By Jeremy Scahill
Despite rhetoric coming from the White House that Americans should look "forward not backwards" when it comes to pursuing those responsible for torture, Spain doesn't seem to be listening. Judge Balthazar Garzon, who has been pursuing a criminal case against six former Bush administration officials for torture, has now authorized a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the US torture program at Guantanamo. The recently released torture memos and declassified Senate reports, Garzon said, show that at Guantanamo there is "an authorized and systematic plan for torture and harsh treatment of people deprived of their freedom without any charges and without the most basic elemental rights for detainees, set forth and demanded by international treaties."
According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, Garzon's "writ did not name specific officials as defendants but speaks of investigating the roles of those responsible for authorizing, planning and executing the torture program, particularly in light of the newly release torture memos and the Senate Armed Services Committee report. The case could lead to arrest warrants in Europe and, according to CCR attorneys, places new pressure on the Obama administration to appoint its own special prosecutor to investigate the crimes committed by former officials."
CCR said in a statement today that new case could also include the torture memo lawyers and "may well lead to investigations of top officials," including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. There are at least four Spanish citizens alleged to have been tortured by the US at Guantanamo.
"The torture conspirators are in deep trouble," says CCR president Michael Ratner. "Even if the U.S. fails in its obligation to criminally investigate, Spain will. The conspirators can run, but they can't hide. It is conceivable that arrest warrants have already been issued or will be soon. Indictments will almost surely follow. The torture team's travel options are narrowing."