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Rosenberg reports: "International human rights groups have turned to the European courts after losing successive efforts to bring cases in US courts, which typically invoked the states secret doctrine to get lawsuits dismissed not on the merits but as a national security necessity."

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay are watched by military police. (photo: Reuters)
Detainees at Guantanamo Bay are watched by military police. (photo: Reuters)

Spain Proceeding With Bush Torture Case

By Carol Rosenberg, The Miami Herald

16 January 12


The Obama administration may want to look forward but but other countries are still interested in determining whether Bush-era anti-terror practices violated international law.

Spanish judge on Friday re-launched an investigation into the alleged torture of detainees held at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, one day after a British authorities launched a probe into CIA renditions to Libya.

The twin developments demonstrated that while the Obama administration has stuck to its promise not to investigate whether Bush administration officials acted illegally by authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques, other countries are still interested in determining whether Bush-era anti-terror practices violated international law.

In Madrid, Judge Pablo Rafael Ruz Gutierrez handed down a 19-page decision Friday in which he said he would seek additional information - medical data, a translation of a Human Rights Watch report, elaboration on material made public by WikiLeaks, and testimony from three senior U.S. military officers who served at Guantánamo - in the case of four released Guantánamo captives who allege they were humiliated and subjected to torture while in U.S. custody.

Ruz said, however, that it would be premature to notify the former U.S. officials named in the former detainees' complaint that they are under investigation. Those officials include former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and two former Guantánamo commanders, retired Marine Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert and retired Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller.

Ruz said the complaint had yet to tie any of them to specific acts. He said he would ask Spanish prosecutors to determine who in the United States should be informed of the probe so that they could offer exculpatory evidence.

In London, the Crown Prosecution Service and Scotland Yard said Thursday that they would investigate allegations of British involvement in the Bush-era "extraordinary rendition" program, specifically whether British intelligence had a hand in delivering two Libyan opponents of Col. Moammar Gadhafi to Libyan jails, where they were tortured by Gadhafi's secret police.

Scotland Yard agreed to go forward on that probe while dropping another involving the interrogation in Morocco of former Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed. British human rights activists had sought to hold British intelligence responsible for Mohamed's treatment in Morocco - he called it torture, and the investigators said there was no reason to doubt his account. But they found "it is not possible to bring criminal charges against an identifiable individual."

International human rights groups have turned to the European courts after losing successive efforts to bring cases in U.S. courts, which typically invoked the states secret doctrine to get lawsuits dismissed not on the merits but as a national security necessity.

"In the globalized world in which we live, justice processes are going to go forward," said James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group founded by investor George Soros.

"These crimes are universal crimes and it's very clear that until the United States holds to account those responsible for these crimes, other judicial actors in other countries are going to press for accountability."

Goldston said international investigations were necessary because the United States has heeded President Barack Obama's call to look forward, not back.

"There's no accountability process," he said. "There're no court proceedings. There're no truth commissions. There's even less appetite today than there was three years ago."

Open Society has asked the European Court of Human Rights to press Poland to investigate the CIA's treatment of a current Guantánamo captive who was waterboarded and threatened with a cocked gun in a secret CIA prison.

That case's theory: Europe has an obligation to intervene because the Pentagon is seeking the execution of that captive, alleged USS Cole bomber Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who is currently facing charges before a military commission at Guantánamo.

Ruz ruled that under international law the United States has no right to declare itself immune from international prohibitions against torture "even in times of war or the fight against terrorism." He also rejected U.S. claims that Guantánamo detainees had no right to protection under the Geneva conventions.

The roots of the Spanish torture case, in a twist, were a request from the Bush administration that Spain prosecute Spanish detainee Lahcen Ikassrien on terror charges upon his release from Guantánamo. Spain did and initially found him guilty. But Spain's high court threw out that case, saying his statements while being interrogated at Guantánamo were unreliable because he had been tortured.

Three other former Guantánamo detainees joined Ikassrien in his complaint: Hamed Abderraman Ahmed, who also was released to Spain, and Jamil el Banna and Omar Deghayes, both of whom are now in Great Britain.

