Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Here Come Da UN’s Judge

While there’s a part of me that likes the idea of a Spanish judge investigating Bush’s slimeball lawyers (see WVR’s post below), I have to admit that the idea bothers me quite a bit.  Bainbridge (thank goodness he’s blogging again) makes some great points in a “you really should read the whole thing” post:

First, do we really want a lone national judge in one state interfering with issues of global diplomacy? Suppose the UN worked out a deal for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to step down and be replaced by a democratically chosen civilian. As part of the deal, the UN and the ICC agreed to drop al-Bashir’s indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Just as al-Bashir is about to leave Sudan, however, Garz√≥n indicts him in Spain for the same charges. The diplomatic apple cart all too easily could be upset by a rogue jurist.

Second, there is a serious risk of politicization of claims premised on universal jurisdiction. Do you want a far left judge backed by an anti-American regime being able to pursue a political agenda against US state actors? Conversely, do you want a neo-fascist judge backed by a far right regime going after Israeli officials who conduct West Bank settlement policy (which, after all, is arguably at least as egregious a violation of international law as anything John Yoo did)?

I think a case can be made for restricting invocation of universal jurisdiction by individual states to cases like piracy, while restricting its use in cases like this one to multi-state international courts, such as the ICC, that are subject to checks and balances so obviously absent in Spain.

It is always tempted to grasp a tool that lies readily at hand and offers short term results. Yet, expediency is all too often the opposite of prudence. The Bush policy on terror was a bad policy. But allowing Garzon to go forward is also a bad policy.

I have to agree.  I understand Spain’s interest—this arises out of an investigation into a Spanish citizen who was held at Gitmo.  But the idea of crossing national and legal boundaries in such a cavalier fashion bothers me.

Allowing this opens up a big can of worms—particularly one labelled International Criminal Court.  I’ve long been critical of the ICC and other international bodies of justice which have little respect for the Constitutional rights and civil liberties that we Americans hold so dear.  Just in the last week, to pick on the the UN once again, we saw a “global warming plan” that consisted mostly of wealth redistribution and Human Rights body that passed a non-binding resolution forbidding criticism of religion.

Yoo and his like are slime.  But I would much prefer them punished by this country.  It was, after all, our national soul—not Spain’s—that they sold out.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/30/09 at 07:06 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil • Permalink

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