Gonzales Added to War Crimes Complaint in Germany
New Evidence Shows Fay Report on Abu Ghraib Protected Officials; Center for Constitutional Rights Says Attorney General Designate’s Testimony before the Senate Confirms His Role in Abu Ghraib Torture
Synopsis: CCR filed new documents on January 31, 2005, with the German Federal Prosecutor looking into war crimes charges against high-ranking U.S. officials including Donald Rumsfeld: one includes new evidence that the Fay investigation into Abu Ghraib protected Administration officials – it is a comprehensive and shocking opinion by Scott Horton, an expert on international law and the Chair of the International Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The second is a letter that details how Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee confirms his role as complicit in the torture and abuse of detainees in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq.
In a declaration filed with the prosecutor in Karlsruhe, Germany, Scott Horton, who was asked to consider whether or not the U.S. would conduct a genuine investigation up the chain of command for war crimes, unequivocally states that “…no such criminal investigation or prosecution would occur in the near future in the United States for the reason that the criminal investigative and prosecutorial functions are currently controlled by individuals who are involved in the conspiracy to commit war crimes.” One of the legal issues before the prosecutor is whether the German investigation should be dismissed or deferred so that the U.S. authorities have a chance to conduct their own investigation. The obvious answer from Horton’s affidavit is no. The impossibility of an independent and far-reaching domestic investigation of high-ranking U.S. officials coupled with the United States’ refusal to join the International Criminal Court make the German court a court of last resort.
Horton also reveals that a study he undertook of Major General George R. Fay’s investigation of the Abu Ghraib abuses (The Fay Report, spring 2004) shows that the investigation was in fact designed to cover up the role of high-ranking officials. He reports that “certain senior officials whose conduct in this affair bears close scrutiny, were explicitly ‘protected’ or ‘shielded’ by withholding information from investigators or by providing security classifications that made such investigation possible…in each case, the fact that these individuals possessed information on Rumsfeld’s involvement was essential to the decision to shield them.”
Horton cited appeals by leaders of the legal profession in the United States and by the American Bar Association for investigation and action on obvious war crimes, and noted that the Justice Department had failed to act. With the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales now looming, he states “any serious criminal investigation and prosecution would certainly involve Gonzales.”
CCR Vice President Peter Weiss said Gonzales’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee “demonstrates his involvement in setting policy where torture and inhumane treatment was authorized at the highest levels of the Bush Administration.” Weiss pointed to Gonzales’s claim that the prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment does not protect aliens in U.S. custody overseas, stating “this makes clear that Gonzales and the Bush Administration continue to believe that non-citizens held outside the U.S. can be treated inhumanely.”
According to recent news reports, Rumsfeld has threatened to stay away from the annual Munich security conference because of possible investigation and prosecution in Germany. Commenting on this development, CCR President Michael Ratner said, “While we think this is nothing more than a tactic to bully the Germans into dropping the case, we also believe that Donald Rumsfeld cannot escape accountability for his alleged crimes.”
The German Prosecutor was asked on November 30, 2004, by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to investigate the role of ten high-ranking U.S. officials, including Donald Rumsfeld, in the abuse of detainees in Iraq. Under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, which is part of German law, suspected war criminals may be prosecuted irrespective of where they are located. In addition, at least three of the defendants, LTG Ricardo Sanchez, MG Walter Wojdakowski and Colonel Thomas Pappas, are stationed in Germany, providing the Prosecutor with another basis to investigate. Plaintiffs in this case are represented by German attorney Wolfgang Kaleck, and include three Iraqi citizens who were abused at U.S.-run detention facilities in Iraq including Abu Ghraib, and the following organizations who joined the complaint: the Federation Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), Lawyers Against the War (LAW) and the International Legal Resources Center (ILRC).
The new letter to the prosecutor also cites the recent documents unearthed by CCR and the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act, a report of the International Committee of the Red Cross, a confidential report by Colonel Stuart A. Herrington of the U.S. Army and numerous other reports that confirm the widespread character of the abuses and the knowledge of high-ranking U.S. officials.