Skip to main content

Earlier this month, US-based lawyer William F. Pepper submitted a legal opinion in support of the Spanish investigation into various tortures that took place during the Bush administration.

Pepper encouraged the Spanish investigators to broaden their scope to include George W. Bush personally, saying;

"It would be an injustice not to prosecute those who occupied the highest positions of authority. It would be like processing Eichmann and overlooking Hitler..."

Below find an English translation from Spain's Publico, the story was first published May 9, 2009, in Spanish.

U.S. Lawyers point to Bush for the tortures

The lawyer of Martin Luther King’s family contributes a thorough report to the Spanish lawsuit to reinforce the charge -- The American Civil Liberties Union offers their colaboration

Pere Rusiñol in Madrid (Público)
Translation: Lynn Strother

A group of lawyers in the United States, led by William F. Pepper, the veteran human rights lawyer linked to Martin Luther King’s family, have joined the Spanish lawsuit about Guantanamo and the tortures of the Bush administration. Pepper has contributed a 121 page document to the prosecution, in which he defends Spain’s right to investigate, and suggests that the proceedings be widened to charge former president George W. Bush directly.

The U.S. lawyers also contribute 45 documents to the lawsuit – some, declassified recently; others, of public knowledge for years – that permit the "tracking of the process of decision making" that led to the application of methods equivalent to torture with the detainees of the "war against terrorism".

All of these documents are now part of the lawsuit that the judge Eloy Velasco is preparing in the National High Court against six lawyers who built the "legal scaffolding" which led to Guantanamo. They will also be included in the twin process being prepared by Baltazar Garzón, in which, besides the charge against the lawyers  they demand action against political figures of the Bush administration, like the former head of the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, and his advisor on national security and later Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

The extensive document of the U.S. lawyers requests the investigation be widened to include Bush and his vice-president Dick Cheney. "It would be an injustice not to prosecute those who occupied the highest positions of authority. It would be like processing Eichmann and overlooking Hitler", wrote Pepper before presenting his legal position.

Quote by Conde-Pumpido

The 71 year old lawyer, who studied at Columbia University and the London School of Economics, quotes the Spanish Attorney-General, Cándido Conde-Pumpido to reinforce his petition that Bush also be investigated.  Conde-Pumpido charged very severely againt the initial lawsuit – presented only against Bush’s lawyers – and classified it as "fraudulent" because it was directed against the lawyers and not the responsible politicians.

The double investigation by the Spanish High Court about the legalization of practices equivalent to torture – like waterboarding – have already made strong inroads in the U.S. and not only in the form of editorials in the related press.

The Obama administration will have to answer a plea commission sent by Judge Velasco interested in learning if there is an ongoing investigation in the U.S. And the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, has made it clear that he intends to collaborate with the judicial requirements of other countries, in spite of the poisonous campaign against [the probe] started by heavyweight neocons like John Bolton.  

The lawyers in the U.S. have also taken the lawsuit in Spain very seriously.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) , the important NGO for civil rights, which forced the declassification of secret memoranda of the CIA, sent  the investigator Jameel Jaffer to Madrid for three days.  He offered the support of the organization so that Spain could go ahead with the prosecution.

Recruiting lawyers

Pepper’s group is now recruiting lawyers to also put them at the disposition of the lawsuit and create a network of support that includes activists and NGOs.  He wrote the report, that is already at the disposal of Spanish justice, himself.  "It has been many hours of work, but I think this has been the most important case in my life for the advancement of  international human rights law", he explained to Público from Washington, his base of operations besides London.

The document analyzes the presumed responsibility of Bush and his team from the 45 official texts received – from the declaration of national emergency, the 14th of September 2001, up to the recently declassified memoranda - , but it concentrates on reinforcing the right of Spain to apply universal jurisdiction because no lawsuit has been made in the U.S.

"The crimes that have been committed are a clear violation of international law. Not only have the obligations that most nations impose on each other by treaties been violated, but also the basic rules built up over centuries", Pepper concludes.

