Reuters reported on Saturday, February 5, 2011 that former President George W. Bush, Jr. canceled his scheduled visit to Switzerland where he was going to be paid rather handsomely to serve as keynote speaker at a gala. Normally this kind of story wouldn’t capture that much attention, however there is way more to this cancellation than meets the eye.
According to former CIA Analyst, Ray McGovern, the reason for the cancellation was due to criminal complaints filed in Geneva based on two torture victims accounts detailing in 2,500 pages their personal accounts of torture at the hands of the US Government.
Here is the Center for Constitutional Right’s press release –
No Immunity for Former Presidents Under Law
February 7, 2011, Geneva and New York – Today, two torture victims were to have filed criminal complaints, with more than 2,500-pages of supporting material, in Geneva against former U.S. President George W. Bush, who was due to speak at an event there on 12 February. Swiss law requires the presence of the torturer on Swiss soil before a preliminary investigation can be opened. When Bush cancelled his trip to avoid prosecution, the human rights groups who prepared the complaints made it public and announced that the Bush Torture Indictment would be waiting wherever he travels next. The Indictment serves as the basis on which to prepare country-specific, plaintiff-specific indictments, with additional evidence and updated information. According to international law experts at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), former presidents do not enjoy special immunity under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).
“Waterboarding is torture, and Bush has admitted, without any sign of remorse, that he approved its use,” said Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at CCR and Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). “The reach of the Convention Against Torture is wide – this case is prepared and will be waiting for him wherever he travels next. Torturers – even if they are former presidents of the United States – must be held to account and prosecuted. Impunity for Bush must end.”
While the U.S. has thus far failed to comply with its obligations under the Convention Against Torture to prosecute and punish those who commit torture, all other signatories, too, are obligated to prosecute or extradite for prosecution anyone present in their territory they have a reasonable basis for believing has committed torture. If the evidence warrants, as the Bush Torture Indictment contends it does, and the U.S. fails to request the extradition of Bush and others to face charges of torture there, CAT signatories must, under law, prosecute them for torture.
In a statement this weekend, the groups who organized the complaints said, “Whatever Bush or his hosts say, we have no doubt he cancelled his trip to avoid our case. The message from civil society is clear – If you’re a torturer, be careful in your travel plans.”
The complaints that had been scheduled to be filed on Monday asked that the General Prosecutor of the Canton of Geneva investigate allegations that men were tortured as part of the Bush administration’s well-documented torture program. Bush proudly recounted in his recently published memoir that when asked in 2002 to if it was permissible to waterboard a detainee – a recognized act of torture – he replied “damn right.”
Monday, February 7, is the ninth anniversary of the day Bush decided the Geneva Conventions did not apply to ‘enemy combatants.’
According to the Bush Indictment, which was written on behalf of torture victims by CCR and ECCHR, former President Bush bears individual and command responsibility for the acts of his subordinates which he ordered, authorized, condoned or otherwise aided and abetted, as well as for the violations committed by his subordinates which he failed to prevent or punish.
“Bush is a torturer and deserves to be remembered as such,” said Gavin Sullivan, Solicitor and Counterterrorism Program Manager, ECCHR. “He bears ultimate responsibility for authorizing the torture of thousands of individuals at places like Guantánamo and secret CIA ‘black sites’ around the world. As all states are obliged to prosecute such torturers, Bush has good reason to be very worried.”
CCR, ECCHR and FIDH were joined by more than 60 human rights organizations and prominent individuals who signed on to support the call for George W. Bush’s prosecution, including former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, former UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, and Nobel Peace Prize recipients Shirin Ebadi and Pérez Esquivel. A number of the human rights organizations which signed on are facing the on-going harms of the “counterterrorism” policies advanced under the Bush administration and then adopted or employed in their own countries.. The complaint included 2500 pages of supporting materials.
Manfred Nowak, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004-2010), was to submit an expert opinion on the complaints concluding that the conduct to which both plaintiffs were subjected constitutes torture, that Switzerland had an obligation to open a preliminary investigation, and that George W. Bush enjoys no immunity.
