As I expected, French prosecutors have taken the most politically expedient course and bent French and international law all out of shape to let Rumsfield off the hook on charges of ordering torture.
The Paris prosecutors' office has dismissed a suit against Donald Rumsfeld accusing the former U.S. defense secretary of torture, human rights groups who brought the case said on Friday.I'm just going to repeat the substance of my comment over at Michael van der Galien's place. (Michael today reads as if he has suddenly and belatedly joined the pro-torturers after years of advocating otherwise - I hope I'm wrong and misreading his post in this respect.)
The plaintiffs, who included the French-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), said Rumsfeld had authorized interrogation techniques that led to rights abuses.
The FIDH said it had received a letter from the prosecutors' office ruling that Rumsfeld benefited from a "customary" immunity from prosecution granted to heads of state and government and foreign ministers, even after they left office.
It said in a statement it was "astonished at such a mistaken argument" and said customary immunity from prosecution did not exist under international law.
There is little doubt that at least one inmate at Gitmo, KSM, was waterboarded and that others were subjected to treatments the US has redefined as not being torture despite the Nuremberg court finding said techniques were exactly that and holding commanders responsible for ordering them. There is little doubt that Rumsfield personally ordered “enhanced interrogation techniques” as a command authority.
Saying that Rumsfield should benefit from a ‘customary’ immunity from prosecution that past orderers of torture didn’t get the benefit of - most recently including Pinochet in Spain - is an absurd mangling of international law.
Still, Rummie did his own impression of a "French surrender monkey" when the charges were brought, turning tail and fleeing for the safety of a U.S. air base in Germany. That's small comfort right now, but shows he at least knows what the law actually says.