George Bush Cuts and Runs from Torture Case in Switzerland

Apparently, former president, George W. Bush does “cut and run.”

On February 7, 2011, two torture victims were to have filed criminal complaints for torture against former president George W. Bush in Geneva.  Bush was due to speak there at a charity gala on February 12th.  On the eve of the case filing, Bush abruptly canceled his trip, choosing instead to attend the Super Bowl in Dallas.  Why would he rather be in Dallas than in Geneva? For one thing, Swiss authorities are under a legal obligation to start a preliminary criminal investigation if a torturer is on Swiss soil. But thanks to Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to apply U.S. law to investigate torture, Bush isn’t even breaking a sweat in Dallas – or anywhere in the U.S. for that matter.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), along with the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights prepared the detailed case in Switzerland, with support from the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). Swiss law requires the presence of an alleged torturer on Swiss soil before a preliminary investigation can be open.  Because Bush canceled, the complaints could not be filed as the basis for legal jurisdiction no longer existed. However, the fact that Bush authorized torture remains — especially on this, the ninth anniversary of his decision that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the conflict with al Qaeda or to so-called “unlawful combatants”.

In the long run, ducking a charge of torture is not as easy as ducking a shoe thrown at a press conference. Accordingly, CCR publicly released the Preliminary Bush Torture Indictment. The Indictment provides a strong factual and legal basis to hold Bush accountable — in any of the 147 countries which have ratified the Convention Against Torture (CAT) — for having authorized torture. In addition, the Indictment compiles more than 2,500 pages of publicly available supporting material, and has the support of two Nobel Peace Prize winners, more than 60 NGOs, and two former UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

In light of clear international law, broad international support, and the evidence laid out in the Indictment, it’s no wonder that Bush canceled his trip to Switzerland in order to evade the possibility for prosecution for torture. And, of course, that’s a big part of the point of this aspect of international law: the perpetrators of torture crimes shouldn’t be afforded safe haven.  But another important question for us to consider as the rest of the world gets much smaller for George W. Bush is, why is Eric Holder comfortable with allowing him safe haven here in the United States?

Vincent Warren is the Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a national legal and educational organization dedicated to advancing and defending the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.You can follow him on Twitter: @VinceWarren Read other articles by Vincent.

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  1. mary said on February 10th, 2011 at 6:00am #

    Are all the torturers trained in Quantico like these Egyptian monsters?


    The FBI boast of their prowess here – set in 35 wooded acres….. sounds like an estate agent’s blurb.

    It’s a full-service national training facility—with conference rooms and classrooms, dorms, firing ranges, a gym and pool, a library, a dining hall, even a mock town.

    The FBI Academy is located on 385 wooded acres on a Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia about 36 miles outside Washington, D.C. Much of the FBI’s training takes place here—from minting new agents and analysts to grooming law enforcement leaders from around the world.


    They ‘mint’ new agents as you see!

    The place name fascinated me. ‘The Quantico base is close to the Potomac River. The area was originally inhabited by the Patowomacks (Algonquian) in the 16th century. The name “Quantico” is credited to come from a Native American term, and has been translated to mean “by the large stream.” Accounts show that the area was first visited by European explorers in the summer of 1608 with settlement beginning later that year.’ Wikipedia

    No doubt much Patowomack blood was split there.