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Date of cable: April 17, 2009
Origin: U.S. Embassy in Madrid
This cable details numerous meetings held between U.S. officials and Spanish officials in which the U.S. government sought to influence the outcome of the criminal proceeding against six former Bush administration lawyers (the “Bush Six”) and shield those who authorized torture from being held accountable through Spanish litigation.
Notably, it celebrates the Spanish Attorney General Cándido Conde-Pumpido’s public statement on April 16, 2009 announcing that he would “‘undoubtedly’” not support the criminal complaint against the “Bush Six,” and highlights in a heading that his “ANNOUNCEMENT FOLLOWS INTENSIVE USG [U.S. government] OUTREACH” (emphasis in original). The U.S. embassy in Madrid assessed that the announcement would put “pressure on crusading judge Garzón … not to proceed with the investigation,” and lists numerous meetings between U.S. and Spanish government officials in which U.S. officials sought to stop the “Bush Six” case.
The record of one significant secret meeting shows that the Obama administration sent Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)—who had been chairman of the Republican Party—to a meeting between the U.S. embassy’s Charge d’Affairs and the acting Spanish foreign minister Angel Lossada. The Americans “underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship” between Spain and the United States. Lossada made reference to the independence of the judiciary, but ultimately responded that although the Government of Spain “did not have much margin to operate,” it would advise the Attorney General, Cándido Conde-Pumpido, that “the official administration position was that the GOS [Government of Spain] was ‘not in accord with the National Court’” pursuing this case.
Another Republican senator who lobbied the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this matter was Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH). Accompanied by the U.S. embassy’s Charge d’Affairs, he visited the Ministry on April 13, 2009, and expressed his “concern” about the case to Luis Felipe Fernandez de la Pena, the Director General and Policy Director for North America and Europe. Fernandez de la Pena “lamented this development” and expressed that he “disagreed with efforts to apply universal jurisdiction in such cases.”
The cable ends by expressing concern that the case could still proceed and accused Bush administration officials could be formally named as defendants, with warrants issued for their arrests. The U.S. officials authoring this cable call this a “worst-case scenario” and worry that it “remains a possibility at this point.”