Spain backs off the Bush Six

SPAIN BACKS OFF THE BUSH SIX…. Earlier this week, it appeared prosecutors in Spain were moving forward with plans to charge six Bush administration officials — Alberto Gonzales, Jay Bybee, John Yoo, William J. Haynes II, David Addington, and Doug Feith — for their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantanamo Bay. Because Spanish law includes provisions to pursue cases beyond national borders in cases of torture and war crimes, charges were hardly outside the realm of possibility.

As of today, the prosecutions appear far less likely.

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.

Well, there’s an idea.

This shouldn’t be considered especially radical. There’s reason to believe that Americans in a position of authority violated U.S. laws. As a rule, when there’s evidence to suggest criminal activity, there’s an investigation. If the facts warrant it, there are charges, followed by a trial.

I realize it’s politically inconvenient. It’s also clear that Republican leaders — remember when they used to call themselves the law-and-order party? — would be apoplectic if prosecutors tried to hold suspected criminals accountable for their alleged misdeeds.

But as the story out of Spain helps demonstrate, the eyes of the world are watching, waiting to see how we apply the rule of law.

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