Did Obama exempt Interpol from same legal constraints as American law-enforcement?

posted at 2:55 pm on December 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

During his presidency, Ronald Reagan granted the global police agency Interpol the status of diplomatic personnel in order to engage more constructively on international law enforcement.  In Executive Order 12425, Reagan made two exceptions to that status.  The first had to do with taxation, but the second was to make sure that Interpol had the same accountability for its actions as American law enforcement — namely, they had to produce records when demanded by courts and could not have immunity for their actions.

Barack Obama unexpectedly revoked those exceptions in a change to EO 12425 last month, as Threats Watch reports:

Last Thursday, December 17, 2009, The White House released an Executive Order “Amending Executive Order 12425.” It grants INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization) a new level of full diplomatic immunity afforded to foreign embassies and select other “International Organizations” as set forth in the United States International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945.

By removing language from President Reagan’s 1983 Executive Order 12425, this international law enforcement body now operates – now operates – on American soil beyond the reach of our own top law enforcement arm, the FBI, and is immune from Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests. …

After initial review and discussions between the writers of this analysis, the context was spelled out plainly.

Through EO 12425, President Reagan extended to INTERPOL recognition as an “International Organization.” In short, the privileges and immunities afforded foreign diplomats was extended to INTERPOL. Two sets of important privileges and immunities were withheld: Section 2© and the remaining sections cited (all of which deal with differing taxes).

And then comes December 17, 2009, and President Obama. The exemptions in EO 12425 were removed.

Section 2c of the United States International Organizations Immunities Act is the crucial piece.

Property and assets of international organizations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, unless such immunity be expressly waived, and from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable. (Emphasis added.)

Inviolable archives means INTERPOL records are beyond US citizens’ Freedom of Information Act requests and from American legal or investigative discovery (“unless such immunity be expressly waived.”)

Property and assets being immune from search and confiscation means precisely that. Wherever they may be in the United States. This could conceivably include human assets – Americans arrested on our soil by INTERPOL officers.

Actually, that last argument overreaches.  American law does not consider people as “assets.”  It does mean, though, that Interpol officers would have diplomatic immunity for any lawbreaking conducted in the US at a time when Interpol nations (like Italy) have attempted to try American intelligence agents for their work in the war on terror, a rather interesting double standard.

It also appears to mean that Americans who get arrested on the basis of Interpol work cannot get the type of documentation one normally would get in the discovery process, which is a remarkable reversal from Obama’s declared efforts to gain “due process” for terrorists detained at Gitmo.  Does the White House intend to treat Americans worse than the terrorists we’ve captured during wartime?

Andy McCarthy wonders the same thing:

Interpol’s property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America’s defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?

I seem to recall the Left getting hysterical over the Patriot Act extensions that Obama finally backed.  This gives Interpol a much wider operational latitude than anything contemplated in the Patriot Act, and with no accountability at all.

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Are we at the point where we need to be armed, and I mean legally, in order to protect ourselves?

UncleZeb on December 23, 2009 at 7:29 PM

So if Interpol agents kidnapped those Americans convicted by Italy and took them to Italy, they could not be punished?

Hard Right on December 23, 2009 at 8:30 PM

Are we at the point where we need to be armed, and I mean legally, in order to protect ourselves?

UncleZeb on December 23, 2009 at 7:29 PM


Wanderlust on December 23, 2009 at 8:31 PM

So if Interpol agents kidnapped those Americans convicted by Italy and took them to Italy, they could not be punished?

Hard Right on December 23, 2009 at 8:30 PM

You could not even force INTERPOL to release any documentation about it, either, under the revised EO.

Wanderlust on December 23, 2009 at 8:33 PM


Seven Percent Solution on December 23, 2009 at 8:35 PM

Does the White House intend to treat Americans worse than the terrorists we’ve captured during wartime?

That’s the real question isn’t it? Why did Obama need to do this at all?

Rob Taylor on December 23, 2009 at 8:41 PM

Don’t forget that the change to the EO means that INTERPOL can now:

* Go after any US or Israeli official or other person charged somewhere in the EU (e.g., The International Court) with “war crimes”; and

* Act immune from any threat of disclosure or prosecution by any judicial body in the US.

And all we have is Barry’s “good word” that INTERPOL will play nice.

GWB won’t have to worry because he has a full contingent of Secret Service guards to protect him. IIRC, Cheney has a smaller detail, but he still has something.

