Judge Garzon Targets Cheney & Rice

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    Bob Fertik
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Spain's crusading prosecutor, Judge Baltasar Garzon, was not put in charge of prosecuting the Torture Lawyers - Judge Eloy Velasco is reviewing that case. But Garzon has opened a brand new case, according to AFP:

Judge Baltasar Garzon will probe the "perpetrators, the instigators, the necessary collaborators and accomplices" to crimes of torture...

Garzon said that documents declassified by the US administration and carried by US media "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" that flouts international conventions.

This points to "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.

Very interesting! And who exactly does he have in mind? GOTV got the scoop from human rights lawyer Philippe Sands on Fresh Air:

According to his sources the targets of this investigation include Condoleeza Rice and Richard B. Cheney. What is likely to happen next is for the investigation to proceed; if unappealed, a court date will be set, and the targets will be advised to appear. Garzón may then issue an arrest warrant that will be valid, at least in Spain, but possibly other countries. 

Today Eric Holder told reporters in Berlin he "did not rule out cooperating with such an investigation," and said he would provide evidence sought by Garzon if the request was legitimate:

"Obviously, we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it," Holder said.

"This is an administration that is determined to conduct itself by the rule of law and to the extent that we receive lawful requests from an appropriately-created court, we would obviously respond to it," he said.

Asked if that meant the U.S. would cooperate with a foreign court prosecuting Bush administration officials, Holder said he was talking about evidentiary requests, and would review any such request to see if the United States would comply.

It's not clear why Garzon needs any secret evidence, when Cheney confessed to Jonathan Karl on TV:

KARL: Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

CHENEY: I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency [CIA] in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.

Book 'em, Dano!

Update 1: CNN has a less comprehensible translation:

The declassified U.S. documents, he wrote, revealed "an authorized and systematic plan for torture and harsh treatment of people deprived of their freedom without any charges and without the most basic elemental rights for detainees, set forth and demanded by international treaties."

The alleged plan at Guantanamo and other prisons, including a detention facility at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, "acquire almost an official and therefore generate penal responsibility in the different structures of execution — command, design and authorization of this systematic plan of torture," the judge wrote.

Update 2: CCR is cheering:

The case could lead to arrest warrants in Europe and, according to CCR attorneys, places new pressure on the Obama administration to appoint its own special prosecutor to investigate the crimes committed by former officials...

CCR attorneys hailed the decision as an important step in holding these officials and others accountable for their crimes. The new case could also include the lawyers and may well lead to investigations of top officials, including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

Update 3: If Condi tries this "Nixonian defense" in Spain, Judge Garzon will convict her in 35 seconds:

Q: Is waterboarding torture?

RICE: The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture. So that's -- And by the way, I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency, that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did.

Q: Okay. Is waterboarding torture in your opinion?

RICE: I just said, the United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.