Spanish Judges Rule That U.S. Torture Case Can Proceed

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We have previously discussed the Obama administration’s attempt to derail a Spanish judicial investigation into torture, here. Spanish law recognizes the principle of universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction (UJ) is a doctrine of international law that holds that certain crimes are so terrible that the duty to prosecute them transcends all borders.

On November 4, 2009, the Spanish government enacted a bill that would limit the reach of its universal jurisdiction law. The bill would limit jurisdiction to only those cases where  (i) the alleged perpetrators are present in Spain, (ii) the victims are of Spanish nationality, or (iii) there is some relevant link to Spanish interests.

Recent events in Spain haven’t been working out for the Obama administration.

Late last month the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) has done what surely will bring hope to those who believe that no one is above the law. It has rejected a Spanish prosecutor’s effort to stop the investigation and agreed to continue investigating allegations that Lahcen Ikassrien, a Moroccan-born Spanish resident, was tortured at Guantánamo  where he was held from 2002 to 2005.

This will be the first real investigation of the U.S. torture program. The investigation will be overseen by Judge Pablo Ruz. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commanding officer at Guantánamo, has been implicated in a dossier submitted to the court. It is believed that there is sufficient evidence for the court to issue a subpoena for Miller to testify before Judge Ruz. Miller would certainly refuse to testify, then Judge Ruz could issue an arrest warrant and start extradition proceedings.

The Obama administration’s refusal to investigate Bush administration officials has stained the U.S. justice system. The fact that the Spanish National Court is doing what should have been done by an American court is a national disgrace.

H/T: Center for Constitutional Rights, Andy Worthington, The Center for Justice & Accountability.

29 thoughts on “Spanish Judges Rule That U.S. Torture Case Can Proceed”

  1. Addendum and Correction: When I say I don’t think the public is stupid, that is not accurate. 🙂

    What I meant is that the public doesn’t believe, and neither do I, that the Obama administration would let anything of substance come from the Spanish Inquisition (which I presume is what they will start calling it). That, plus much of the public IS stupid enough to assume anything a foreign government does that is critical of the USA must by definition be terrorist inspired.

    So between the stupid people on one hand that don’t believe a word of it, and the reasonably intelligent people on the other hand that think nothing will come of it, that doesn’t make for great ratings. I’d bet money it gets reported with a condescending grin and a pat on the head, as if the Spanish are fifth-graders in a mock court that don’t comprehend how the world works.

  2. @Brett: Agreed.

    @DigitalDave: I think a simpler answer presents itself that does not demand the news media feel any such esoteric emotions as “guilt.” I see little evidence of that capability on my TV, at least. What I do see is an ability to feel “greed,” and that is all it takes.

    In a weird reversal of roles, the news has become the former entertainment industry, and the entertainment industry has become the news.

    The self-identified “journalists” don’t criticize politicians, because they need politicians to come on their political talk shows, or to feed them anonymous quotes and “leaked” information (aka propaganda).

    Oh, they will criticize politicians that are obviously going down in scandal, of course — They don’t need those guys anymore.

    They don’t criticize corporations that advertise on their networks, because that could cost them money.

    And the top dogs of media, earning half a million or more a year, are not going to say anything that might endanger that salary, and of course what they say might endanger that salary because the CEO’s of the corporations that employ them are political animals that can replace them in a heartbeat with a more compliant pretty face. Keith Olbermann just lost a $6M/year gig at MSNBC, apparently for being too politically incorrect by the lights of General Electric and Microsoft (the owners).

    In the meantime, there are shows that require ZERO political access and don’t care if they alienate politicians: Comedy Shows. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert can tell the truth, as long as they’re funny and get ratings doing it.

    So the fake-news shows is where we get our real news. That, and a few other actual journalists, relegated to non-mainstream outlets, that do not require political access to get their job done. Glenn Greenwald (Salon) and Matt Taibbi (Rolling Stone) are the exemplars.

    Greed explains their actions just fine. I don’t think the public would be engrossed by the Spanish trial because I don’t think the public is stupid: If necessary, Obama will happily throw under the bus some unknown Major General, or let him spend his retirement avoiding Spain. The mainstream media won’t be able to book anybody from the administration to talk about it, and since they are virtually incapable of doing their own research, and 60 minutes isn’t going to run a show without a politician on it, they will just talk about whatever the politicians want to talk about. The deficit, or latest outrageous bill, or whatever.

    Barring lethal disasters or publicly violent crimes or sexual indiscretions, the White House and Congress pretty much determine the political news, simply by selecting what they will and will not discuss, and their timing of bills, speeches, proposals and hearings. They don’t require the compliance of the mainstream media, the opposite is true: The mainstream media has been dependent upon chummy access to politicians for so long that it is doubtful their business model could survive without it. They have become symbiotes.

  3. Digital Dave,
    I agree with your review of the Big Lie from the Bush administration. I hope your prediction is wrong, but I fear you may be right.

  4. Throughout the Bush presidency I noted a bizarre trend toward being as brazen as possible, even is cases where subtlety would clearly be more effective.

    I became convinced that openly flouting of the law was their true goal — to drive a wedge between reality and what we claim to be doing, or trying to do.

    Since the vast bulk of the world has no desire to countenance this evil, the mainstream media (in the US) was forced to begin shielding the public from “common knowledge” in the rest of the world. In the realm of journalism, this is tantamount to having “blood on your hands.”

