Earlier this week, news that Spain intended to prosecute Bush administration officials for torture at Gitmo had the Left all atwitter, in the same way that they buzzed about frog-marching Karl Rove out of the White House during the Plame investigation. It turns out that Spain was a lot less enthusiastic than they were. Spain’s Attorney General threw a large bucket of cold water on Spainmas, recommending that the country drop the whole matter:
Spanish prosecutors will recommend against opening an investigation into whether six Bush administration officials sanctioned torture against terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, the country’s attorney-general said Thursday.
Candido Conde-Pumpido said the case against the high-ranking U.S. officials — including former U.S. Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales — was without merit because the men were not present when the alleged torture took place.
“If one is dealing with a crime of mistreatment of prisoners of war, the complaint should go against those who physically carried it out,” Conde-Pumpido said in a breakfast meeting with journalists. He said a trial of the men would have turned Spain’s National Court “into a plaything” to be used for political ends.
Spain likes to consider itself omnipotent in criminal matters. They have the notion that they can apply “universal justice” by trying people for crimes committed outside of their own sovereignty. That’s a tremendously arrogant notion, one that challenges American sovereignty in this case. We declared our independence from European oversight 233 years ago, and we don’t answer to Spanish courts. The proper channel for issues concerning public officials between two sovereign nations is diplomatic, not prosecutorial.
Conde-Pumpido didn’t decline the case on those grounds, however. He just saw that the issue was political, not criminal, and that Spain wanted to grandstand for some popularity. He pointed out that the proper forum for complaint in this case was the US courts, not a Spanish judicial panel. Conde-Pumpido wants the original judge recused from the complaint as well, in order to make sure that this moves no farther through the system.
Douglas Feith, one of the potential “defendants”, called this a “national insult,” and he’s right. Only those who don’t believe in American sovereignty and independence would cheer this attempt to make Spain the arbiter of American action. The judge could still order the prosecution, although with this recommendation it’s unlikely. If Spain moves forward, the Obama administration must defend American sovereignty by imposing stiff diplomatic consequences for this national insult.