Obama Administration Pushed Hard to Protect Bush Torture Lawyers
Saturday, January 01, 2011
Shortly after the his 2009 inauguration, President Barack Obama and his administration turned to two leading Republican politicians to help key subordinates of President George W. Bush who faced criminal prosecution in Spain for orchestrating the secret torture program used against terrorism suspects.
Mel Martínez, former chairman of the national Republican Party, housing secretary under Bush and U.S. senator, was asked by Obama officials to deliver a tough message to the Spanish government during an overseas visit. The message: Back off on the human rights trial or risk a cooling of relations with Washington. Martínez’s lobbying followed similar efforts in Spain by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire).
A senior Spanish diplomat responded to Martínez by saying in a written cable: “The independence of the judiciary and the process must be respected,” and that the government would not pressure Judge Baltasar Garzón to drop the case.
However, the day after Martínez met with Spain’s acting foreign minister, Angel Lossada, Spain’s attorney general, Cándido Conde-Pumpido, announced that he would not support the prosecution of American officials unless the U.S. government declined to pursue the case.
Garzón, who had developed an international reputation for going after prominent human rights violators, including former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, was thus sidelined.
Technically, the case is still open while the Spanish government waits for word from the Obama administration about its own possible actions against the Bush officials…word that apparently will never come.
The Bush officials targeted by Garzón were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; David Addington, chief of staff for former Vice President Dick Cheney; former undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith; William Haynes, who was the Pentagon’s general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, both former senior Justice Department legal advisers. Gregg still represents New Hampshire in the Senate, while Martínez is now the Chairman of Florida, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean operations for JPMorgan Chase.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
From Florida to Spain, Intrigue to Stop a Judge (by Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald)
Obama Fought to Protect Bush Officials from Torture Charges in Spain (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe (by David Corn Mother Jones)
Attorney General Recommends Court Not Pursue GTMO Criminal Case vs. Former USG Officials (State Department Cable)
Prosecutor Weighs GTMO Criminal Case vs. Former USG Officials (State Department Cable)
Spanish Court to Consider Torture Investigation of 6 Bush Officials (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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