The Bush Torture Indictment, the official “letter of denunciation” summarizing the case and other materials are available here: http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/bush-torture-indictment.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, in addition to filing the first cases representing men detained at Guantánamo, has filed universal jurisdiction cases seeking accountability for torture by Bush administration officials in Germany, France and submitted expert opinions and other documentation to ongoing cases in Spain in collaboration with ECCHR. The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org. Follow @theCCR.
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) is an independent, non-profit legal organization that enforces human rights by holding state and non-state actors to account for egregious abuses through innovative strategic litigation. For more information visit www.ecchr.eu
The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) is a non-governmental federation for 164 human rights organizations. FIDH’s core mandate is to promote respect for all the rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Its priority areas include protecting human rights defenders and fighting impunity. For more information on FIDH, see www.fidh.org.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.
Last week, The T-Room posted SPECIAL REPORT. OBAMA’S GAMBIT. HOLDING EGYPT FOR HOLDER.
Madsen stated in this Special Report –
Holder and White House chief of staff Leon Panetta had signed off on the CIA’s pre-9/11 rendition program with Egypt. During his confirmation hearings for Attorney General in May 2009, Holder was asked by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Richard Shelby (R-AL)about his role in renditions as Deputy Attorney General for Clinton. Holder admitted that extraordinary renditions occurred during the Clinton administration. However, neither Alexander nor Shelby asked Holder how many individuals were renditioned during his time as Deputy Attorney General. Holder was also not asked what torture countries received the kidnapped prisoners from the United States.
WMR has learned that George W. Bush’s chief policy adviser, Karl Rove, restrained Republican senators from delving into too many details with Holder at his confirmation hearing. Rove was aware that the Bush administration also used Egypt as a renditioned prisoner recipient country. But Rove was also concerned about secrets being revealed about his own deals with Sweden to turn terrorist suspects over to the CIA for subsequent torture in Egypt. In December 2001, Sweden arrested Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery, two Egyptian asylum seekers who lived in Sweden.
Delivered to CIA agents at Bromma airport outside of Stockholm, the two Egyptians were handcuffed and chained after having suppositories containing drugs inserted into their anuses. The two Egyptians were then flown to Cairo where they were imprisoned and tortured. The rendition plane used was a Gulfstream V, owned by Premier Executive Transport Services, a CIA front company located in Dedham, Massachusetts. The tail number is N379P. The Swedish parliament and the UN later determined that Sweden violatedSwedish and international law, respectively, by transferring the two Egyptians to the CIA and, ultimately to Egypt. Al Zery received $500,000 in compensation from the Swedish government.
Rove has known Holder since President Reagan appointed him as a judge on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1988. All of Reagan’s judicial appointments were subject to vetting by Rove and his friends in the right-wing Federalist Society.
Fast forward to today where Alex Jones, Infowars, interviewed Ray McGovern, retired CIA officer and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Alex provides in his introduction of McGovern this precious nugget of information – “upon retirement, McGovern was awarded the Intelligence Commendation Medal from Bush. He ultimately returned the award. Ray talks with Alex about George Bush’s cancellation of a visit to Switzerland amid concerns that he could be arrested for allegedly authorizing the torture of prisoners and other war crimes.”
Here’s what McGovern adds to this unfolding story –
Could this finally be happening? As a former Dem I worked hard in 2004 and 2006 to give D’s a majority, because I desperately wanted the Bush Administration impeached for all the criminal activities he and his cabal were doing across the planet in America’s name. Sadly, when the D’s did win majority of the House in 2006, the Speaker stooped even lower and muzzled her caucus from uttering any such charges or holding any hearings.
Today though, there’s renewed hope. Maybe just maybe we still live in a just world, and these thugs will at last be held accountable for deeds no human being should ever suffer under any circumstances, and most especially, at least for me, in my once proud homeland’s name.
Update from Katherine Gallagher, Center for Constitutional Rights interview by Democracy NOW!
And then we have Matt Lauer’s interview w/Bush discussing his decision to condone water boarding and other violations of the Geneva Convention –