The Spanish judge said he decided to proceed with the case because the United States had never responded to a July 2009 question from the Spanish government about whether an investigation would be launched into the allegations.

There was no immediate comment Friday from the State Department.

Ruz said the first step in his investigation would be to obtain medical statements that the complainants had suffered injuries consistent with torture. He also asked the defendants to provide a Spanish-language translation of a July report by Human Rights Watch titled "Getting Away With Torture: The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees."

Ruz also ordered the Spanish newspaper El Pais to surrender documents it had obtained from WikiLeaks that the paper had cited in April as evidence of abuse. He said the documents - secret assessments of the four prisoners that WikiLeaks shared with several news organizations, including McClatchy - were necessary to determine if the officers who'd signed them - Army Maj. Gen. Jay W. Hood, retired Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Mitchell Leclaire, and Army Reserve Brig. Gen. James E. Payne III - should be called as witnesses.

Hood was in charge of the prison camps at Guantánamo and signed the assessment of Ikassrien in November 2004. He also signed Banna's assessment in May 2005. Leclaire, who retired as commander of the Michigan Army National Guard, was deputy commander at Guantánamo and signed Omar Deghayes' risk assessment in 2004. Payne, who also served as deputy commander of the camps, signed Hamed Abderraman Ahmed's assessment in 2003. your social media marketing partner


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+135 # vitobonespur 2012-01-16 15:41
Hey Spain...Get a rope and hang the bastards! Every damn one of 'em.
+139 # bsimpich 2012-01-16 16:03

The Spanish and the Brits are drawing a line in the sand challenging American power.

Will the people of the United States do the same?

We're about to find out.
+86 # John Locke 2012-01-16 19:35
bsimpich: The whole world is laughing at us right now...our judicial system also collapsed, this States Secret Defense was a sham, and should not have been recognized by the courts, it was used to conceal evidence of a crime. The US Court system impliedly agreed that as long as the government can keep crime hidden, it can get away with it, and the constitution be damned! What a joke it is when we have to look to europe to save our democracy, hopefully they will act and not be black mailed to run from this case as Italy did...
+126 # rsnfan 2012-01-16 16:21
Go Spain
+117 # David Starr 2012-01-16 16:22
Members of the Bush regime & their military devotees can run but they can't hide. There's an old saying, "Payback is Hell"; in this case, a principled punishment could fit the crimes of the Bush regime.
+130 # RayHarkleroad 2012-01-16 16:24
it is about time! I have demanded the trial of George Walker Bush on charges of Crimes Against Humanity since his attack on the sovereign country of Iraq. Maybe we'll finally get a guilty verdict (and the associated execution) soon. Bush has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis with his revenge war.
+117 # mrbadexample 2012-01-16 16:39
Good. Maybe the Spanish can return the US to the rule of law.
+101 # noitall 2012-01-16 16:43
Is it just me, or do y'all feel the dark oddness in stories today that are so much the U.S. dodging accusations about underhanded, law evading, sleezy, inhumane tactics. No more gallant,land of the free & brave. Have we become officially 'low life' in the world community? Bummer. We're being led by mansion trash.
+45 # upthecrik 2012-01-16 23:08 live in the land of corporate fascism.
+63 # shortonfaith 2012-01-16 16:44
I don't think Obama is interest in prosecuting anyone for anything, unless it's detaining a citizen without cause indefinitely. Then he gung-ho all in for that. Oh that's right he plays it like the evil guy in the movies. He says; "I told you I wouldn't do it. I didn't say my Generals couldn't."

It's nice to see some countries still take the law seriously. To bad the US isn't in that group?
+39 # Saberoff 2012-01-16 18:09
Consider this line from the article:

"...the Obama administration has stuck to its promise not to investigate..."

You see, once your POTUS you're no longer referred to, or considered, human: such as in "He" sticks to his promise. Now it's The administration sticks to ITS promise.

See. No problem. The man known as Barrack Obama can not be held responsible for anything.
+67 # wsh 2012-01-16 16:49
Interesting.... didn't Spain get Pinochet years after they convicted him in absentia?

