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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Imperial Reach of Barack Obama: Spain, Guantanamo, and Beyond

President Barack Obama's friendship with Spanish PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero seems to be saving face for the American centrist who wants to "look forward as opposed to looking backwards." Once again, politics take priority as human rights and international law take a back seat as Guantanamo and Bagram remain open and its architects enjoy the privileges of the power elite.

Spain's Attorney General, Candido Conde-Pumpido, announced that the case against six former Bush Administration officials is a "plaything." Conde-Pumpido, in an AP article, said that prosecutions for torture should only proceed with people who were actually present at the time of the torture. The American men who were facing possible indictment by Spanish investigative judges are considered the architects of torture, not the torturers themselves. Read the BBC story here.

The weak argument put forth by Spain's top law-enforcement official wreaks of political pressure and back-door dealings. The best justification that the Spanish polity can muster to avoid a political quandary with the United States is nonsequitur, illogical, immoral and inconsistent with past human rights violations and war crime tribunals that prosecuted and convicted policymakers as perpetrators. Consider Israel's case against Adolf Eichmann, the "architect of the Holocaust." This is not to compare Nazi crimes against the Jews and humanity with the Bush Administration's war on terror, but that there is international legal precedent for pursuing the masterminds of war crimes, not just those who carried them through. How can there ever be a lasting peace and if those most responsible for creating systems of oppression and machines of torture and indefinite detention in dark prisons are considered innocent?
For a comprehensive understanding of how the U.S. torture regime came to life, check out "Anatomy of Bush's Torture 'Paradigm.'"

While there is a new president in Washington, many of the faces from the Bush Administration remain the same. Let us not be naive enough to think that the Spanish government is not bowing to pressures from its long-time ally. Finally, Glen Greenwald breaks down the Spanish law that makes such investigations possible: "The Differing Views of the "Rule of Law." Maybe former law professor Obama could use a refresher course himself as a reminder of what the great Dr. King said: "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

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