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Bush Six to Be Indicted Today (In Spain)

Spanish prosecutors have decided to go ahead with a criminal investigation of the six senior lawyers — including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — who allegedly crafted the legal justification for the Bush administration’s torture and abuse of detainees in its “war on terror,” Scott Horton reports today in The Daily Beast.

Horton’s sources tell him that the decision is to be announced today in a Spanish criminal court. The prosecutors reportedly will also ask Judge Baltasar Garzón, who has gained an international reputation for prosecuting other high-profile torturers, to step aside. Apparently, they think it’s awkward that he’s also presiding over the terrorism case of five Spaniards who were held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay — and might have been tortured there. Others want Garzon to step aside apparently out of concern that some in the U.S. media, which have derisively covered some of the judge’s previous prosecutions of foreign officials — such as former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet — might view his focus on prosecuting torture as “a sort of personal frolic of Judge Garzón,” Horton reports.

While the indictments expected today are sure to put a crimp in any vacation plans to Spain for the six former Justice Department lawyers — in addition to Gonzales, they include former Office of Legal Counsel lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee, as well as Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, David Addington — more importantly, it’s sure to ratchet up the pressure on U.S. lawmakers to respond to the growing body of evidence that senior American officials broke the law.

Yesterday, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen came out in support of a truth commission along the lines of what Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has suggested. But as I’ve noted before, Leahy himself has expressed doubts that that’s ever going to happen, since he can’t seem to win any Republican support for it. (By the way, where’s Sen. John McCain on this?)

While Congress is hashing this all out and mulling over the latest foreign justice system courageous enough to stand up for international law — after all, the United States is under international treaty obligations to prosecute torture — Leahy and his Senate Judiciary Committee could, at the very least, convene an investigation of precisely what role the Bush Six lawyers and the rest of the Justice Department played in developing an illegal interrogation and torture policy. That would be the perfect complement to the ongoing investigation of the CIA’s role by the Senate Select Committee on intelligence, and to the Senate Armed Services Committee’s probe into the Pentagon’s role — which destroyed the “bad apple” myth and revealed that the orders came from the top.

I’ve been told there’s some support for the truth commission idea among Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, but Leahy, the committee chair, is still not aggressively pushing it.

We’ll be watching to see if the Spanish prosecution — or the additional OLC “torture memos” that may (finally) be released later this week in a FOIA case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union — changes that dynamic.

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