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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Does A Spanish Jail Cell Await Obama?

Barack Obama has given the go ahead for the "targeted killing" of al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki, who happens to be a U.S. citizen.

I don't have a problem with it. The fight with al-Qaeda is war. Al-Awlaki is trying to kill Americans, and if the only way to stop him is by killing him, so be it.

The question is, whether the Spanish judges who have sought the arrest and prosecution of Israeli military and political officers under a theory of "universal jurisdiction" also will come after Obama.

After all, the Spanish judges tried, unsuccessfully, to go after Bush administration officials at the urging of American leftist groups.

I called attention to the possibility of prosecution of Obama over drone attacks long ago. With the clamor on the left that Obama's current order is illegal, the issue is front and center.

Will American leftists clamor for a prosecution of Obama in Spain if there is no prosecution in the U.S.? And will the Spanish judges be as bold in going after Obama administration officials?

If they do, then I'll be on Obama's side. But I'll never have to get there, because Obama isn't Israeli and he isn't Bush.

Update: A compendium of articles and news reports on "universal jurisdiction" in numerous countries is here. A reader points out that Spain narrowed its law last year (in November) after abuse, although it is not clear whether the changes really would be effective at curbing politicized prosecutions. The issue would be whether there were a sufficient connection to Spain and the perpetrator were found on Spanish soil, as expained in this article (at p. 9). If I were a former Bush administration official involved in the interrogation cases, I would not travel to Spain regardless of the narrowing of the law.

In an ultimate irony, the most aggressive of Spanish judges, Baltasar Garzón, now is on trial in Spain for abusing power during "universal jurisdiction" investigations.

The problem exists elsewhere. A British judge issued a warrant for the arrest of former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and Israel officials are cautious as to which countries they travel.

Related Posts:
Drone Strikes Put Obama Admin Officials At Risk
The American Left Outsources The Spanish Inquisition
Did Obama Just Commit A War Crime?

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  1. They can't do it any more. The article 23 of the Organic Law that regulates the action of Spanish judges was modified last year. Now the article actually in force says regarding this issue:

    Sin perjuicio de lo que pudieran disponer los tratados y convenios internacionales suscritos por España, para que puedan conocer los Tribunales españoles de los anteriores delitos deberá quedar acreditado que sus presuntos responsables se encuentran en España o que existen víctimas de nacionalidad española, o constatarse algún vínculo de conexión relevante con España y, en todo caso, que en otro país competente o en el seno de un Tribunal internacional no se ha iniciado procedimiento que suponga una investigación y una persecución efectiva, en su caso, de tales hechos punibles.

    So, it only lets Spanish judges know about crimes when the alleged criminals are Spanish nationals or have any other connection with Spain (for example, damaging Spanish interests in foreign countries). It also excludes the cases in which other State is competent to know about them or when an international institution has began an investigation on those crimes.

    Spanish judges have so much to do inside to lose time finding crimes on foreign countries.


  2. "They can't do it anymore".

    I question the timing.

  3. They can't do it no matter what their law says. If you arrest a US Citizen, especially a public official, elected or otherwise, and refuse to return them on the grounds that actions they have taken in lawful (as in American Law) defense of American interests are illegal under Spanish law, it's an act of war. The same is true for Israel or any other country. Just because someone has entered your sphere of influence, doesn't mean you can prosecute them under your laws without permission from their homeland. However, in Obama's case, 60% of American's would probably say: "Sure. Keep him!"

  4. They can't do it anymore especially because the judge (and it was only one) screwed up by trying to investigate stuff that happened during the Spanish Civil War. He just got removed from his judgeship and is being investigated himself.

    Franco may be dead, but his ghost still haunts the place.

  5. Oh please. Everyone knows "international justice" only applies to Republicans. Socialists are free to kill anyone they want.

    Same goes for "environmental catastrophes" like global warming. They disappear until the next Republican is president, at which time they regain status as an "urgent crisis".

  6. They can't do it because unlike the Israelis, we have B-52s we can use to address kidnappers of our citizenry.

    another Eric

  7. has anyone noticed the lack of CODEPINK protests at the White House and Congressional Committees?

    The Anti-war people were not "Anti-War" just "Anti-Bush" but those Anti-war people sure love Dictators.

    At this point, anyone calling themselves "Anti-war," should, because of their hypocrisy, quietly STFU and move to Iran.



  8. Like we should be so lucky that someone would take that sick excuse off our hands.

  9. Does anyone see the incongruity of the administrations anti-torture policy and its targeted-killing policy?

  10. Bill,

    If Spain attempted to pursue Obama, the American left would go bonkers.

    I mean, don't those damn Spaniards know that its not the rule of law that's the driving principle behind international justice, but rather, ensuring that those damn conservative ideas don't gain traction?

    And the left wonders why we conservatives oppose the idea of an International Criminal Court?

  11. I would oppose the idea of an "international criminal court" just as much if the idea came from the right. I tend to oppose anything with the word international in it or anyhow involved or implied in it, such as multi-lateral free-trade agreements, which by their natures would have to be run and regulated by unelected and unaccountable international bodies.