Days: Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales with
President George W. Bush, in 2006.
Rue 89, France
If U.S. Won't
Prosecute Bush, at Least 145 Other Countries Should
President George W. Bush not only admits - he boasts - of having authorized the
practice known as waterboarding. A total of 145 other countries are
signatories to the U.N. Convention Against Torture. And all have committed to
enforcing its provisions, even against offenders residing in other territories.
… If the Spain tribunal were to condemn him, even in absentia, he would then be
subject to the mutual extradition treaty in force among 24 European countries."
Cerium, Montréal: One can't blame him for dodging his responsibility. In his
autobiographical book Decision Points, which was released this week in
the United States, former President George W. Bush not only admits - he boasts
- of having authorized the practice known as waterboarding during interrogations
of suspected members of al-Qaeda by the CIA.
The problem? Bush doesn't
believe this method of “enhanced interrogation” to be torture. But the American
administration - those that came before and after Bush's - as well as international
experts and foreign tribunals, believe the contrary.
Has he then, with this
confession, rendered himself vulnerable to criminal charges (and former Vice President
Cheney as well, who said during an interview last February that he was a "staunch
supporter of waterboarding”)?
For the moment, the Obama Administration
has refused to open the issue of the responsibility of Bush Administration officials
for the use of torture, and the current president has specifically indicated
that he will not pursue CIA staff who practiced torture, under the pretense
they were operating with the authorization of the Justice Department, which had
fallaciously told them that simulated drowning, among other things, was not
The former president's statements
have rekindled the debate and raise the pressure on the current president.
The organization Human Rights
Watch, which counts 350 cases of torture and cruel treatment of detainees
committed by 600 American troops and civilians, noted this Wednesday that the U.N.
Convention Against Torture obliges its signatories, one of which is the
United States, to prosecute persons responsible of torture, and is pressing the
Obama Administration to initiate proceedings.
Religious Campaign Against Torture, which is comprised of 290 churches, has
called for a commission of inquiry to investigate the matter and accuses the
former president of having “violated American and International law.”
BUSH INDICTED … IN SPAIN?
But if no action is taken
against Bush in his home country, that opens the possibility of indictment in a
A total of 145 other countries,
including Canada, are signatories to the U.N. Convention Against Torture. And all
signatories have committed to enforcing its provisions, even against offenders
residing in other territories.
Therefore, with varying
degrees of success, proceedings have been initiated in Spain and Belgium
against foreign heads of state, notably the Chilean Pinochet. Water boarding is now
considered a form of torture worldwide, and those responsible must be prosecuted.
In fact, a court in Madrid last
January opened proceedings against Bush advisors who wrote memos illegally authorizing
the use of torture. The case is pending, but the issue was pursued precisely
because no American authority took action against the officials responsible.
It's a safe bet that George W.
Bush is now in the crosshairs of the Spain tribunal. If it were to condemn him,
even in absentia, he would then be subject to the mutual extradition treaty in
force among 24 European countries.
In other words, Bush couldn't
travel to any of these countries without incurring the risk of being deported
to Spain to serve out his sentence.