, if my conservative friends want to get back into real, lasting power in five seconds or less, start demanding grand juries be seated. A real law and order agenda would cut through the crap, and once the discovery door opens, it will be curtains. Even Texas will have to give him up.

  5. Buddha,
    You are spot on about the inability of the Secret Service to prevent a Swiss arrest. They are duty bound to protect his live, not his legal liabilities.

  6. “Why wouldn’t the US government just grant Bush some sort of diplomatic status and the immunity that comes with it?”

    Because they want diplomatic status to retain some shred of credibility.

    “Based on the Swiss bending their banking privacy laws at the request of the US, do we really think they would stand up to a former President? I see that more likely elsewhere in Europe.”

    Perhaps. But the Swiss are surrounded by the rest of Europe. In the end, do you think the people they sleep next to have more influence or the people across the Atlantic?

    “Would the US Secret Service use force to stop the detention of Bush? Why not?”

    As he’s not a sitting President, I can think of two words that answer “why not”: international incident. If they used force to protect him, it would be like throwing a gallon of gas on what is already a fire.

  7. Why wouldn’t the US government just grant Bush some sort of diplomatic status and the immunity that comes with it?

    Based on the Swiss bending their banking privacy laws at the request of the US, do we really think they would stand up to a former President? I see that more likely elsewhere in Europe.

    Would the US Secret Service use force to stop the detention of Bush? Why not?

  8. Well put Frank.
    Elaine, I agree with CCR that Bush is hiding his backside from the law. Maybe they should put up a wanted poster for him and say “wanted here or over there”.(I had to censor myself!)

  9. From Think Progress

    The Jewish charity group, United Israel Appeal, said it was canceling Bush’s invitation on security grounds, not due to legal action. “The calls to demonstrate were sliding into dangerous terrain,” Robert Equey, a lawyer for the organization, said. Protesters urged attendees of the rally to bring a shoe, recalling the moment when an Iraqi journalist threw one at Bush.

    The human rights groups had a different interpretation. “Whatever Bush or his hosts say, we have no doubt he canceled his trip to avoid our case,” the Center for Constitutional Rights and others said in a statement. “He’s avoiding the handcuffs,” Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

  10. This is no lose for Boy Blunder as he was not interested in travel before he took office (he Identified Italy as “the one shaped like a boot, right?).

    But Mr. Obama might want to take notice since he seems to have a broader mind & interests. He could also face prosecution, if not for torture done under his administration at least for his support of it.

    Its really a great time to be a citizen of the ‘ol USofA. Sing along no everybody!

  11. The spin has started:

    A lawyer for [United Israel Appeal] said Bush’s appearance was canceled because of the risk of violence, and that the threat of legal action was not an issue.

  12. donn and AY, well said. Elaine, great article. I only wish that the Swiss could keep a secret and George W. had made the trip!
    Unfortunately, I don’t think President Obama will even take notice of this story. One can Hope though, can’t he??!

  13. All I can do is chuckle. Obama may not have the guts to handle Bush/Cheney but others certainly do.

    Can you imagine … what recent sitting President has been afraid to go outside the country after his time in office is finished? What a come-down … it’s as if he’s some despot afraid of what the world will do to him if he steps outside his compound … the world has placed him in quarantine.

    Obama should take note as to just how far the once powerful can fall.

  14. donn:

    Amazing isn’t it?

    “I think it is a shame on America that the former president cannot go outside the USA for fear of being arrested.”

    Haven’t watched any talking heads this morning but I would imagine this is one subject they won’t be discussing.Maybe I’ll be proved wrong.

  15. @ Donna

    18 USC § 3771

    In May of 2005, USDOJ published a 75 on line report called ATTORNEY GENERAL GUIDELINES FORVICTIM AND WITNESS ASSISTANCE That official report recognizes some government programs and rights for all crime victims and more rights and programs when a criminal prosecution is under way.

    The Justice for All Act of 2004 provides crime victims, as defined in article II.D.1, with two mechanisms for enforcing the rights. One of those is 1. Judicial Enforcement. Crime victims, or the Government on their behalf, may move in Federal district court for an order enforcing their rights. (18 U.S.C. § 3771(d)(3)) “The district court shall take up and decide any motion asserting a victim’s right forthwith”

    This mechanism is available to crime victims even if there is no prosecution underway as is the case in this situation at this time to the best of our knowledge. For purposes of providing the most basic low level benefits described in the AG Guidelines, a victim is “a person that has suffered direct physical, emotional, or pecuniary harm as a result of the commission of a crime.” (42 U.S.C. 10607(e)(2))

    “Pre prosecution victims’ rights are by statute defined as including
    “At the earliest opportunity after the detection of a crime at which it may be done without interfering with an investigation, a responsible official shall—
    (1) identify the victim or victims of a crime;
    (2) inform the victims of their right to receive, on request, the services described in subsection (c) of this section; and
    (3) inform each victim of the name, title, and business address and telephone number of the responsible official to whom the victim should address a request for each of the services described in subsection (c) of this section.
    During the investigative stage, a victim should receive the services to which he or she would normally be entitled,

    See also “Because the CVRA does not distinguish between proceedings that occur before a plea or guilty verdict and proceedings that follow a plea or verdict, it seems that in all proceedings courts must treat alleged victims as if they were admitted or proven victims. The Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004 and the Federal Courts • Federal Judicial Center, Oct. 24, 2005

    The President reaffirmed USDOJ commitment to prosecute white-collar crime:
    “And one last thing I think is important is when we think about people being victimized by crimes, obviously our biggest concern is violent crime. That’s our biggest focus. But we also want to make sure that some of the crimes that have been taking place of late, financial crimes — in the area of mortgage fraud, for example — I just talked to the attorney generals there — a lot of people have lost a lot of money because they were duped or tricked by white-collar criminals. And we’re also putting additional resources into that. And I think that you’re going to — we’ve already seen a tripling of mortgage fraud cases over the last several years. We want to make sure that we’re cracking down on those folks who are abusing and victimizing or taking advantage of people in the financial sector as well. Obviously, it doesn’t have the same profound impact as violent crime. But in a society like ours, we want to make sure that everybody is playing by the rules and when you break the law, when you break the rules, that there is serious punishment.”

  16. Call me when it happens in Dallas, TX. Maybe O’ccomplice will get a clue and arrest him.

  17. I think it is a shame on America that the former president cannot go outside the USA for fear of being arrested. What does that say about the rest of us? I wish there was a way that the people of America could force the Department of Justice to do its job. Bush and Cheney have admitted to authorizing waterboarding and that is torture. They are criminals and should be tried for their actions. America will get no respect until that is done.

  18. It couldn’t happen to a nicer uy….well….maybe one more….Cheney…..

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