Published on Tuesday, April 14, 2009 by The Daily Beast
The Bush Six to Be Indicted
Spanish prosecutors will seek criminal charges against Alberto Gonzales and five high-ranking Bush administration officials for sanctioning torture at Guantánamo.
Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo, several reliable sources close to the investigation have told The Daily Beast. Their decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday before the Spanish central criminal court, the Audencia Nacional, in
In this Jan. 6, 2005 file photo, then-Attorney general nominee Alberto Gonzales testifies during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
The six defendants-in addition to Gonzales, Federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, University of California law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith-are accused of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention in "the war on terror." The case arises in the context of a pending proceeding before the court involving terrorism charges against five Spaniards formerly held at Guantánamo. A group of human-rights lawyers originally filed a criminal complaint asking the court to look at the possibility of charges against the six American lawyers. Baltasar Garzón Real, the investigating judge, accepted the complaint and referred it to Spanish prosecutors for a view as to whether they would accept the case and press it forward. "The evidence provided was more than sufficient to justify a more comprehensive investigation," one of the lawyers associated with the prosecution stated.
But prosecutors will also ask that Judge Garzón, an internationally known figure due to his management of the case against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and other high-profile cases, step aside. The case originally came to Garzón because he presided over efforts to bring terrorism charges against the five Spaniards previously held at Guantánamo. Spanish prosecutors consider it "awkward" for the same judge to have both the case against former
Judge Garzón's name grabs headlines in Spain today less because of his involvement in the Gonzales torture case than because of his supervision of the Gürtel affair, in which leading figures of the conservative Partido Popular in Madrid and Valencia are now under investigation or indictment on suspicions of corruptly awarding public-works contracts. Garzón is also the nation's leading counterterrorism judge, responsible for hundreds of investigations targeting Basque terrorist groups, as well as a major recent effort to identify and root out al Qaeda affiliates operating in the Spanish enclaves of North Africa.
Announcement of the prosecutor's decision was delayed until after the Easter holiday in order not to interfere with a series of meetings between President Barack Obama and Spanish Prime Minister José Zapatero. However, contrary to a claim contained in an editorial  on April 8 in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama State Department has been in steady contact with the Spanish government about the case. Shortly after the case was filed on March 17, chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza was invited to the
Spanish officials are highly conscious of the political context of the case and have measured the Obama administration's low-key reaction attentively. Although Spain is a NATO ally that initially supported "the war on terror" under Bush with a commitment of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, relations with the Bush administration deteriorated after Zapatero became prime minister and acted quickly to withdraw the Spanish contingent in Iraq. In the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican John McCain referred to
The Bush Six labored at length to create a legal black hole in which they could implement their policies safe from the scrutiny of American courts and the American media. Perhaps they achieved much of their objective, but the law of unintended consequences has kicked in. If
Scott Horton is a law professor and writer on legal and national-security affairs for Harper's magazine and The American Lawyer, among other publications.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs