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Americans Spent Valentine's Day Thanking Spain for Prosecuting Bush Lawyers


By davidswanson - Posted on 14 February 2011

By David Swanson, WarIsACrime.org

On Valentine's Day 2011, yet another U.S. judge agreed with yet another claim that President Obama has the right to protect members of the Bush-Cheney administration from prosecution for torture.

But a coalition of human rights groups spent the day visiting the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C., and Spanish colsulates around the United States to share some love for a country that is working to prosecute former top Bush officials for torture.

The coalition thanking and encouraging Spain to enforce laws when the United States will not has gathered 8,400 signatures on a letter, a love letter of sorts, to the people of Spain, and has raised $6,000 so far for purchasing newspaper and street advertisements in Madrid.

The delegations that presented the letter on Monday to Spain's representatives in the United States reported that their visits seemed to be accepted in the spirit of friendship and gratitude in which they were made.  Visits to Spanish diplomatic offices were made in Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Dallas, and Phoenix.

Spanish media outlets, and Spanish-language U.S. outlets, are reporting widely on this effort, while the rest of the U.S. media, and even the blogosphere, could hardly be less interested.

At the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C., Ray McGovern and Ann Wright led a meeting with a Spanish diplomat, thanking and encouraging Spain to prosecute former Bush officials for torture on behalf of a large coalition. Ron Fisher reports that they gave the embassy personnel Valentine’s Day balloons and cookies.

In New York City, a delegation of a dozen New Yorkers gathered outside the Consulate General of Spain. They went upstairs together to the Consulate and delivered the letter, roses and a box of chocolate. They were interviewed by Univision and EFE.

Terry Rockefeller of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows made this additional remark to me on the importance of what Spain is doing:

"I would add that in my communications with Iraqis who are working on the Justice for Fallujah campaign, these developments in Spain have been a tremendous inspiration to belief that international law can be a force for positive and nonviolent change."

In Chicago the delegation to the Spanish consulate included two Veterans for Peace, representatives from Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Catholic peace and justice activists, and representatives of Amnesty International and World Can't Wait.

Jay Becker reports:

"The vice consul at the Spanish consulate in Chicago met with us. We presented the 120-page petition with the picture of the billboard in Spanish on the cover and the letter to the Spanish people, signed by all of us.

"Ray Parrish from Vets for Peace read a short letter pointing out that Bradley Manning is being held in conditions amounting to torture (with no charges or conviction), while Wikileaks cables reveal real crimes committed by our government.

"Michael from PsySR conveyed the seriousness of the material CCR has compiled and urged the Spanish judiciary to take the lead the way they had in pursuing Pinochet of Chile. I read from the letter and underscored that President Obama and Eric Holder had acknowledged that torture has been committed by the US government but failed to prosecute and in fact pressured other countries not to pursue charges, which is a crime under international law.

"The vice consul accepted the petition and letter, and flowers and chocolates presented by Chris and Mary Fogarty, Irish-American anti-war and justice activists. He assured us that he will convey them all to the Consul General as soon as he returned to the consulate, and we urged him to convey our appeal to the people of Spain. The vice consul said we were brave to take this action, but we replied that we are asking Spain to be brave and uphold international law and justice in the face of pressure from this government.

"We all felt afterward that we had conveyed the seriousness of the action that needs to be taken now, and this was another important step in developing the political movement that can make these long-overdue prosecutions a reality. I hope we'll have photos shortly, and perhaps more impressions from other participants."

Susan Harman reports from San Francisco:

"Just home from ours in San Francisco. Eleven of us, in the rain. They said they'd heard about the rest of our actions around the country. They weren't allowed to accept the beautiful white roses (peace), and wouldn't let us take pictures of them or inside the lobby, so we made do out in front. Notice (in photo at top of article) Tom, an 80-year-old Korean War vet, and Juanita (with dog), who lives across the street from John Yoo in the Berkeley hills. Felt good to be able to say something nice, for a change!"

Leslie Harris reports from Dallas:

"We visited the Spanish Consulate in Dallas today. We were greeted by Jennifer Zimmer, assistant to the Spanish Consul, Janet Kafka, who welcomed us into the consulate. Holding a banner that read, "Gracias, Espana," we explained that we were there to express our heartfelt thanks for Spain's efforts in upholding the rule of law.

