Interrogation Memos, Universal Jurisdiction, And Forgotten Complicity

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 18, 2009

I would be remiss if I didn’t give my thoughts on the release of the interrogation memos that occurred on Thursday. My discussion is here, and I may, of course, expand on it in the coming days. Closely connected to the issue is the question of whether “universal jurisdiction” should be used to bring Bush Administration lawyers before a Spanish court to face trial for war crimes. As I write in my latest New Ledger article, the concept is unworkable and dangerous:

The Obama Administration has released the so-called “torture memos” that were written during the Bush Administration for public examination. The memos are largely unredacted, except for what appears to be certain proper names and bits of information. In releasing the memos, the President stated that CIA officials who relied on the legal advice contained in the memos would not be prosecuted.

This latter stance is a good one on the part of the President and he deserves credit for having taken it. He should go another step forward and declare that the lawyers who wrote the memos would not be prosecuted either, and that the Obama Administration would fight efforts on the part of foreign countries to employ “universal jurisdiction” to arrest and try members of the Bush Administration. Doing so would demonstrate that the Administration favors justice over vindictiveness.

Read it all. Of course, I wish I remembered to include in the article the question of whether Congressional Democrats might also be tried before Judge Garzón.

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