Court Cases on Bush Torture and Rendition Policies Shift to Europe

Rights groups have aimed at prosecutions in Europe after facing state's-secrets barriers in the US

While the Obama administration has stuck to its promise of immunizing Bush administration officials who condoned and conducted torture, other countries have not signed on to that sort of intransigence.

A Spanish judge in Madrid, Judge Pablo Rafael Ruz Gutierrez, decided the court would further investigate the case of four released Guantanamo captives who allege they were abused while in U.S. custody. A review of “medical data, a translation of a Human Rights Watch report, elaboration on material made public by WikiLeaks, and testimony from three senior U.S. military officers who served at Guantanamo,” reports McClatchy, will take place to determine the legality of the detainee treatment.

The Bush administration officials included in the probe are former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and two former Guantanamo commanders, retired Marine Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert and retired Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller.

And in London, the Crown Prosecution Service and Scotland Yard said Thursday announced further investigation into allegations of British involvement in the “extraordinary rendition” program during the Bush years. They will attempt to determine whether British intelligence agencies helped deliver two Libyan dissidents to former leader Moammar Gadhafi, where they were tortured.

These cases are indicative of a new tactic on the part of human rights organizations who are now pushing  for justice in European courts, after having faced blocks in U.S. courts as the state’s secrets privilege was invoked. The state’s secret privilege allows the government to stop a court case in its tracks on the basis that releasing information needed for the case would compromise national security. But the legal tool is used to shield U.S. officials from judicial scrutiny.

These tools were used to block justice during the Bush administration and now are used in the Obama administration. “There’s no accountability process,” said James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative. “There’re no court proceedings. There’re no truth commissions. There’s even less appetite today than there was three years ago.”



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