Spanish Judge on Bush Regime: Systematic Program of Torture – Indictments Possible

By Kenneth J. Theisen
On April 29th Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon officially opened an investigation into the torture program at Guantanamo. This is an important step in holding the Bush regime accountable for some of its criminal actions. The court in its ruling stated it will investigate the “perpetrators, the
instigators, the necessary collaborators and accomplices" to crimes of torture at the prison located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This case could result in charges being brought against the highest officials in the Bush regime, including the Bush himself.
In his ruling the judge stated that torture and other memos released by the U.S. government "have revealed what was previously a suspicion: the existence of an authorised and systematic programme of torture and mistreatment of persons deprived of their freedom." He further stated that these documents indicated "the possible existence of concerted actions by the US administration for the execution of a multitude of crimes of torture against persons deprived of their freedom in Guantanamo and other prisons including that of Bagram" in Afghanistan. [Obama recently sought additional funding from Congress to expand Bagram.]
This case was brought before the court by former Gitmo prisoners who told the court that they were victims of torture at the prison. The case is not related to another investigation by the Spanish court into those who authored the “torture memos” and enabled the torture. In that case, Judge Garzon accepted the initial complaint. The Spanish attorney general then intervened in the case to recommend against proceeding. The case was then assigned to Judge Eloy Velasco, who now has the authority to decide whether to open the investigation. The case is still pending. Six Bush regime officials, including John Yoo, are being investigated as to their role in torture in that case.
In this new case the court’s writ did not name specific officials as defendants. Rather it refers to investigating the roles of those responsible for authorizing, planning, and executing the torture program. We know that top-level meetings were held at the White House to discuss torture. Practically all the top regime officials were present at one or more of these meetings. This includes Cheney, Rice, Ashcroft, Gonzales, Rumsfeld, Powell, and others. Bush has admitted knowing of them and approving of the meetings. Potentially all of these officials could face charges depending on where the Spanish investigation leads.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which represents many of the men detained by the U.S. government at Guantánamo, praised the court’s decision. CCR attorneys hailed the decision as an important step in holding these officials and others accountable for their crimes.
CCR President Michael Ratner stated, “The torture conspirators are in deep trouble.  Even if the U.S. fails in its obligation to criminally investigate, Spain will. The conspirators can run, but they can't hide. It is conceivable that arrest warrants have already been issued or will be soon. Indictments will almost surely follow.”

CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren further said, “The Obama administration should not need pressure from abroad to uphold our own laws and initiate a criminal investigation in the U.S., but I hope the Spanish cases will impress on the president and Attorney General Eric Holder how seriously the rest of the world takes these crimes and show them the issue will not go away.”

If the court issues arrest warrants, they could apply throughout Europe. CCR expressed hope that other countries in Europe whose citizens and residents were subjected to torture and cruel treatment at Guantanamo and elsewhere will also initiate such investigations. CCR also has torture cases representing former Guantánamo detainees pending in U.S. courts.
World Can’t Wait will continue to follow these various cases and report on further developments.


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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.