Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer
Apparently not content to see its own justice system befouled, the U.S. government has tried to corrupt courts in other countries.
That is one of many nauseating lessons from the recent WikiLeaks dump of cables from the U.S. State Department. U.S. officials, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, have tried to corruptly influence the outcomes of three criminal matters pending in Spain's national security court, according to a new article from Scott Horton, at Harper's.
The cases involve the death of a Spanish cameraman from the U.S. shelling of a Baghdad hotel, the torture of Spanish subjects at Guantanomo, and the use of Spanish airfields and bases for extraordinary-renditions flights.
Do U.S. officials want these cases handled in the manner required by our own constitution, which involves due process and equal protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment? Not at all. In fact, it appears the U.S. wants the cases to get the kind of treatment they might receive in a banana republic--complete with compromised prosecutors and judges.
These cables reveal a large-scale, closely coordinated effort by the State Department to obstruct these criminal investigations. High-ranking U.S. visitors such as former Republican Party Chair Mel Martinez, Senator Greg Judd, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were corralled into this effort, warning Spanish political leaders that the criminal investigations would "be misunderstood" and would harm bilateral relations. The U.S. diplomats also sought out and communicated directly with judges and prosecutors, attempting to steer the cases into the hands of judges of their choosing. The cables also reflect an absolutely extraordinary rapport between the Madrid embassy and Spanish prosecutors, who repeatedly appear to be doing the embassy's bidding.
WikiLeaks exposes blatant attempts by U.S. officials to push for judge shopping:
The cables show that the embassy was briefed in detail about the pending cases, receiving information that was not publicly accessible and would have been known only to the prosecutors and the magistrates handling the cases. The embassy engaged Spanish authorities in detailed discussions about the specific judges handling these cases and on at least one occasion extracted a promise from prosecutors to seek to have one sensitive case--in which former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales, former vice presidential chief of staff David Addington, John Yoo, Jay Baybee, Douglas Feith, and William J. Haynes figured as potential defendants--reassigned to a judge they considered friendlier to the United States. In fact, around the time of the cables in question the prosecutors acted just as the cable suggests they would.
This might be one of the most grotesque news reports I've ever read. Remember how the Bush administration claimed it was trying to promote democratic principles in the Middle East? Meanwhile, it was promoting blatant unlawfulness in Spanish courts.
Is it any wonder that the Obama administration has taken a "look forward, not backwards" approach to the apparent justice-related crimes of Bush officials? Apparently it's because the Obama crowd shares the Bush crowd's warped view on basic matters of right and wrong. And should we be surprised that the Obama administration seems to be scrambling for a method to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange?
Meanwhile, it appears U.S. citizens should be building monuments in Assange's honor. He might be the last hope for salvaging what's left of our national integrity.