An icon for the civil rights NGO

William E.Pepper has been an example for the groups in the United States that defend civil rights for 40 years.  He was one of Martin Luther King’s close friends when he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, and later became the lawyer of reference of the family in their crusade to unmask who really was behind the crime.

Pepper has consecrated his life to this lawsuit, even defending James Earl Ray, who was found guilty for the assassination; and who the family of King always considered a mere sacrificial goat to avoid the exposure of those really responsible.  Pepper has published several books about these proceedings, the most recent of which is: An Act of State (in Spain, Un acto de Estado, published by Foca).

In the book, Pepper points to the CIA and the FBI as part of the plan to eliminate the bothersome King.  The book has been praised by Ramsey Clark, who was the attorney-general of the U.S. when the black leader was assassinated.

Pepper, who lives between the United Kingdom and the United States, has always combined his role as a lawyer – educated at Columbia, researcher at Oxford and lecturer at the best universities in the U.S., from Princeton to Harvard – with that of activist, which led him to Vietnam as a journalist.  He has also specialized in international law.

At 71 years old, he considers this lawsuit opened in Spain to be the most important one of his life towards claiming international responsibility and intends to dedicate body and soul to it.

---------------------------------------------

Please Digg.

Originally posted to reprehensor on Tue May 26, 2009 at 04:02 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Bush should be charged, but... (6+ / 0-)

    it will be easier to prosecute those charges once a few lower-ranking members of the cabal are staring at years inside a jail cell.

    I know the special interests and lobbyists are gearing up for a fight as we speak.
    My message to them is this: So am I -- President Barack Obama

    by Jimdotz on Tue May 26, 2009 at 04:14:28 AM PDT

  •  Baltazar Garzon gets it. William Pepper gets it.. (9+ / 0-)

    why DOESN'T OBAMA GET IT???

    Torture is against Federal law.  Those who order, enable or perform torture are criminals whohave violated Federal law.  Violators of Federal law are prosecuted by the Department of (yeah right) Justice.

    "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by bobdevo on Tue May 26, 2009 at 04:16:03 AM PDT

    •  He is waiting for popular demand to be clear. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brooklyn137

      Then no one can claim it is partisan.

      If it doesn't become clear he will move the Overton window until it is.

      Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

      by Demena on Tue May 26, 2009 at 05:06:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK, but the clock is ticking............ (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        allenjo

        and since no one is talking "war crimes trials" inside the US, the statutes of limitation on these crimes will start running out in 2010.

        "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

        by bobdevo on Tue May 26, 2009 at 06:37:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nope (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          allenjo

          War crimes are international crimes.  The statute of limitations only applies within the US and not to war crimes even there as international treaty outweighs domestic law according to the constitution.

          No, that you don't have to worry about.

          Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

          by Demena on Tue May 26, 2009 at 07:12:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You don't get it. (0+ / 0-)

            You tell me the last time a US citizen got prosecuted in the United States for a "war crime".  And we cannot count on an international prosecution.

            In fact, I don't WANT an international prosecution.  I want the fucking Department of Justice to do their job and prosecute OUR criminals in OUR courts.

            "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

            by bobdevo on Tue May 26, 2009 at 08:15:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I do get it. We just have to wait and see. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              bobdevo

              International prosecutions are already in progress.  They cannot however go the whole road while there is any chance the US will prosecute.

              Which I believe will happen anyway.

              Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

              by Demena on Tue May 26, 2009 at 08:25:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  "Which I believe will happen anyway": I hope so! (0+ / 0-)

                But I'm not optimistic.

                "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex" Dwight D. Eisenhower

                by bobdevo on Tue May 26, 2009 at 10:20:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  It was reported a few weeks ago (0+ / 0-)
    that the prosecutor has declined to seek indictments.

