'Torture' Could Haunt Bush Officials
Spanish judge who went after Pinochet considers charges for Gonzales, others.
March 29, 2009— -- In what may turn out to be a landmark case, a Spanish court has started a criminal investigation into allegations that six former officials in the Bush administration violated international law by creating the legal justification for torture in Guantanamo Bay.
The officials named in the 98-page complaint include former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who once famously described the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" and "obsolete."
Others include John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer who wrote the so-called "torture memo" that justified waterboarding and other extreme interrogation methods for terror suspects.
Also named are: former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith; former General Counsel for the Department of Defense William Haynes II; Jay S. Bybee, formerly of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and David S. Addington, former chief of staff and legal advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
At the time of writing, ABC was unable to reach any of the officials for comment. Feith was reported to have said he was "baffled by the allegations."
In an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal on March 7, Yoo said the Obama administration risked harming national security if it punished lawyers like himself.
Why a Spanish court? Because the famous Spanish judge in the case, Balthazar Garzon, says four Spanish citizens formerly held in Guantanamo claim they were tortured there, and that Spain therefore has jurisdiction in the case.
The complaint says that the American officials violated international law, specifically the 1984 Geneva Convention Against Torture, signed by 145 countries including the United States and Spain.
It says the officials created the legal justification for torture. Not that they were in the torture room, but that they twisted the law , to justify the unjustifiable.
Garzon has an international reputation as a crusader against human rights violations, and has been outspoken about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.