Robert Litt, a former top Clinton administration Justice Department prosecutor, said Obama should focus on moving forward with anti-torture policy instead of looking back.Senator Leahy's comments reminded me that, pardon or no pardon, prosecution or no prosecution in the US, none of that entire class of criminals will be travelling abroad any time soon. Or ever. It's only a matter of time before charges are filed against both the masterminds and tools of war crimes in Iraq. Writing in 2007:
"Both for policy and political reasons, it would not be beneficial to spend a lot of time hauling people up before Congress or before grand juries and going over what went on," Litt said at a Brookings Institution discussion about Obama's legal policy. "To as great of an extent we can say, the last eight years are over, now we can move forward - that would be beneficial both to the country and the president, politically". . .
Asked this weekend during a Vermont Public Radio interview if Bush administration officials would face war crimes, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy flatly said, "In the United States, no."
In an opinion piece in the newspaper El Pais, published on the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon said the war was "one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history".Garzon, famous for his efforts to bring Pinochet to justice, has caused tyrants across the globe to think twice before booking their holiday plans:
"We should look more deeply into the possible criminal responsibility of the people who are, or were, responsible for this war and see whether there is sufficient evidence to make them answer for it," Garzon wrote.
"There is enough of an argument in 650,000 deaths for this investigation and inquiry to start without more delay," he said.
Garzon, who became famous in 1999 when he tried to extradite Pinochet from Britain and try him for crimes against humanity, was particularly critical of the former Spanish government, a major backer of the Iraq invasion.
"Those who joined the U.S. president in the war against Iraq have as much or more responsibility than him because, despite having doubts and biased information, they put themselves in the hands of the aggressor to carry out an ignoble act of death and destruction that continues to this day," he said.
On October 17, 1998, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London at the judge's request.With or without the International Criminal Court, as soon as one of these war criminals puts their guard down, they're going down.
Garzon accused Pinochet of genocide, terrorism and torture, based on testimony from the Spanish families of people who had disappeared in Chile.
The British government eventually refused to extradite him to Spain, citing health reasons.
But the move was not in vain. The human rights organisation Amnesty International said the arrest had a "domino effect".
"The attempt to bring Augusto Pinochet to justice has been of great international importance in the struggle to end impunity for crimes against humanity," it said.
This was especially true in Latin America, where the governments of Chile, Argentina and Guatemala decided to investigate crimes against ex-dictators.
Judge Garzon has nursed a movement born in the Nuremberg war trials and which continued with war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, the International Criminal Court and the recognition of universal jurisprudence by countries such as Belgium, Germany and Canada.
The Spanish judiciary has itself confirmed the "Garzon doctrine" by recognising the principle of "universal competence" under which courts can hears cases of genocide and crimes against humanity wherever they occur and whatever the nationality of the defendant.
Spanish courts have accepted 11 cases involving crimes against humanity, genocide or torture in Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, Tibet, Guatemala, the Western Sahara and Rwanda.