    We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

    by burrow owl on Tue May 26, 2009 at 04:26:18 AM PDT

  •  Wherever it leads, this helps (0+ / 0-)

    extend human rights and the rule of law, beyond our measly ex-president and his cronies, to the huge number of Pinochet types running so many countries today.

    "Neither a borrower nor a lender be"

    by HenryBurlingame on Tue May 26, 2009 at 04:27:28 AM PDT

  •  To repeat an earlier comment. (3+ / 0-)

    It's a disgrace that others have to do our dirty laundry.  

    "As the watchmen cannot be seen, they need not be on duty at all times, effectively leaving the watching to the watched." Jeremy Bentham

    by sceptical observer on Tue May 26, 2009 at 04:57:33 AM PDT

  •  Two things (3+ / 0-)
    1. The US is a big country with many lawyers. To call the opinion of one of them a "US legal opinion" as if it had any sort of weight beyond the views of one person is silly.  There is, of course, a "US legal opinion" that Obama is ineligible for the presidency.  
    1. Spain's legislature just voted to scrap the "universal jurisdiction" concept, didn't it?

    Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

    by Rich in PA on Tue May 26, 2009 at 05:40:09 AM PDT

    •  No. 2 - Only if it does not involve (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WattleBreakfast, Floande

      their citizens or residents.  That would affect the lawsuit against Israel for war crimes in Gaza, for example.

      But there are six citizens and/or residents of Spain who have been repatriated from GITMO for whom this lawsuit involves.

      "I gonna ride in South Dakota, with two girls in a light blue De Soto, Ya know one's named Jane, the other Blaine but they both had a racing motor..."

      by Jeffersonian Democrat on Tue May 26, 2009 at 06:26:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the Yoo (et al) case is as good as dead. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jeffersonian Democrat

        Like Spain is really going to go to bat against the US for a bunch of purely nominal Spaniards.  

        Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

        by Rich in PA on Tue May 26, 2009 at 06:29:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't know (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WattleBreakfast, Floande

          just clarifying the new Spanish law.

          I guess it depends how much the judges want to go after alleged war crimes and put another Pinochet feather in their cap or consequently lose international face if the case isn't that strong.

          I guess we'll just see how it develops.

          "I gonna ride in South Dakota, with two girls in a light blue De Soto, Ya know one's named Jane, the other Blaine but they both had a racing motor..."

          by Jeffersonian Democrat on Tue May 26, 2009 at 06:42:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Legal Opinion? (0+ / 0-)

      Rich in PA, I agree. Suggesting that this "legal opinion" has any standing is a gross overstatement of the facts.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue May 26, 2009 at 07:22:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know about Holder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WattleBreakfast

    from this, ala TPM

    On at least one issue, though, Obama seems to have made up his mind. Isikoff reports that Obama announced his opposition to torture prosecutions--an unsurprising admission, perhaps, but one that must have disappointed many in attendance. Previously he had said that the question of investigation and prosecuting Bush administration officials was one for Holder to answer. But with Holder sitting right beside him, there's no doubt he's feeling pressure to, as they say, look forward, not backward.

    This was a report about an off-the-record meeting of Obama and civil rights activists at the White House last week.  The inclination was to beleive that Obama has "encouraged" (my term) that Holder not pursue investigations and prosecutions.

    I hope this is wrong, and your diary is correct.

    You're wrong for thinking I'm wrong, so that makes you wrong twice.

    by ohmyheck on Tue May 26, 2009 at 07:32:39 AM PDT

  •  How can we help Obama prosecute them? (0+ / 0-)

    re: He is waiting for popular demand to be clear."

    "Then no one can claim it is partisan."
    by  Demena

    Obama seems to put importance on not appearing to be partisan.  Ok, so how can we help him achieve that

    Huge Groundswell Of Public Support
    He Wants?

    SIGN THE PETITION To Prosecute Bush's Torturers ANGRYVOTERS.ORG Over 250,000 signed - Add your Signature Today

    by 1stProtestInTheStreet on Tue May 26, 2009 at 09:09:42 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site