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At the White House, Joking about a Torture Investigation?

Posted By admin On April 15, 2009 @ 11:12 am In Featured Stories | Comments Disabled

David Corn
Mother Jones [1]
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I was asked to go on Hardball on Tuesday night to discuss the news that Spanish prosecutors are likely to recommend a full investigation be conducted to determine if six former Bush administration officials—including ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales—ought to be indicted for having sanctioned torture at Guantanamo. So I thought I’d ask White House press secretary Robert Gibbs about the matter.

This could become a true headache for the White House—a high-profile case in which Spanish prosecutors bring charges against Gonzales; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense; David Addington, former counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, a former Pentagon lawyer; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, two former Justice Department officials. Several steps must occur before any prosecution proceeds. If the prosecutors determine a full criminal investigation is warranted–as is expected–it will be up to a Spanish judge to open a full-fledged inquiry that could produce indictments. He could decide not to accept the recommendation. And, of course, it’s possible that an investigation could end without indictments. The Spanish hook for the case is a simple one: Five Guantanamo detainees were either Spanish citizens or residents. And, by the way, Spanish courts claim jurisdiction that extends to other nations when it comes to torture and war crimes.

At the White House, Joking about a Torture Investigation? obama 340x169 [2]

What would the Obama administration do, if the Spanish judge currently overseeing the Bush Six case, Baltasar Garzon (who is famous for pursuing terrorists and for having chased after Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet), greenlights the investigation? At the Tuesday afternoon White House daily briefing, I asked Gibbs if the administration would cooperate with any requests from the Spaniards for information and documents. He had a predictable response: “I don’t want to get involved in hypotheticals.” He quickly pivoted to point out that Obama has moved to prohibit torture at Gitmo and elsewhere.

I posed a follow-up: Have you spoken to the Spanish government about this case? He seized on my use of the word “you” and, with a broad smile, said, “I have not spoken with the Spanish.” Reporters in the room laughed. I obviously did not mean him personally; the “you” had referred to the Obama administration. Nor did I mean, I added, Bill Burton, the deputy press secretary, or any of the other press aides in the room. The point was whether the administration had been in contact with the Spanish government about the Bush Six investigation. “The Justice Department?” I asked. Gibbs, though, essentially brushed off the question: “I would send you to Justice. Like I said, I’ve not spoken” to the Spanish government.

Full article here [1]


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URLs in this post:

[1] Mother Jones : http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/04/white-house-joking-about-torture-investigation

[2] Image: http://www.prisonplanet.tv/subscribe.html

[3] US memo drafters were complicit in torture, UN torture monitor says: http://www.prisonplanet.com/us-memo-drafters-were-complicit-in-torture-un-torture-monitor-says.html

[4] Bush aware of ‘unreliability’ of torture info: http://www.prisonplanet.com/bush-aware-of-unreliability-of-torture-info.html

[5] George W Bush should be prosecuted over torture, says human rights group: http://www.prisonplanet.com/george-w-bush-should-be-prosecuted-over-torture-says-human-rights-group.html

[6] New Evidence Supports Claims Of ‘Pharmacologic Torture’ At Guantánamo: http://www.prisonplanet.com/new-evidence-supports-claims-of-pharmacologic-torture-at-guantanamo.html

[7] Bush expected to pardon those with torture links: http://www.prisonplanet.com/bush-expected-to-pardon-those-with-torture-links.html

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