Bush-hating liberals have salivated for weeks over the possibility of Spain “prosecuting” Bush admin officials for allegedly sanctioning “torture” at Gitmo, but today Spain’s AG is recommending against it:
MADRID – Spain’s attorney general has rejected opening an investigation into whether six Bush administration officials sanctioned torture against terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, saying Thursday a U.S. courtroom would be the proper forum.
Candido Conde-Pumpido’s remarks severely dampen the chance of a case moving forward against the Americans, including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Conde-Pumpido said such a trial would have turned Spain’s National Court “into a plaything” to be used for political ends.
“If there is a reason to file a complaint against these people, it should be done before local courts with jurisdiction, in other words in the United States,” he said in a breakfast meeting with journalists.
Spanish law gives its courts jurisdiction beyond national borders in cases of torture, war crimes and other heinous offenses, based on a doctrine known as universal justice, but the government has made clear it wants to rein in the process.
Last month, a group of human rights lawyers asked Judge Baltasar Garzon, famous for indicting ex-Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet in 1998, to consider filing charges against the six Americans. Under Spanish law, the judge then asked prosecutors for a recommendation on whether to open a full-blown probe.
National Court prosecutors have not formally announced their decision, but Conde-Pumpido is the country’s top law-enforcement official and has the ultimate say. While an investigative judge like Garzon is not bound by the prosecutors’ recommendation, it would be highly unusual for a case to proceed without their support.
A senior court official told The Associated Press that a formal announcement would come Friday. He said prosecutors would stop short of an outright call for dismissal of the case, but would raise a series of legal objections that would make it impossible for it to proceed in its current form.
Awww. If you’re not broke from buying all those teabags to toss out yesterday, how about purchasing boxes of Kleenex or Puffs and donating them to MoveOn.org, Democrats.com, the Daily Kos, and DU? Hey, who said we weren’t compassionate people, anyway?
Ed Morrissey responds:
Spain likes to consider itself omnipotent in criminal matters. They have the notion that they can apply “universal justice” by trying people for crimes committed outside of their own sovereignty. That’s a tremendously arrogant notion, one that challenges American sovereignty in this case. We declared our independence from European oversight 233 years ago, and we don’t answer to Spanish courts. The proper channel for issues concerning public officials between two sovereign nations is diplomatic, not prosecutorial.
Conde-Pumpido didn’t decline the case on those grounds, however. He just saw that the issue was political, not criminal, and that Spain wanted to grandstand for some popularity. He pointed out that the proper forum for complaint in this case was the US courts, not a Spanish judicial panel. Conde-Pumpido wants the original judge recused from the complaint as well, in order to make sure that this moves no farther through the system.
Douglas Feith, one of the potential “defendants”, called this a “national insult,” and he’s right. Only those who don’t believe in American sovereignty and independence would cheer this attempt to make Spain the arbiter of American action. The judge could still order the prosecution, although with this recommendation it’s unlikely. If Spain moves forward, the Obama administration must defend American sovereignty by imposing stiff diplomatic consequences for this national insult.
With that said, Spanish blogger Barcepundit – aka Jose Guardia – gives the salivating masses on the other side of the aisle a glimmer of hope:
Well, when the investigative judge is Baltasar Garzón — as is now the case — you can expect just about anything, no matter how unlikely. It wouldn’t be the first time the crusading judge doesn’t follow the prosecutor’s decision; precisely there’s a well-publicized case of alleged corruption in the conservative Popular Party that he’s pressing on despite the state’s attorney saying once and again that there is no substantive evidence (it’ll help you understand why if you’re aware that Garzón was once No 2 candidate for the Socialist party in a general election during Felipe González times)
Stay tuned …