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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/24/09

Spain copies US practice of universal jurisdiction

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The Washington Post reports on the trend of Spanish justices to investigate human rights abuses elsewhere, including torture by the Bush administration, under universal jurisdiction. As usual with the MSM, the key information — that countries unhappy with Spain’s investigations, such as the US and Israel, themselves support universal jurisdiction when convenient — is hidden in the final paragraphs:

Other advocates, however, point out that Israel and the United States have embraced the principle of universal jurisdiction when it suits them.

In 1960, Israeli agents kidnapped Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and tried him in Israel; he was convicted and executed.

More recently, the U.S. Department of Justice has supported efforts to have Spain pursue investigations against two alleged Nazi concentration camp guards living in the United States. The Justice Department lacks the jurisdiction to prosecute the men for crimes committed decades ago in Europe but would like to deport them to Spain to stand trial there.

They do not even mention the Bush administration’s successful prosecution of Liberian Chuckie Taylor [Son of then-President Charles Taylor] for torture in US courts. At the time of the conviction, an FBI official asserted universal jurisdiction over torture:

“This sentence sends a resounding message that torture will not be tolerated here at home or by U.S. nationals abroad,” said Executive Assistant Director Arthur M. Cummings II, of the FBI National Security Division. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate such acts wherever they occur.”

And a Justice Department — yes, the same Justice Department that legitimated torture by US officials — asserted the gravity of the crime of torture, when committed by those out of favor in Washington:

A recent Justice Department court filing describes torture - which the U.S. has been accused of in the war on terror - as a flagrant and pernicious abuse of power and authority” that warrants severe punishment of Taylor. “It undermines respect for and trust in authority, government and a rule of law,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Heck Miller in last week’s filing. “The gravity of the offense of torture is beyond dispute. [Emphasis added by Glenn Greenwald.]

If we had a real independent press in this country, the article on Spain would have been headlined “Spain copies US practice, without hypocrisy!” But American exceptionalism insists that other countries don’t copy US practice, but, rather, do as they are told by the US.

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Stephen Soldz is psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He is co-founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and is President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He was a psychological consultant on two of (more...)
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