Saturday, March 28, 2009

The reign in Spain 

Spanish anti-terror Judge Baltazar Garzon has agreed to consider opening a criminal case against six Bush administration officials in connection with legal advice provided by the officials with respect to the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo.

The commenters at Huffpo are pleased. Very pleased.

Why would any U.S. citizen want a foreign country to indict former U.S. Government officials for providing legal advice in the performance of their duties? Even if you hated the previous administration, and disliked the nature of the advice made by the officials (including former AG Alberto Gonzales) and the actions that flowed from the decisions once those decisions were made by the relevant executives, surely it is permissible to actually provide the advice without fearing legal consequences from an ally. Setting aside for the moment the jurisdictional question (certainly no Spaniard was water boarded, even if there is a claim that there were some Spanish citizens at Gitmo), why would people in this country want some has-been 450-years-ago Empire going all Nuremberg on Bush administration lawyers? If you are over at Huffpo, why do want Garzon doing the work -- wouldn't it be better from their standpoint to at least sic the ABA on the six lawyers so that they might be disbarred (you know, like President Clinton was for a time, after he left office)? If the ABA is not willing to discipline them, that might lead to a reasonable inference about the alleged criminality of their advice.

If an indictment is handed down, it certainly sets a disappointing precedent, not that it will ultimately be consequential in any meaningful way. Somehow, I believe that similarly situated Obama administration lawyers are not rejoicing right now (even if they did not care for any of the six lawyers involved in the referral), because they are smart enough to know that if it can possibly happen to Bush lawyers, it can possibly happen to them.


By Blogger Georg Felis, at Sun Mar 29, 12:42:00 AM:

1. Does this mean US courts can now be used to sue former Spanish officials on violations of US law?

2. In the event that these show trials bear fruit for the nutty left, will the Obama administration have the intestinal fortitude to use diplomatic methods to squelch them? i.e. a full removal of any US aid to Spain, removal of any US government contracts to any Spanish companies, expulsion of their ambassador, imposing tariffs, etc...  

By Blogger Brian, at Sun Mar 29, 01:57:00 AM:

I hope Obama's lawyers keep this in mind as they decide what they want to inflict, if anything, on prisoners at Bagram.

John Yoo, David Addington, and possibly Jay Bybee are far more guilty of waterboarding than the grunts who carried out orders.  

By Anonymous acucucuuc, at Sun Mar 29, 08:28:00 AM:

"I hope Obama's lawyers keep this in mind as they decide what they want to inflict, if anything, on prisoners at Bagram."

So the lawyers advising the current President of the United States on national security matters should temper their advice based on the possibility that they may be indicted in, oh, let's say 2013, by, oh, let's say Norway?

Do you really think that is a good idea? Are you Norwegian?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Mar 29, 04:06:00 PM:

What do you mean, "if an indictment is handed done?" Of course they'll be indicted. These magistrates are rabid anti-Americans who would still put anyone who supported Franco up against a wall. These inquisitors destroyed brave General Pinochet and they'd do the same to everyone they believe effectively opposed communism!  

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