A US human rights group has called on foreign governments to prosecute George W Bush and some of his senior officials for war crimes if the Obama administration fails to investigate a growing body of evidence against the former president over the use of torture.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday that the US authorities were legally obliged to investigate the top echelons of the Bush administration over crimes such as torture, abduction and other mistreatment of prisoners. It says that the former administration's legal team was part of the conspiracy in preparing opinions authorising abuses that they knew to have no standing in US or international law.
Besides Bush, HRW names his vice-president, Dick Cheney, the former defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and the ex-CIA director, George Tenet, as likely to be guilty of authorising torture and other crimes.
The group says that the investigation and prosecutions are required "if the US hopes to wipe away the stain of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo and reaffirm the primacy of the rule of law".
HRW acknowledges the broad allegations are not new but says they should be given fresh attention because of growing documentary evidence with the release of previously classified papers, admissions made in books by Bush and others, and from a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross report that details illegal practices by the former administration.
The author of the HRW report, Reed Brody, says the issue also deserves renewed scrutiny because the Obama administration has all but abandoned its obligations. "It's become abundantly clear that there is no longer any movement on the part of the Obama administration to live up to its responsibilities to investigate these cases when the evidence just keeps piling up. Just this year we have the different admissions by President Bush that he authorised waterboarding," he said.
HRW says Bush and his senior officials are open to prosecution under the 1996 War Crimes Act as well as for criminal conspiracy under federal law.
TVNL Comment: Remember that, by FBI standards, Bush is still the world's leading terrorst.