    Today, the norm for the mainstream media is to accept outright evil in our government without batting an eye. Indeed, they don’t even consider it to be “newsworthy”. However, deep down they know the public doesn’t share their guilt for this disgrace. If given the chance, the public would become deeply engrossed in this Spanish trial.

    Therefore the media will conspire for some new scandal to emerge “suddenly” and suck-up all the air time so that nothing else can get through. Unfortunately the Charlie Sheen controversy is losing steam, so expect some other pointless drivel to appear. Mark my words.

  5. Sounds like good news. But really … justice delayed and justice denied? I agree with the comment written by Henry.

    The point of a rule of law as opposed to a rule of men, is that humans should have some rational basis for confidence that social contracts made between them will apply. Without such confidence each might feel the necessity of taking justice as they subjectively see it into their own hands – with all the potential dangers residing in that course as being better than acquiescence to rule by arbitrary men over friends, family and merit.

    The longer the delay between overt illegal actions and accountability the less basis there can be for such a rational confidence. Laws are not self enforcing they require agents of goodwill.

    I don’t see what sound arguments could be made against the proposition that we do not currently have a rule of law however much we might aspire to it.

    Iraqi 10 year olds in March 2003 are now 20 year olds. A generation of the world’s children that saw the illegal Iraq invasion on television sets the world over have grown to adulthood. They know the rule of law to be a farce.

    Nations that claim adherence to a secular rule of law have demonstrated their bad faith to secular humanity through their failure to prosecute Bush and Blair.

  6. The magnificent, terrible beauty of Nuremberg is that it left one with no illusions whatsoever as to exactly what the Nazis were, and what they represented. There were not two sides to that argument.

    Just as there haven’t been two sides to our national debate since the appointment of W by the SCOTUS. The only corrective remedy is to sit civilian grand juries.

    Discovery is going to make for some long nights at the White House so long as they resist.

    BREAKING: Sate Dept. Spokesman PJ Crowly resigns over his comments over Bradley Manning because he dared called it “ridiculous.”

    MANY long nights.

    Viva!, Spain!

  7. rafflaw,

    All this stuff Obama and his CIA handlers are trying to cover up is going to come out anyway. Spain has been working on this case for the last two years and continue to make progress at a steady pace. The CIA has never had much influence in that country.

  8. This is already being heralded as a trial of the decades!

    Congratulations of praise to the Spanish National Court.

    Shame on the U.S. Courts and Government.

  9. Well said Blouise. I am looking forward to the international buzz when Miller gets subpoened and the extradition is requested. That should make tbings interesting. Especially in light of the Wikileaks disclosures.

  10. “The Obama administration’s refusal to investigate Bush administration officials has stained the U.S. justice system. The fact that the Spanish National Court is doing what should have been done by an American court is a national disgrace.” (Nal)

    Obviously the CIA didn’t find it as easy to influence the Spanish government as it was to influence Bush/Cheney, Obama and our Congressional members. National Disgrace is an understatement.

  11. Let us not forget major War Criminal Joe Biden. Biden conspired with the Bush Administration to initiate the war against Iraq. “Biden, who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the lead-up to the Iraq War during the latter half of 2002, was perhaps the single most important congressional backer of the Bush administration’s decision to invade that oil-rich country.” “It is difficult to over-estimate the critical role Biden played in making the tragedy of the Iraq war possible.”

    During the trial of the Nazis at Nuremberg, the chief American prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson, stated: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

    The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are Illegal Wars – Wars of Aggression. A ‘Crime Against Peace’ is defined in the Nuremberg Charter as the “Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances.”

  12. The Obama administration’s refusal to investigate Bush administration officials has done much more than stain the U.S. justice system. It has de facto legalized imprisoning people without due process and torturing them. In that respect, Obama has done more harm than Bush, because, although Bush was a worse criminal than Obama, if Obama had prosecuted Bush, then the nation would have retained its essential character as a nation of laws and not men. Now, however, no future President will fail to take advantage of his power to imprison people without due process and torture them, that power will expand to cover ordinary crimes and political dissent, and the country will take it for granted. We are witnessing the decline and fall of the United States as a republic.

    Of course, Congress is ultimately to blame, because it has the power to impeach and to create a special prosecutor, but no one expects anything along those lines from it.

  13. Good for them…If they wanna know where he is located I will assist in the delivery….

  14. Hopefully this U.S. torture case will uncover more of the Bush, Blair, Obama regime and their Wars of Aggression / Torture (War Crimes).

    The U.S. Government is a criminal organization. The U.S. Government has violated the same law used to prosecute and convict the Nazis at the Nuremberg Trials. Barack Obama is a War Criminal. He has been a War Criminal for several years in funding, conspiring and waging Wars of Aggression. He should Not have been placed on the ballots. He should Not have been certified by the Congress. Obama should Not have been sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. These acts were unconstitutional, felonious and treasonous. Obama could be arrested at any time by the U.S. Government, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. for War Crimes and a multitude of other charges. Our political, civil and military leaders along with the mainstream media have perpetuated and built a “Big Lie” for years. It is on the scale that Hitler and the Nazis used to deceive the German people. Obama is one manifestation of that Lie.

    “The U.S. had no reason to invade Iraq in 2003, and only did so because of “a series of lies” told to the American people by the Bush administration, says Gen. Hugh Shelton, who served for four years as the US’s top military officer.”

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