U.S. Groups Encourage Spain to Prosecute Bush Officials “Please Do What the U.S. Won’t. Prosecute Torturers.”

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Aimee Allison 510.343.4019
David Swanson 202.329.7847

U.S. Groups Encourage Spain to Prosecute Bush Officials “Please Do What the U.S. Won’t. Prosecute Torturers.”

NATIONWIDE - Dozens of U.S. human rights groups will present an open letter to the Spanish public to consulates and Madrid officials on Valentine’s Day. They will encourage support of Spanish courts in prosecuting U.S. officials who authorized torture.

What: By appointment will deliver the letter and flowers to the consul general or ambassador on Valentine’s Day, a celebrated holiday in Spain.

When: Monday February 14. Valentine’s Day. Meetings scheduled throughout day. Details at http://rootsaction.org

Where: Spanish Consulates in New York, Boston, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami.
Spanish Embassy, 2375 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington D.C.
LOCATION TBD, Madrid

March 1 is the deadline set by Spanish Judge Eloy Velasco to determine if he will prosecute the “Bush Six” – the group of Bush-era government lawyers including former White House Counsel and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, for violating international law by creating a “legal” justification for torture. It was a court in Spain that indicted Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

The Obama administration declared last year that it would not pursue prosecutions, ignoring the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Recent documents released by WikiLeaks demonstrate that the Obama government has been heavily pressuring Spanish authorities not to pursue prosecution.

“The Obama administration has been pressuring Spain not to proceed, and thus let the Bush administration actions stand. But justice must be served.” –Coleen Rowley, former FBI agent.

On Valentine’s Day, representatives from groups will deliver copies of an open letter to the Spanish public, to the embassy of Spain in Washington, and the Spanish consulates in seven US cities, to thank and encourage Spain to prosecute the cases. They will fundraise to place billboards and ads in Spain.

This action comes just days after former President George W. Bush cancelled plans to travel to Switzerland after he learned the Center for Constitutional Rights and Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights sought indictment of him there for torture. George Bush has openly admitted authorizing waterboarding on national television, explaining that “the lawyer” said it was legal.

More details on http://www.rootsaction.org
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Partner organizations behind this effort include CodePink Women for Peace, High Road for Human Rights, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, National Accountability Action Network, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Pax Christi USA, Progressive Democrats of America, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Robert Jackson Steering Committee, RootsAction.org, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Tackling Torture at the Top Committee of Women Against Military Madness, Veterans for Peace, Voters for Peace, War Criminals Watch, WarIsACrime.org, WeThePeopleNow.org, and World Can't Wait.

Additional signers include: Amnesty International USA, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Council for the National Interest, Democrats.com, Fellowship on Reconciliation, United for Peace and Justice, Velvet Revolution, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, War Resisters League, and Witness Against Torture.

To the people of Spain

From the people of the United States of America

We are writing to thank you and to ask for your support as your courts consider cases to bring American officials to justice for the crime of torture. A Spanish judge, acting under international law, will soon decide whether to investigate US officials' roles in authorizing torture. We hope you agree that such cases must go forward, despite pressure from the Obama administration to drop them.

The organizations signing this letter represent hundreds of thousands in the American public who believe the US government must be held to the same rule of law as other countries. We are profoundly disappointed that our own government refuses to prosecute former officials, despite open admissions and government documents showing that they approved torture.

It will take a public show of support for the case to withstand pressures from Washington. WikiLeaks cables show the extremes to which U.S. officials have gone to thwart any attempt by Spain or other countries to uphold justice. We applaud the courage shown by Spanish officials who insist on giving priority to the rule of law.

Despite earlier assertions by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that waterboarding is torture, former President George W. Bush publicly stated three times last year that he authorized waterboarding and added proudly that he would do it again. In a TV interview aired on November 8, Bush said he considered waterboarding legal "because the lawyer said it was legal." Waterboarding and other forms of torture were banned by the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by the United States in 1994.

If international law is to serve any useful purpose, other countries must condemn violations "by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment," in the words of the chief prosecutor at Nuremberg.

We sincerely hope that the citizens of Spain and its judiciary will dispel the notion that any country is above the law.

Signed,
Code Pink Women for Peace, High Road for Human Rights, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, National Accountability Action Network, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Pax Christi USA, Progressive Democrats of America, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Robert Jackson Steering Committee, RootsAction.org, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, Tackling Torture at the Top Committee of Women Against Military Madness, Veterans for Peace, Voters for Peace, War Criminals Watch, WarIsACrime.org, WeThePeopleNow.org, and World Can't Wait.

Along with:
Amnesty International USA, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Council for the National Interest, Democrats.com, Fellowship on Reconciliation, United for Peace and Justice, Velvet Revolution, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, War Resisters League, and Witness Against Torture.

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Action for a Progressive Future (the organization that runs RootsAction) is a nonprofit, progressive, public policy advocacy group that will engage citizens in the democratic process and help make sure legislators hear their voices.

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