"We took turns reading the letter of thanks, support, and encouragement to the citizens of Spain for their interest in investigating U.S. officials' roles in authorizing torture. We expressed our sincere hopes that they and their judiciary will dispel the notion that any country is above the law.

"We wished everyone a Happy Valentines Day and presented a bouquet of flowers, some heart-shaped balloons, and a hefty stack of papers - a photocopy of a billboard planned to go up in Spain which read, "Por favor, hagan lo que los EEUU no hara - procesar a los torturadores," and a petition, signed by over 8,400 people, asking Spain to do what the U.S. won't: prosecute torture! Ms. Zimmer smiled, thanked us, and agreed to pass on our message.

"Even as we remembered those whose hearts and bodies have been broken by torture and violence, our hearts were warmed at the thought of people around the world working together to uphold justice and restore the rule of law. New friends. Smiles all around. The perfect day for a heartfelt expression of love for humanity."

Sandy Davies of PDA-Miami and the author of "Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq," reports from Miami:

"We delivered the letter, plus chocolates, roses and a vase of flowers from Chip's garden (including "Bleeding Hearts") to Cristina Barrios Almazor, the Spanish Consul General in Miami. I felt that the message was received very much in the spirit in which it was delivered, as a heartfelt thank you from the people of the United States to the people of Spain on an important matter.

"I explained to the Consul General that we represented hundreds of thousands of Americans who belong to the 29 organizations listed as signatories on the letter. I told her that we are embarrassed and ashamed by our country's failure to prosecute these crimes, and that we are grateful that, of all the countries in the world that could prosecute these crimes under universal jurisdiction, Spain has stood up to actually pursue these cases.

"Our delegation included Jim Goodenow, Diane and Ellie (South Florida Impeachment Coalition), Catherine De Leon (PDA), Chip Sullivan (PDA & VFP), Orlando Collado (President, VFP Chapter 032 - not in picture) and me.

In all the work we do, it's rare that I feel I've been part of something as important as this, that what we did today may make a real difference to the prospects for accountability and justice, and thus to deterring such crimes in the future. Peace!"

Sharon Tipton reports from Los Angeles:

"A representative from the Spanish Consulate wrote to me that this issue was not under their jurisdiction but that they would forward the letters to the Spanish Embassy. This did not stop our expression of love for the Spanish people and their wonderful pursuit of international justice! A number of grateful citizens, including Karen and Sharon from the Orange County Peace Coalition; Michael Haas, 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, and author of "George W. Bush, War Criminal?", and John, Jennifer, and Adela from World Can't Wait visited the Consulate this morning bearing gifts!

"We told the Consulate representative who greeted us behind a pane of glass why we were there and that we had a gift for the Spanish people! She graciously came out to us and accepted our flowers and letters, but seemed a little uncomfortable being in our video and photos!

"Mike Haas spoke to us afterward and shared a great analysis of the state of U.S. torture accountability (which I have on video). In part he shared that the US won't prosecute torture - but that when one of these cases against a prominent American wins, it will finally get the attention of the American people. So, Spain's judges and people give us Hope! Gracias Gente de Espana!"


 

Photo from Los Angeles:

Spanish media outlets, and Spanish-language U.S. outlets, are reporting widely on this effort, while the rest of the U.S. media, and even the blogosphere, could hardly be less interested.

We should be seeing more people actively supporting such efforts, to obtain indictments and prosecutions. We have had a lot of the anti-torture efforts and outrage over the years, while getting comparably little for the crimes of wars of aggression, and now we're seeing the anti-torture activists vanish, apparently.

Perhaps some bloggers who are silent figure that since the principal crimes are being mostly ignored, then there's little point in focusing on the incidental crimes, which include torture and extraordinary renditioning. I'm for indicting all of the people guilty for all of these crimes, but indictments and prosecutions for the crimes of torture will hardly help to stop the wars, which has always urgently needed to be done. Indictments for the crimes of these wars of aggression would also make it relatively easy to subsequently obtain indictments against people who aren't responsible for the wars of aggression, but who are nevertheless guilty for serious incidental crimes, including torture and extraordinary renditioning.

But more emphasis seems to have been placed by American activists on the crimes of torture than on the wars, and this continues to stun me.

Indict for torture and if successful, then great. But it ain't gonna stop the wars!

Why aim for less? The reason has never been explained.