But if I were, say, Donald Rumsfeld, Ret. Gen. Tommy Franks, or John Yoo, I’d be hiring Blackwater to keep me safe…

Wanderlust on December 23, 2009 at 8:48 PM

Oh, and don’t forget: this is coming from the same Barry who tried to rig the game to change the 2nd Amendment through the late 1990’s by peppering law journals with articles arguing against personal gun ownership.

If I were living in the States now and an INTERPOL agent came knocking for any reason, I’d shoot first, aiming for neck or forehead.

Wanderlust on December 23, 2009 at 8:53 PM

Obama thinks the CIA behave stupidly. Pelosi calls them ‘liars’. Looks like obama has outsourced policing to interpol.

We are living in very scary times.

TN Mom on December 23, 2009 at 8:58 PM

All Obowma received for changing these sovereignty laws in America was a lousy Nobel Prize.

Hmmm, did we miss the Stalin and Mussolini ornaments they placed on the White House tree?

We must remove these fascist democrats in 2010.

dthorny on December 23, 2009 at 9:44 PM

Can we get a list of names of obama’s ‘protected class’?

shooter on December 23, 2009 at 10:11 PM

So just so I’m clear, terror suspects are given the full protection of the U.S. Constitution, but actual citizens — not so much.

Obama is FUBAR.

NoLeftTurn on December 23, 2009 at 10:44 PM

if it weakens us…he’s for it.

Army Brat on December 24, 2009 at 1:53 AM

I really think 2010 is the start of the end of the USA as we knew it. Its either Go Galt, or Go to Jail (for refusing ObamaCare, paying taxes…).

Neo on December 24, 2009 at 3:02 AM

Mad Mad Monica on 12/23, 0630 said: “You guys realize what the aim of this is, right? How better to insure evil Bush and Cheney face trial for war crimes than to allow a foreign police agency the right to arrest and detain people without due process? ” Whether this is the case or not may be beside the point. A European bureaucracy with certain police powers, of what exact nature this writer is not familiar, is nevertheless granted certain and very specific immunities which, if granted to the police of Lincoln’s Peoria, would be easily recognized and both unconstitutional and tyrannic. We must assume the exact purpose of this amending of those limits put in place by the Dunce President, have been seen through and wisely eliminated by that constitutional scholar, the Boy President.

I have wondered how he was going to try and circumvent American law, this seems like a nice trial balloon.

thomasaur on 12/23, 4:03 said: ” I have wondered how he was going to try and circumvent American law, this seems like a nice trial balloon. ” With this I concur 100%. These people, in the first circle, are not lovers of liberty, but Transnational Progressives. (See John Fonte, Transnational Progressives.) Unbelieveably, (but maybe not so for this Land of 10000 Therapies), there is at the U. of MN a law professor, (whose name escapes my memory), who believes people have no right to defend themselves, and that such rights belong only to (Great Escape reference here) “…the higher authorities”. “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like ifevery Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had beenuncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if,during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested aquarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling withterror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but hadunderstood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall anambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, polkers, or whatever else was athand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for nogood purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of acutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria sitting out there on the street with one lonelychauffeur — what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked. The Organs would veryquickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all ofStalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! ”
The time may come when we dare not wait for this last chance in the doorways, when to stop reacting and simply act. Fortunately we are armed, but to believe the enemy is the police is to mistake the police for the state. (In Sozlzhenitsyn’s quote above however, they had become equivalent.) It seems to me the trick will be preventing the police and military from becoming trapped into joining the state against the People. This is part of what seems possible by the Boy president’s exec. order; police must choose their jobs or a “We must join with Sarumann” …

Broadsword on December 24, 2009 at 10:27 AM

Oops, dropped a thought”…jobs or face the “join with Sarumann” choice.

During the RNC convention, the rioting lefties believed they were fighting a police state. (Someone should ask them whey they were not simply machine gunned on John Ireland Blvd, or why those arrested were ever heard from again. I know, for them, trick question. Heh.) The muscle is just the muscle. What must be opposed is the malevolent eye behind the muscles. As another blogger has said, “No more free Wacos”.

Broadsword on December 24, 2009 at 10:38 AM

This is Our Lord and Savior’s SS, His Gestapo. The basis for the civilian national security force He wants to create. Combine them with ACORN and SEIU and we’ve got a major threat to our freedoms, not to mention the 2010 and 2012 elections.

A declaration of martial law, anyone?

Everything is now in the ballpark.

pdigaudio on December 24, 2009 at 12:56 PM