It'll be even more interesting if any those guys from the last administration ever leave this country for a vacation....I just saw Fergie has imposed a self-enforced house arrest on herself, fearing extradition to Turkey by another country if she ever leaves England.

Hmmmm, I wonder if some State here would honor an extradition order from a foreign country....nah.
+37 # reiverpacific 2012-01-16 17:56
Quoting wsh:
Interesting....didn't Spain get Pinochet years after they convicted him in absentia?

It'll be even more interesting if any those guys from the last administration ever leave this country for a vacation....I just saw Fergie has imposed a self-enforced house arrest on herself, fearing extradition to Turkey by another country if she ever leaves England.

Hmmmm, I wonder if some State here would honor an extradition order from a foreign country....nah.

But they tried! And his buddies in the US (and some shadowy figures in Westminster) protected them -possibly concurrently protecting themselves.
Nice to know that the Bush crowd's travel options are shrinking. And how about old 'Enery Kis-my-ginger, who was a close confidant of Pinochet? He's right up there too.
+13 # Billy Bob 2012-01-16 21:53
Texas maybe? Texas thinks it IS another country already.
+2 # giraffee2012 2012-01-18 13:59
And their governors should be in another countryQuoting Billy Bob:
Texas maybe? Texas thinks it IS another country already.
+1 # feloneouscat 2012-01-18 17:50
Quoting Billy Bob:
Texas maybe? Texas thinks it IS another country already.

Sadly, (I live in Texas) if we are another country, it is a THIRD WORLD one.
+100 # maddave 2012-01-16 16:57
Not only did Bush, Cheney & Rumsfelt violate the Geneva Convention International law, they proudly flaunted their disregard of those laws in the world's face and bragged about it.

Concurrently with the cited investigation, there ought to be another, larger international investigating of the Bush Administration' s self declared & approved right to pre-emptively attack other countries that the USA considers to be a threat or which may be developing WMD's without our approval. (NOTE: this blade cuts both ways, because IF it were permissible under International law to attack a perceived threat, the USA - with its immense arsenal, its diminutive conscience and its uncanny ability ability to perceive & neutralize myriad "external threats" (mostly oil-rich external threats) around the world - the USA would be under constant internationally justified attacks from all sides.

War is not a game to be threatened, initiated or played by amateurs.

Finally - regrettably - If the (previously) highly respected & trusted Colin Powell is found to have knowingly - or even "uncertainly" - made the USA's WMD case (to the UN) for initiating the "shock and awe" attack that destroyed the Iraqi infrastructure; resulted in the deaths of a million people; and displaced millions more, then he, too, must b held accountable.

War is not something to be threatened, initiated or played as if it were a video game.
+37 # RMDC 2012-01-16 18:47
Good points, maddave. Colin Powell's chief advisor, Lawrence Wilkerson, has all but admitted that Powell knew he was lying and that he was doing the neo-cons bidding. Wilkerson wrote much of Powell's UN speech and now says he was part of the fabrication.
+31 # wfalco 2012-01-16 19:16
[quote name="maddave"] Not only did Bush, Cheney & Rumsfelt violate the Geneva Convention International law, they proudly flaunted their disregard of those laws in the world's face and bragged about it.

But that is sooo American. One is force fed jingoistic patriotism from first grade on up. Tragically I would be willing to bet that a majority of U.S. citizens(perhap s an overwhelming majority)would agree with our infamous trio's total disregard of international law.
+70 # humanmancalvin 2012-01-16 17:03
No European vacations for the Bush regime.
+17 # Muffy787 2012-01-16 19:43
Too bad, he prefers Crawford anyway he is such a hick.
+4 # feloneouscat 2012-01-18 17:52
Quoting Muffy787:
Too bad, he prefers Crawford anyway he is such a hick.

Oh, he sold that place in 2008. Bush now lives in Dallas.

Most people don't realize that Bush was a city boy. Heck, his ranch didn't even have cattle on it.

All hat and no cattle.
+74 # Erdajean 2012-01-16 17:04
Ah, how puny grows our "exceptional" protection from the outrage of decency and universal law. Thank God for WikiLeaks -- and for the righteous indignation of humanity the world around.

