The New Yorker has an interesting article today regarding the so-called “Bush Six.” These were the six Bush Administration officials whom were called out in a book last year for supporting and helping to accomplish the torturing of Islamic terrorists in the wake of 9-11. The author of the book, Phillipe Sands, claimed that Bush’s “Torture Team” should be very careful if traveling around the world as they could suddenly find themselves tapped on the shoulder and arrested for human rights violations in relation to torture. Among those who were pointed out are 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. My question is, why not go after Bush himself if these allegations are true? Of course the answer is they know there is nothing really here and they would have no shot at going after Bush.

Sands has taken this personal vendetta against the Bush Administration to the point where a Spanish Court is now willing to hear his case and is taking the first steps towards a criminal investigation of the Bush Administration. Sands has apparently cajoled some Spanish minister (an elected socialist government with no love for the Bush Administration) into starting an inquiry against these members. How far will this go, no one knows for sure. However, it seems to me that Sands has been engaging in what we lawyers call “forum shopping”. In otherwords, you find a jurisdiction that is going to be more favorable to your claims and you file your case there so you are more likely to get a favorable judgment. Why not file this with The Hague or with an English court? Clearly the answer is because of all the European nations, the Spanish might be the most sympathetic to this cause.

What is even more absurd is that the author of the New Yorker piece, Jane Mayer, states that:

It is hard to predict what will happen next, but, if arrest warrants are issued, the Obama Administration may be forced either to extradite the former officials or to start its own investigation. Sands, who admires Obama, said, “I regret that I have added to his in-box when he has so much else to sort out. But I hope he does the right thing. There’s not much dispute anymore: torture happened, and the law is clear—torture must be punished.”

I disagree with her statement and I think it would be a huge mistake for Obama to extradite any of the former administration members to Spain! Imagine our former Attorney General being brought up in charges in another country, and our current president of a different party allows the extradition to take place. This is the lid of Pandora’s box, because eventually there will be a Republican in office again, and you can bet your sweet biffy that payback will be on the agenda if there were allowed to happen. The last thing you want to start is a tradition of allowing former officials to be shipped off to other countries to stand trial. Presidents, regardless of party, must fight for executive privilege and they must protect former administration members from political assassinations, which is what this is. This is especially true of International Courts or courts of countries who certainly don’t have America’s best interest in mind.

To bring these charges against Prof. John Yoo, a law professor at Berkeley, is also equally stupid. In fact, if anything, Obama (or any president) should be a big fan of Yoo’s. Yoo is very clearly in favor of strong executive power. His basic argument is that as the commander-in-chief the President can do just about any thing he wishes to further the interests of America. If Congress doesn’t like it, they can do two things to stop him. First, they could always impeach him. Second, they can take away the funding that the President uses. That’s basically all they can do. From a real world perspective, it is hard to argue with Yoo. If a president is hell-bent on doing something how can you stop him? Courts, rarely if ever, get involved, and even if they do how do you enforce a judgment if the President is not willing to listen to it? I know it sounds like Yoo (and myself through extension) are arguing for unlimited presidential power, but that is not true. I am merely pointing out, whether we like it or not, Yoo is essentially right.