George W. Bush better stay at home.
The confessed waterboarder is a marked man. If he travels abroad, other countries can—and should—nab him and try him for the crime of torture.
In his memoir and in last week’s NBC interview, Bush acknowledged ordering waterboarding.
He says the lawyers told him it wasn’t torture. But he got bad legal advice.
Attorney General Eric Holder has recognized waterboarding as torture. So has the State Department, as the great civil liberties Bill Quigley points out at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Given that, Holder has an obligation to press charges against the former president. But neither Holder nor his boss has the guts to do that. And what a shame that is!
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Prosecutors in other countries, however, may not be so spineless. “Under international law, anyone involved in torture must be brought to justice, and that does not exclude former President George W. Bush,” said Claudio Cordone, senior director of Amnesty International.
“If his admission is substantiated, the USA has the obligation to prosecute him,” Cordone said, adding ominously: “In the absence of a U.S. investigation, other states must step in and carry out such an investigation themselves.”
Under the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, countries that have ratified the accords have a binding obligation to exercise jurisdiction over those accused of grave breaches. (See “Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity,”)
So if I were Bush (and what a horrifying thought that is!), I’d cancel those plans to visit Spain or Germany or any other country where some prosecutor, somewhere, respects international law.