Sorry, Mr. Obsma. Some of your original voters knew we'd been dissed, the instant you told us to "forget" the cancerous rot of Bush-era crimes and "focus on the future" -- which has just been more of the same.

And NO, lousy and reprehensible as they are, the GOP did not MAKE you do this. The devil, I'd agree, but YOU chose this "pardon all evil" course yourself. So the evil is rising from the muck to smite us all.

Lawsuit, anyone?
+5 # X Dane 2012-01-17 20:46
Erdejean, and all, before you throw the red dots at me, I would like you to go back to early 2009....... Memory in this country is not what it could be ...Our economy was in free fall, millions of people were losing their jobs, ...and many...their existence too. We didn't know if we were going into a FULL BLOWN DEPRESSION.

Obama was trying to hold the pieces together and also save our car industry ...which he did.

THEN also remember that:

With all that going on, the republicans would have started a civil war, and someone would probably have assassinated Obama.

Your memeory may not be good. Mine IS, I remember well how SCARY IT WAS, How mad the republicans were over the measures Obama took to save the mess. They were furious over the saving of the car industry.

I would love to see BUSH AND CO. INDICTED AND JAILED, but it might have destroyed the country
+8 # X Dane 2012-01-17 20:49
I am GLAD that Spain is going after the bastards
+98 # Kiwikid 2012-01-16 17:14
Good on the Spanish - the mouse has roared! Its time the US was held to account. Just because you have the most guns doesn't entitle you to act like internatuional thugs while still trying to claim the high moral ground as protectors of freedom and all things good. The US needs to walk the talk and live by no less a standard than it demands of others.
+40 # lincolnimp 2012-01-16 17:41
Bien hecho, España, bien hecho.
+32 # RMDC 2012-01-16 18:49
This prosecution is really important for the future. If Obama knows he will someday face trial in a court in Spain, Germany, France, the US, or anywhere, he will not start a war against Iran. I don't believe he will spend the rest of his life in jail just to make Netanyahoo happy.

Go Spain!!!!
+27 # John Locke 2012-01-16 18:52
Reading this has lifted my spirits, that even though Obama attempted to quash a criminal investigation to protect the guilty traiters and the courts went along with this nonsense of a states secret defense, some one is going to give Bush and his cronies their just due, and hopefully they will spend the rest of their life in a Spanish jail, where they belong... but, I just don't know how brave or how far Spain will actually go when Obama tries to intimidate them to make them cease and desist...
+31 # Gengis 2012-01-16 18:58
There is also the other aspect of the regime of these criminals - their use of the Syrian connection as an avenue to effect torture. Were the CIA and the Canadian Mounties not also complicit? I hope they get those at the top and ultimately responsible, and not let just the foot soldiers take the fall as so often seems to happen when it is the good old boys at fault. Justice was done with the Nazis, now lets make today's real axis of evil dance to the same tune they sang after WW II.
+30 # lexx 2012-01-16 19:05
Oh oh, watch for the State Department to announce Spain is building a nuclear bomb and must be attacked immediately.
+16 # Rick Levy 2012-01-16 19:06
Ironic that prosecution against those committing torture is originating from the land of Torquemada.
+29 # PaineRad 2012-01-16 19:36
Nice of the Brits to go after the CIA, but why aren't they going after Tony Blair and his cabinet ministers?
+19 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-16 19:39
It's symbolic. Nothing is going to happen. Bush will not suffer, nor will Cheney. They are fat, dumb and happy, and will be for the rest of their lives (well, except for the personal, physical, mental and familial miseries that plague us all).

Hopefully the symbolism will serve some purpose though, so I encourage the actions taken.
+5 # John Locke 2012-01-17 09:49
Huck Mucus: I had to give you a thumbs up here, sadly you are correct...
+25 # T4D 2012-01-16 19:57
O. K., People, let's all chip in and send the Bush Baby to an all expense paid Flamenco holiday in sunny Spain.
0 # Educator 2012-01-16 20:09
This site offers us a place to vent. No problem with that. But at that some point we have to acknowledge the reality that the chance of the USA, Bush, et al. ever being held to account in any meaningful way in our lifetimes is not at all likely.