That's not why corporate US media is ignoring this new effort to try to get Washington's torture criminals indicted, but maybe some bloggers aren't impressed with actions against incidental crimes while there are hardly any actions about the principal crimes. It does disenchant me. Economically, I believe in the bottom-up approach. When it comes to wars against peace, I think the logical or strategy should be to nail the criminals responsible for the principal crimes, first.

But maybe many of the bloggers were very pro-Obama and now that they see how badly they erred, they cowar back in silence.

I certainly don't think there's anything wrong with what this activist group did. They are acting on the basis that torture is criminal and the guilty parties are known persons, that is, identified. And if these criminals become indicted and prosecuted because of this group's effort, then GREAT. I'm just always stunned by the greater focus on torture as opposed to the supreme international crime of war of aggression. Millions of people have been cold-bloodedly murdered because of these wars. Countries destroyed. Both the torture and extraordinary renditioning, as well as wars against peace are horrendous crimes, but the latter are worse.

Here's a way to please everyone, well, besides Washington et al. Go for indictments and prosecutions of the principal war criminals as well as their associates guilty in or for the incidental crimes. Do both.

Ask the Spanish court to indict the people guilty for these wars. They are the leading criminals in all of this; the leading political criminals, that is. There are also the leading military criminals, the commanders who know law and refuse to abide by and defend it. And there are the corporate masters of Washington.

Why be bashful by asking for less than what's needed?

The Clinton administration secretly used extraordinary renditioning to countries with governments known worldwide for brutal torture, too, btw.

Re. the U.S. judge:

The "U.S. judge agreed with yet another claim that President Obama has the right to protect members of the Bush-Cheney administration from prosecution for torture", and the judge is definitely wrong. Obama doesn't have this right. The U.S. doesn't have this right. No one has this right. BUT, Washington has the power to protect its criminals and to harbor foreign criminals, like terrorist Louis Posada Carilles, f.e. Having the power to protect doesn't make it right unless it's protecting innocent people and human rights. Criminals who are imprisoned have human rights, legally and ethically, so I wouldn't discount this.

It would be great for the US to apply the relevant laws, but if the US did this with the the law about torture being criminal, then it would be greatest if the US also applied the laws about wars of aggression.

But neither is going to happen and it's pretty obvious that many judges of the federal level in the U.S., as well as many at state and municipal levels, are CORRUPT. Their court and other "legal" judgments or rulings are often criminal and these criminal judges get away with this with most of the population staying totally silent about it.

People get the government they elect or certainly believe that they elect. It's really Corporate America that decides, but it does this in a way that many Americans fall for; leaving the voters to believe that they really decide who wins elections. What a farcical belief. What's not farcical about it is that the rich, ruling elites decide who can and can't be President and most voters go along with this "nice" and blindly; such loyal creatures, they are, as loyal as dumb animals when conditioned to obey their masters or trainers. Hoorah.

Hi Mike. Maybe one reason that a focus on torture makes some sense is that there is no appetite among the American public for holding governmental officials accountable. Torture may just be the issue that could overcome that reluctance. That is, if we can create in the public a mindset of accountability, then maybe we will be able to expand that idea to wars of aggression. It's also the case that the torture issue ought to resonate across a much wider political spectrum: those who support an expansive use of the U.S. military, as well as those who oppose it; law and order advocates; those who believe in limited government; military leaders; etc.

Illegal Wars - fir sure we had the perfect tools and parties, Impeachment was at our finger tips, with a Democrat House and Senate. But Nancy Pelosi is guilty of Sedition by taking the Constitution out of the Peoples hands.
We tried very hard to prosecute the Illegal Invasions and Illegal Occupations - but at this point it would be like stopping a Tidal Wave, our numbers are thin and tackling Torture is both Cohesive and Comprehensive in its nature. Our numbers can handle this pinnacle of depravity and the world is in-tune with our endeavors except Zionist Israel.
Of Course we'd all jump at the opportunity to End All Wars! this is what Capitalism does best... Imperial Conquest - soooo look at the term war and replace it with Imperial Conquest - pretty hard to stand up to that or make a dent with our over worked and stressed cadre/numbers.
How hard would it be to convince the majority of US Citizens to Not Pay their Taxes until the Wars were ended? We'd gladly champion this action, certainly it's the purse strings that make or break the action however things aren't what you'd call favorable in this Neo-Fascist Capitalist cabal.
I once knew a guy who was a surfer, with lots of ego ... and he'd sit on the 'outside' waiting and waiting for the Biggest Wave... he didn't want to waste his energy on those little 5 footers he said... in his waiting he got rusty and i dont' think he ever caught the 'Big One'.
Although prosecuting for Illegal Invasions seems like the Big Priority - We have found that the frontal assault on the Capitalist Military is invincible at the moment We can make our case against the architects of the Illegal Invasions thru prosecuting for Torture.
And many many thanks to all who managed to consult with their Spanish Embassies - Thank you for the Thank you's

