I always love hearing a good story about how seemingly crazy, wishful thinking slowly but surely becomes certifiable fact. Case in point is British lawyer Phillippe Sands who wrote a book claiming that several of the top men in the Bush Administration would be tried in court for their crimes against humanity. The subjects of the book responded harshly and most of the traditional media in the U.S. ignored it. Now however, Sands' prediction is starting to stand on more solid ground and the story caught the eye of the New Yorker this week:
Last week, Sands’s accusations suddenly did not seem so outlandish. A Spanish court took the first steps toward starting a criminal investigation of the same six former Bush Administration officials he had named, weighing charges that they had enabled and abetted torture by justifying the abuse of terrorism suspects. Among those whom the court singled out was Feith, the former Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy, along with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer; and David Addington, the chief of staff and the principal legal adviser to Vice-President Dick Cheney.
In Washington the other night, over a cup of camomile tea, Sands described the behind-the-scenes role he played in spurring the Spanish court to action. He paced his hotel room, seeming by turns proud and stunned at what he had done. “This is the end of these people’s professional reputations!” he said. “This is no joke. We’re talking about the serious potential deprivation of liberty.”
A deprivation of liberty is exactly what those men need, and you can add Dick Cheney and George Bush to that list as well. Yet one has to wonder, how did this Brit get so involved in the illegalities of American politicos?
The current torture case began in the spring of 2004, when photographs of abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib surfaced. Sands said that he read the protestations of innocence from Bush Administration officials, who blamed a few “bad apples” for the incidents, with the eye of a barrister. He recalled, “I could spot right away that they were speaking as advocates of a cause. So I decided to find out what really happened.” While keeping up his busy law practice, he travelled to America to interview the key players in what he described as “a writing project I am engaged in on international law and the war on terror.” Many Bush officials, including Feith and William J. Haynes II, the former Pentagon general counsel, who was also named in the Spanish lawsuit, agreed to meet with Sands, perhaps expecting a friendly chat. “I spent two years trekking around the country, finding out that they were manifestly untruthful,” Sands said. “I’ve got a particular bugbear about lawyers,” he added. “If not for lawyers, none of these abuses would have ever occurred.”
Like Sands, I've got a serious bugbear with all of the White House goons that were involved with the condoning of torture. There were some serious crimes committed under Bush's watch and hardly anyone tried to stop the perpetrators. Without much scrutiny, the masterminds were able to blame the little people and expected to get away with their terrible deeds. Now that we have at least one court in trying them, hopefully justice will prevail as Sands predicts.