March 31, 2009

A Chevron lawyer should probably avoid a trip to Barcelona; Spanish prosecutors might want to try him for alleged war crimes

As I detailed in a post in January, William J. Haynes II, Chevron’s chief corporate counsel, has come under intense scrutiny for his work as the Donald Rumsfeld’s general counsel in the Bush Administration’s Defense Department.

Haynes was a leading figure in a highly critical Senate Armed Services Committee report because of his work developing the legal justification for interrogation practices used on detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Now Haynes is facing investigation by Spanish prosecutors, according to the Associated Press. They are considering whether to bring criminal charges against him, as well as former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, UC Berkeley Professor John Yoo, and three other Bush administration officials for "providing a legal cover for interrogation methods like waterboarding against terrorism suspects at Guantanamo, which Spanish human rights lawyers say amounted to torture.”

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Andrew S. Ross adds that the San Francisco chapter of the leftist National Lawyer’s Guild has filed a complaint against Haynes with the State Bar of California, alleging “he breached his duty as a lawyer and advocated for harsh tactics amounting to torture in violation of U.S. and international law … advocacy that directly led to detainee abuses at the Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib facilities.”

The Chronicle's Ross notes that Spanish prosecutors are also investigating another Bay Area figure: Jay S. Bybee, also another former U.S. Justice Department official who is now a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The two other Bush officials on the Spanish prosecutors' radar? Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy, and David Addington, former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

Spanish law allows its courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes under a doctrine of universal justice. Also, five Spanish citizens or residents were allegedly tortured at Guantanamo Bay.

Human rights lawyers brought the case before leading anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to send it on to prosecutors to decide whether it had merit, the Associated Press says, adding:

“Garzon became famous for bringing charges against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, and he and other Spanish judges have agreed to investigate alleged abuses everywhere from Tibet to Argentina's 'dirty war,' El Salvador, and Rwanda."

Even if indictments are eventually handed down against Haynes, Gonzales, Yoo, Bybee, and the others, it is unclear whether these six would ever actually be arrested. They would have to travel to another country willing to take them into custody and help extradite them to Spain for trial.


Jojo Potato said...

You may see him around the area, sports car with plate "CVX LAW". Be sure to wave.

Anonymous said...

What is Chevron thinking? Trying to say theyre all about human rights but hiring this war criminal. Hypocrites.