that it's better to indict and prosecute the criminals guilty of the crimes of torture, and these criminals number far more than four. They also begin with the White House administration; certainly Donald Rumsfeld anyway. They also include Bush, since he was C-in-C.

But the US won't respect any ruling against these criminals made by Spain or, for extraordinary renditioning, which we know has always lead to torture, by Italy or Germany.

So Spain could just as easily perform similar indictments and prosecutions for the crimes of wars of aggression, since the US isn't going to respect any foreign court rulings against US war and torture criminals anyway.

I don't see a way to really win with respect to either crime. All that will happen is that the American criminals indicted and convicted in absentia in Spain or elsewhere may choose to never travel to these countries. That's no big deal. Many countries will still receive these criminals; many governments will, anyway. And the US will continue to act unilaterally as imperialist superpower, if it is not supported by NATO and others, which is either never or else rarely the case.

The work of this activist group is good. It's just that it won't lead to any hard convictions, that is, prison sentences being served by the criminals of Washington.

And I didn't see any mention of Spain prosecuting these criminals, except in the title used for this page.

But a coalition of human rights groups spent the day visiting the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C., and Spanish colsulates around the United States to share some love for a country that is working to prosecute former top Bush officials for torture.

That says that Spain "is working to prosecute", not that Spain is prosecuting; while the title of the page is, "Americans Spent Valentine's Day Thanking Spain for Prosecuting Bush Lawyers", which says that Spain is prosecuting, rather than only "working to prosecute". The latter tells me that Spain hasn't begun the prosecutions, only being at or in some preparatory stage that is or might not be guaranteed to result with actual prosecutions; but the title of the page says that Spain has reached the prosecution stage.

So which is it? Did Spain [guarantee] that it'll conduct these prosecutions, if it hasn't already begun them?

Hi Mike,
There's not a person on any Accountability and Justice team across America that would not Love to see Cheney and the War Mongering Hordes FROG marched to the Haig and then to Prison - On foreign soil!!! i want them stripped of US Citizenship - i hope they hang (Pelosi first and higher with Bush and Cheney watching).
Spain was instrumental in bringing Pinochet to justice. The Spaniards have a track record that speaks for itself. We also know that the current US Junta/ObamanationINC is pressuring Spain NOT to indict anyone for war crimes. (this should speak volumes to the Social Justice adherents in the USA) i wish there were more of you at least questioning the direction and feasibility of our endeavors to bring these scumbags to trial for war crimes.
The direction of many groups to press for the end to these Illegal Invasions and Occupations (starting with Hawaii in the late 1800's, the Philippines, Central and South America, Mexico on and on Iraq, Afghanistan etc) have allowed us to continue the work of arresting and bringing to light the heinous crimes committed in the name of America. There are other orgs that are more situated to End the Invasions and Occupations: i believe World Can't Wait; Backbone; Veterans for Peace - the IVAW and i'm sure a others.

i do hope you can get situated with any of the anti-war Organizations - and that you'll stay tuned to this website for more on the Anti-Torture orgs see the PDA End War committee and just Google Anti War... it's important to understand where you want to establish your efforts and follow through.
Personally i swing in all directions:) There's so much to combat like Privatization of Education making Economic Conscription much much bigger than it is... It's all Relative to be sure. Fighting to Free Brad Manning is just as sacred as ending the occupation of Palestine, or ending these gd wars.

Will in Billings, MT

Keep coming Back we are Powerless without solidarity.

Hi Mike. Maybe one reason that a focus on torture makes some sense is that there is no appetite among the American public for holding governmental officials accountable. Torture may just be the issue that could overcome that reluctance. That is, if we can create in the public a mindset of accountability, then maybe we will be able to expand that idea to wars of aggression. It's also the case that the torture issue ought to resonate across a much wider political spectrum: those who support an expansive use of the U.S. military, as well as those who oppose it; law and order advocates; those who believe in limited government; military leaders; etc.

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