Enabling the Spanish Inquisition?

posted at 12:12 pm on May 1, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Last month, I wrote that the effort by Spain to indict Bush administration officials over their actions during wartime would present Barack Obama an opportunity to defend American sovereignty.  My former co-blogger, Dafydd ab Hugh, writes today that not only has Obama failed to do so, but may have actively undermined it with his documents release.  And Dafydd isn’t entirely convinced it wasn’t deliberate.  He picks up on a statement from Eric Holder that sounds very much like surrender:

In speaking to reporters Wednesday, [Attorney General Eric] Holder also said it is possible the United States could cooperate with a foreign court’s investigation of Bush administration officials.

Holder spoke before the announcement that a Spanish magistrate had opened an investigation of Bush officials on harsh interrogation methods. Holder didn’t rule out cooperating in such a probe.

“Obviously, we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it,” Holder said.

“This is an administration that is determined to conduct itself by the rule of law and to the extent that we receive lawful requests from an appropriately created court, we would obviously respond to it,” he said.

Any country?  For any purpose?  Holder only committed to “look” at such requests, but for what purpose?  A proper response would be to instruct other countries on the meaning of sovereignty and ask them to refer any inquiries to the State Department.  That’s where diplomatic inquiries belong, and prosecutorial inquiries shouldn’t be considered at all.

Dafydd sees surrender to the Spanish Inquisition in the making, and for a pupose:

If Garzón has legal authority to demand we hand over evidence, he also has legal authority to demand we hand over “war criminals,” from American military personnel, to John Yoo, to Jay Bybee, to William Haynes, to Douglas Feith, to Alberto Gonzales, to Richard Myers, to Dick Cheney — even to former President George W. Bush himself.

This is even more outrageous than the suggestion that we prosecute any of these individuals ourselves, or that we form a “truth commission” and haul them before it for public show trials. This is, in essence, outsourcing the prosecution of the previous administration to foreign courts. Call it “extraordinary judicion.”

If we ever once accept that a European court — and not even a recognized “international” one! — has jurisdiction over actions committed by American officials here in the United States, and can prosecute them for “crimes” that are not even recognized here, then we have crossed a line from which we can never retreat: The United States will cease to be a sovereign power.

If Eric Holder and Barack Obama accept this idea, they will actually have brought about what used to be a paranoid fantasy among the John Birch Society and other lunatics — “one-world government,” run according to European, not American rules.

Again, as I wrote last month, such machinations are an insult to American sovereignty.  The Obama administration has a duty to defend American sovereignty and to stop old colonial powers (heh) from imposing their laws on other nations.  That’s the height of arrogance, and if Barack Obama doesn’t want to stand up to it, Congress should demand to know why Obama and Holder are cooperating with an attempt by Spain to impose their laws on American citizens.  It goes against everything for which this nations stands.


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