Says international law, convention obligates Obama government to begin criminal investigation or extradite to country that would prosecute
Congressional Democrats indicate willingness to proceed with investigations...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2009, 5:30pm PT  

From Scott Horton at Harper's...

In an interview on Tuesday evening with the German television program “Frontal 21,” on channel ZDF Professor Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Rapporteur responsible for torture, stated that with George W. Bush’s head of state immunity now terminated, the new government of Barack Obama was obligated by international law to commence a criminal investigation into Bush’s torture practices.

“The evidence is sitting on the table,” he stated. “There is no avoiding the fact that this was torture.” He pointed to the U.S. undertakings under the Convention Against Torture in which the country committed that it would criminally prosecute anyone who tortured, or extradite the person to a state that would prosecute him. “The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court,” Nowak said.
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Law professor Dietmar Herz clarifies that under U.S. and international law, George W. Bush bears personal responsibility for the introduction of torture. From the point of his departure from office, head of state immunity terminates, and under clear principles of international law, the United States is obligated to commence a criminal investigation and then a prosecution.

In related news, top Congressional Democrats, including Senators Reid, Levin and Whitehouse, as well as Representatives Pelosi, Hoyer and Conyers have all indicated recently, in various forms, interest in investigations and/or accountability for various Bush crimes, which, reports Jason Leopold at Public Record, amounts to a growing consensus among Dems to approve a probe into torture allegations, and perhaps more.

UPDATE 1/26/09: In an interview with CNN, Nowak said he believes there is already enough evidence to prosecute fomer SecDef Don Rumsfeld:

"We have clear evidence," he said. "In our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the legal council of the Navy, 'Mr. Secretary, what you are actual ordering here amounts to torture.' So, there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but, nevertheless, he ordered torture."

RAW STORY has the video of the CNN interview with Nowak...