Bush Forced to Cancel Europe Trip After Human Rights Groups Threaten to Prosecute Him for Torture
Schadenfreude alert: the past has come back to bite Bush II in the *ss. Dubya has reportedly been forced to cancel a planned trip to Geneva, Switzerland, because human rights groups are threatening to prosecute him for the torture of Guantanamo prisoners that took place on his watch.
The Washington Postreports that the trip was called off after several groups "called for demonstrations and threatened legal action over allegations that the former president sanctioned the torture of terrorism suspects." Among those organizations are the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and several European groups, which have been pushing for Swiss prosecutors to open a case against Bush when (or rather, if) he enters the country.
Both Bush's handlers and the United Israel Appeal, the group that invited the former president to Switzerland, claim that the trip was canceled due to the threat of violent protests, not legal action against Bush. But, as Salon's Justin Elliott notes, protests are hardly new to Dubya:
What was different about this trip was that groups including Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights argued that Switzerland, as a party to the UN Convention against Torture, is obligated to investigate Bush for potential prosecution.
Bush has traveled widely since leaving office, but not to Europe, where there is a strong tradition of international prosecutions.
A memo from Amnesty International to Swiss authorities underscores why Bush should be worried:
“To date, we’ve seen a handful of military investigations into detentions and interrogations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo. But none of these has had the independence and reach necessary to investigate high-level officials such as President Bush,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
“Meanwhile, there has been virtually zero accountability for crimes committed in the CIA’s secret detention program, which was authorized by then-President Bush.”
Anywhere in the world that he travels, President Bush could face investigation and potential prosecution for his responsibility for torture and other crimes in international law, particularly in any of the 147 countries that are party to the UN Convention against Torture.