Friday, September 11, 2009

Will U.S. Stymie Spain's Investigation of Yoo?

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Two Spanish judges are now investigating Bush-era lawyers, including UC Berkeley law school professor John Yoo, for their roles in authorizing torture, according to legal writer and journalist Scott Horton. But Horton notes in a piece on Huffington Post that US Attorney General Eric Holder could stymie those investigations if he refuses to answer legal inquires officially made by the Spanish judges. The judges have given Holder until the end of October to answer questions about the roles played by Bush administration lawyers in the torture of Spanish citizens at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The judges also are anxious to review an internal US Justice Department report on whether Yoo and his colleagues violated American legal ethical standards when they legalized traditionally unlawful interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. The report has been five years in the making, but so far Holder has refused to release it.

Holder also has refused to open his own criminal investigation into Yoo and his colleagues, and instead is concentrating on CIA agents and contractors who tortured prisoners beyond what Yoo had authorized. According to Horton, Holder's decision to limit his investigation prompted the Spanish judges to go ahead with theirs. If Holder had decided to investigate Yoo and his colleagues, then the Spanish judges likely would have dropped their probes. Unlike the United States, independent judges conduct official criminal investigations in Spain - not government prosecutors.

In addition to Yoo, the Spanish judges are investigating William Haynes II, the former Defense Department general counsel who now works for Chevron in San Ramon; federal Judge Jay Bybee, who was Yoo's boss in the Bush Justice Department; former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy; and David Addington, former Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff.

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