David Kirkpatrick

March 28, 2009

The wheels of justice creak …

… a little farther forward.

That line that Bush 43 officials might not want to travel overseas? It’s becoming reality. At some point the highest levels of U.S. jurisprudence will have to look into the fact of Bush administration war crimes.

From the link:

Spain’s national newspapers, El País and Público reported that the Spanish national security court has opened a criminal probe focusing on Bush Administration lawyers who pioneered the descent into torture at the prison in Guantánamo. The criminal complaint can be examined here. Públicoidentifies the targets as University of California law professor John Yoo, former Department of Defense general counsel William J. Haynes II (now a lawyer working for Chevron), former vice presidential chief-of-staff David Addington, former attorney general and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, now a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith.

The case was opened in the Spanish national security court, the Audencia Nacional. In July 2006, the Spanish Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a former Spanish citizen who had been held in Guantánamo, labeling the regime established in Guantánamo a “legal black hole.” The court forbade Spanish cooperation with U.S. authorities in connection with the Guantánamo facility. The current criminal case evolved out of an investigation into allegations, sustained by Spain’s Supreme Court, that the Spanish citizen had been tortured in Guantánamo.

Andrew Sullivan makes a point on exactly what this means:

More ominous for Yoo and Addington et al is that the judge involved is the one who nailed Pinochet. That dude doesn’t mess around. Spain’s action means these war criminals are vulnerable in 24 European countries for arrest and prosecution for enabling torture. It’s a start.

December 6, 2008

Legal heat about to hit Bush 43 administration?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:56 pm

Looks very possible right now. The keystone figure is likely to be Alberto Gonzales and his actions as Attorney General. He’s facing some real civil and probable criminal charges — charges that Bush may be hard pressed to pardon away because of their explicitly political nature.

From the TPM Muckraker link:

It would appear that the most obvious reason for Terwilliger to withdraw from the civil suit is to be able to devote additional time to Dannehy’s more serious investigation into criminal wrong-doing.

That’s certainly the opinion of the veteran Washington lawyer bringing the civil suit in question. Dan Metcalfe, a former DOJ official and now the executive director of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University Washington College of Law, who brought the suit on behalf of the law students, told TPMmuckraker*: “I think it’s quite fair to say that the most plausible explanation for what happened is that [Terwilliger] learned he was going to be otherwise occupied on Gonzales’ behalf.”

That would jibe with the newsearlier this week that Dannehy has issued subpoenas through a grand jury — it would be common practice at this point for targets in the investigation to receive letters from the prosecutor informing them that they are under investigation. And of course it would be in sync with our report that Dannehy appears to have contacted Gonzales or his lawyer in connection with the probe.

Also from the link:

Late Update: There’s additional evidence that Terwilliger is feeling jumpy about the twin cases, and is anxious to draw a distinction between the civil suit and the possible criminal investigation. Within hours of a story being posted by the legal publication AM Law Dailyincorrectly stating that DOJ was paying Gonzales’ lawyers for their work on the Dannehy investigation, Terwilliger had posted the following comment on the site:

Please correct your story as it is plainly in error to report that the Justice Department is paying Judge Gonzales’ legal fees in connection with the Inspector General inquiries. Those fees are a private responsibility. DOJ is reportedly paying fees at governement [sic] rates to another law firm in connection with a civil law suit in which Judge Gonzales has been sued in his individual capacity in connection with events in which he was involved, if at all, in his offical [sic] capacity.

Go below the fold for even creepier facts about Gonzo …


July 28, 2008

DOJ under Gonzales violated the law

An internal Department of Justice report prepared by the department’s inspector general and its internal ethics office found the Gonzales DOJ broke the law by politicizing the department:

In her position as White House liaison for the Justice Department, Ms. Goodling was involved in hiring lawyers for both political appointments and non-political, career positions. Regardless of the type of position, the report said, Ms. Goodling would run through the same batch of questions, asking candidates about their political philosophies, why they wanted to serve President Bush, and who, aside from Mr. Bush, they admired as public servants. Sometimes, Ms. Goodling would ask: “Why are you a Republican?”

Such questioning was allowed for candidates to political appointments, but was clearly banned under both civil service law and the Justice Department’s own internal policies, the inspector general said. Ms. Goodling’s questioning also generated complaints from one senior official who believed it was improper, long before the issue became a public controversy following the firings of nine United States attorneys. The inspector general concluded that Ms. Goodling knew that questioning applicants to career positions about their political beliefs was improper.

Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, thinks this politization of the DOJ imperiled US citizens:

Responding to today’s report from the DOJ Inspector General, Leahy said in a statement:

“The report reveals decisions to reject qualified, experienced applicants to work on counterterrorism issues in favor of a less experienced attorney on the basis of political ideology. Rather than strengthening our national security, the Department of Justice appears to have bent to the political will of the administration. Further, the report reveals that the ‘principal source’ for politically vetted candidates considered for important positions as immigration judges was the White House- a clear indication of the untoward political influence of the Bush administration on traditionally non-political appointments.”

For more in-depth coverage of the entire scandal, head over to TPMMucker where they’ve been on this case for a long, long time providing a wealth of information the Bush 43 administration would rather had never seen the light of day.