Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Judge Baltasar Garzón sez:

US President should be tried for war crimes. I'll give you the basics:
Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge who sought to prosecute Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet, has called for US President George W. Bush and his allies to be tried for war crimes over Iraq.

Writing in El Pais on the fourth anniversary of the invasion, Garzón stated, “Today, March 20, marks four years since the formal start of the war on Iraq. Instigated by the United States and Great Britain, and supported by Spain among other countries, one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history began.

“Breaking every international law, and under the pretext of the war against terror, there has taken place since 2003 a devastating attack on the rule of law and against the very essence of the international community. In its path, institutions such as the United Nations were left in tatters, from which it has not yet recovered.” “Instead of commemorating the war,” Garzón continues, “we should be horrified, screaming and demonstrating against the present massacre created as a consequence of that war.”

He then writes that George W. Bush and his allies should eventually face war crimes charges for their actions in Iraq: “We should look more deeply into the possible criminal responsibility of the people who are, or were, responsible for this war and see whether there is sufficient evidence to make them answer for it.” “For many it would be merely a question of political responsibility, but judicial actions in the US are beginning to emerge, as is the case of the verdict passed on one of vicepresident Cheney’s collaborators, [I. Lewis Libby] which point in a different direction.”

“There is enough of an argument in 650,000 deaths for this investigation and inquiry to start without more delay,” he added.


Garzón has investigated everything from Basque terrorism to the March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombings, whose alleged perpetrators are currently on trial. He led the investigation into the rightist terror group Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL), whose creation was attributed to the Socialist Party (PSOE) government of the day. He also banned Herri Batasuna, the political arm of ETA—the first political party to be outlawed since the death of Franco in 1975.

Back in 1996, the Progressive Union of Prosecutors filed criminal complaints against the Argentine and Chilean military for the disappearance of Spanish citizens under the dictatorships that ruled them in the 1970s and 1980s. One year later, Garzón issued an arrest order that included Argentine Navy Captain Adolfo Scilingo, who made a televised confession in 1995 of “death flights” in which hundreds of detainees were thrown from airplanes to their deaths in the Atlantic Ocean. Scilingo was detained after travelling to Spain voluntarily.

Former Chilean President Pinochet was arrested during a medical check-up in London in 1998 based on a warrant issued by Garzón. For months the judge attempted to have the dictator extradited to Spain to be tried for heading the military coup in 1973 that overthrew the elected president Salvador Allende and the subsequent murder of thousands of students and workers. He has also signalled his intention to question Richard Nixon’s national security adviser Henry Kissinger about events in Chile, after declassified documents released by the US State Department and the CIA suggested that Kissinger was well aware of what was happening.

The fact that such a prominent international judicial figure openly speaks of bringing war crimes judgement against the leaders of the US, UK and Spain is an indication that the entire Iraq campaign is heading towarda disaster and a response to the mounting opposition around the world. Yet his statement was given only the most cursory coverage by the media in the United States and internationally. No publication chose to make an editorial comment and most simply reproduced or slightly amended a Reuters report. Such is the level of hostility to the Iraq war and occupation in Spain, however, that even sections of ex-Prime Minister Aznar’s Popular Party (PP) are publicly declaring that his attendance at the meeting in March 2003, in the Azores that supported Bush in his decision to invade Iraq was an error. Reporting on their criticism, the right-wing newspaper El Mundo commented on March 20, “The PP should not continue avoiding an auto-criticism on Iraq.”
My emphasis added (h/t Madman in the Marketplace). If the US won't hold its war criminals accountable, the odds are that such justice will be imposed (or such imposition will be attempted) from outside the US. In the meantime, we can expect more current and former Bu$hCo officials to flee efforts to arrest them during overseas public appearances, such as with former US "ambassador" to the UN John Bolton today, and former "Defense" Secretary Donald Rumsfeld previously. At bare minimum, these folks will find that appearances outside of the US borders will be too risky for them, as hired security goons can only do so much to keep angry justice seekers at bay.

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