I think we probably all realize that in our hearts and minds.

The power structure is stacked against us. The Occupy movement has been trying to make that point. Maybe the first step is simply exposing and embarrassing those in power. How about making a big Nobel Peace Prize medal and 'occupying' the P.O. to give it a big sendoff back to Oslo? Have to have a thick skin, though. We sure to be called apologists.

Or maybe we should occupy the polling places and encourage folks not to vote. The winner's mandate will seem rather hollow if the big story on election night is the number of people who voted to withhold their vote in order to deny those in power the authority to represent the will of the people.

Who wants to go first?
+10 # Billy Bob 2012-01-16 20:38
Not bad ideas, although I disagreed with the non-voting one. The thing is that whatever plan is agreed on needs to be agreed on first before any action can take place. That's the problem with having a leaderless movement.

There rightfully scared of us and we're rightfully scared of them. We have the upper hand with cooperation. But each and every thing we do to embarrass them will take months to have any effect at all.
+1 # Doubter 2012-01-16 21:26
Every vote cast works towards legitimizing the System.
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-01-17 08:29
Every vote not cast works to ensure that the system continues without your input.
+1 # Doubter 2012-01-17 15:28
Heads you lose
Tails they win
+11 # Billy Bob 2012-01-16 20:12
Can I ask a serious question and get a serious answer from someone?


Why are we still discussing bush's torture? Was it worse than Obama's?
+14 # Ken Hall 2012-01-16 21:10
Good question, BB! The US was torturing people before and after Bushco II. His admin was only singled because of the pride they took in it.
+19 # Billy Bob 2012-01-16 21:37
Have we even slowed down torturing people? Seriously, I don't get it. I don't understand article commenting as though the torture is in the past tense.

I hate bush and everything he stood for. Don't get me wrong. But, I voted for Obama ESPECIALLY because he promised to stop torturing people. I don't think it's preferable to be tortured by someone who's not proud of it.
+22 # angelfish 2012-01-16 20:29
Isn't it ironic that we have to be taught lessons in Democracy from a foreign Country? We are supposed to be the Leader of the Free World, yet we continue to harbor Criminals and allow those that brought this Country to it's knees, to walk free. Amazing!
+24 # Skeeziks 2012-01-16 20:48
When in the name of God, do we stop killing and torturing in the name of God?

Have I missed something during my seventy-two years that prohibits me to understand that it's OK to torture and kill innocents if you are on the "Right" side?

Is it a "tongue in cheek" with a "wink and a nod" that permits men like George W. Bush or Dick Cheney to approve torture and killing, while at the same time telling Palistinian Representatives that "God told me to start the war on Iraq"?
+11 # Billy Bob 2012-01-16 21:41
So you're 72 years old? Good. Maybe you can answer a question for me. Isn't it true that the United States ALWAYS prided itself on its moral authority and the fact that it didn't engage (atleast not officially) in such practices?

I'm not exactly young, but sometimes I feel like I'm imagining a past country called the United States. Were the Japanese secretly the good guys during WWII? Were the Soviet Union, China and North Vietnam right all along in their treatment of prisoners?
+2 # X Dane 2012-01-17 21:21
Billy Bob. Because you always PRIDE yourself of doing the right thing, doesn't mean, THAT YOU ACTUALLY DO IT.
I love America, but I can certainly see it's many flaws. Unfortunately someone had to tell us that Americans are exceptional.... .and many bought it??
This country has a great many wonderful and talented people, and it can bounce back from truly bad times.

But from the very start of the nation, it has done awful things.

I remember reading about, when Washinton and his army was almost dying of hunger in the winter, an Indian tribe came to his rescue with food.... Some time later He ordered their villages destroyed. I apologize, that I don't remember all of it clearly, but it is a long time since I read it. Still i DO remember how shocked I was at such a despicable act.

As a matter of fact. The treatment of Indians has been disgusting. Still is. This was THEIR LAND. White people grabbed it and constantly lied to them.

