Spanish judge opens case against US officials

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Indy Politics

Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who ordered the arrest of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, is preparing a criminal investigation of six former Bush officials over the alleged torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.

It would focus on whether they violated international law by providing a legalistic justification for torture. Spain claims jurisdiction because five Spanish citizens or residents allege they were tortured there.

The ex-Bush officials are Gonzales; former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith; former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington; Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay S. Bybee; and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes.

"The charges as related to me make no sense," Feith said Saturday. "They criticize me for promoting a controverial position that I never advocated."

Yoo declined to comment. A message left at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco where Bybee is now a judge was not immediately returned. A message left at Chevron Corp. in San Ramon, Calif., where Haynes reportedly works as an attorney was not immediately returned.

Spanish law allows courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes under a doctrine of universal justice, though the government has recently said it hopes to limit the scope of the legal process.

Garzon became famous for bringing charges against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, and he and other Spanish judges have agreed to investigate alleged abuses everywhere from Tibet to Argentina's "dirty war," El Salvador and Rwanda.

Still, the country's record in prosecuting such cases has been spotty at best, with only one suspect extradited to Spain so far.

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