Reading the history we see one bad act after another,so let's look at our selves with clear eyes, and try to correct bad acts and improve our country.
For I still love it
+21 # ozken 2012-01-16 21:12
It's a well overdue investigation and let's face it Cheney telegraphed his plans when he said that the U.S.A. would 'walk on the dark side'. What is so disgusting as somebody pointed out is that the U.S. government continually whines about the human rights records of other countries but are just as bad.

Remember Rumsfeld sneering comment about 'Old Europe' when France strongly opposed the invasion of Iraq? Well Rummy - 'Old Europe' is after you. Hasta la vista baby!
+25 # Archie1954 2012-01-16 21:23
It is very unforftunate but I for one will never understand how a country like America could have ended up with the most preverse and disgraceful government of degenerate sociopaths the world has ever seen. Truly Cheney, Bush and their disgusting hangers on are unnatural and inhuman. Are we even sure they are homo sapiens? certainly the last word of that descriptive phrase doesn't seem to fit when discussing this gang of thugs.
+5 # KittatinyHawk 2012-01-16 23:10
+10 # Sir Real 2012-01-17 01:00
Finally, somebody may yet get these dirty rotten mofo's to face a court of law for their war crimes. Bush already fears leaving the country, soon he will be afraid of leaving the house for fear he may face a little of his own medicine,rendit ion to face a judge Poppy didn't appoint.
+11 # Larkrise 2012-01-17 01:44
We have no just leaders, no men of integrity, honesty, compassion and the genuine courage it requires to make real change. All we have are bought and paid for politicians, covering each others well-dressed behinds, feathering their nests, and living in a protected bubble of Fat Cat and media flunkies and sycophants. If Obama agreed to prosecute Dubya and Deadeye for crimes against humanity, he would be agreeing to prosecute himself.He has never been interested in changing the underlying corruption of our government; or changing the greed-driven paradigm of our society.He is far too firmly entrenched in it. So are the courts. So is Congress. And so are the majority of sheeple. But, I honor Spain in its attempt to stand with decency, truth and justice. It is in stark contrast to the stinking corruption that rules Amerika.
+13 # cm wilson 2012-01-17 06:14
Wikileaks has helped the cause. We need to know what our government is doing in our names. Bradley Manning is nothing but a political prisoner; oops, I forgot, we, in the US, don't have political prisoners.
+1 # lark3650 2012-01-17 07:28
I believe in the law of reaction. Good actions lead to good reactions. Bad actions lead to bad reactions. As you give so your receive. You don't get away with doing the wrong thing...somehow , someway, those who knowingly do the wrong thing will be punished for their actions....acco rding to God's Natural Law.
-1 # Doubter 2012-01-17 18:50
Yeah, maybe a couple of reincarnations down the line...
Does that minus sign mean you expect our owners to "get theirs" in THIS life, you optimists?
"the law of reaction," you're talking about "Karma," aren't you?
+7 # tenayaca 2012-01-17 12:22
Fortunate that there is ANYONE willing to stand up to the American imperialism and hubris. YEA SPAIN!!! Let's hope they don't cave in to the inevitable political pressure from the US corporations that will result.
+6 # Don Thomann 2012-01-17 14:30
Viva Espana!
Andale, que bien hecho. Ya era tiempo!
+2 # medusa 2012-01-17 23:54
President Obama, and Attorney General Eric Holder as well, both know that torture is wrong and is not justified by the pressures of war. We must hope that their consciences will win--that they have been put in power to stand up now.
0 # thegreenhornet 2012-01-20 11:02
It will be fascinating to watch the administration tap dance around this issue. While we havent signed on to any treaty that would permit a foreign country to investigate, charge and try our own how in the world do we justify, then, our intrusion into the affairs of Libya and Iraq? We weren't invited there by their governments. Its the old game of do as I say not as I do. If we want to lead on the issue of international crimes against humanity, then we cannot differentiate between terrorism and torture and our responsibility to be held accountable much the same as we hold others accountable. Besides which, I personally would love to see Rumsfeld and Cheney stand trial.

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