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.
From the Astute Bloggers:
I can not figure out why this agency would need diplomatic immunity. Anyone got any ideas?
The United States National Central Bureau (USNCB), a component of the U.S. Department of Justice, serves as the point of contact for all INTERPOL matters involving the United States and its state, local and federal law enforcement officials.
The USNCB transmits requests for international investigative assistance to and from law enforcement officials in the United States and those in the other 187 INTERPOL member countries.
Assistance Provided by The USNCB
The USNCB provides assistance, without charge, to all U.S. federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, as well as to police authorities in other INTERPOL member countries seeking assistance from the U.S. law enforcement community. The USNCB is operational 24/7.
The USNCB provides a variety of services to the U.S. law enforcement community including, but not limited to:
- Requests for criminal investigative assistance for both domestic and foreign law enforcement agencies
- Secure communications with police officials in 185 countries
- Information from INTERPOL’s Databases, including the equivalent of the “International NCIC” with information on persons wanted in 187 countries, Stolen and Lost Travel Documents, Stolen Vehicles, DNA, and other criminal law enforcement information
- Criminal History information and Record Checks from member countries
- Tracing and locating fugitives wanted for prosecution and to serve sentences
- Tracing and locating missing persons or abducted children
- International fingerprint and DNA checks
- Weapons and vehicle traces
- Assisting with border security
- Disaster victim identification
- Locating stolen art and artifacts
The USNCB offers these services to the law enforcement community exclusively. Private Citizens or non-law enforcement entities seeking assistance should contact their local law enforcement agency or other appropriate state, local or federal authority.
My first thought had been that Interpol may have been involved in providing security for diplomats at the United Nations (in which case, maybe they would need to share diplomatic immunity in that capacity for some technical reason), but that does not seem to be the case.
From Threats Watch:
Here is a list (once again, from Interpol's website at the U.S. Dept. of Justice) of the U.S. government agencies with which Interpol works at this time:
Context: International Criminal Court
The importance of this last crucial point cannot be understated, because this immunity and protection - and elevation above the US Constitution - afforded INTERPOL is likely a precursor to the White House subjecting the United States under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
INTERPOL provides a significant enforcement function for the ICC, just as our FBI provides a significant function for our Department of Justice.
We direct the American public to paragraph 28 of the ICC's Proposed Programme Budget for 2010 (PDF).
29. Additionally, the Court will continue to seek the cooperation of States not party to the Rome Statute and to develop its relationships with regional organizations such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the Arab League (AL), the African Union (AU), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), ASEAN and CARICOM. We will also continue to engage with subregional and thematic organizations, such as SADC and ECOWAS, and the Commonwealth Secretariat and the OIF. This will be done through high level visits, briefings and, as appropriate, relationship agreements. Work will also be carried out with sectoral organizations such as IDLO and INTERPOL, to increase efficiency.
The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute - the UN treaty that established the International Criminal Court. (See: Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court)
President George W. Bush rejected subjecting the United States to the jurisdiction of the ICC and removed the United States as a signatory. President Bill Clinton had previously signed the Rome Statute during his presidency.
Two critical matters are at play. One is an overall matter of sovereignty and the concept of the primacy of American law above those of the rest of the world. But more recently a more over-riding concern principally has been the potential - if not likely - specter of subjecting our Armed Forces to a hostile international body seeking war crimes prosecutions during the execution of an unpopular war.
President Bush in fact went so far as to gain agreement from nations that they would expressly not detain or hand over to the ICC members of the United States armed forces. The fear of a symbolic ICC circus trial as a form of international political protest to American military actions in Iraq and elsewhere was real and palpable.
President Obama's words have been carefully chosen when directly regarding the ICC. While President Bush outright rejected subjugating American armed forces to any international court as a matter of policy, President Obama said in his 2008 presidential campaign that it is merely "premature to commit" to signing America on.
However, in a Foreign Policy in Focus round-table in 2008, the host group cited his former foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power. She essentially laid down what can be viewed as now-President Obama's roadmap to America rejoining the ICC.
His principal objections are not explained as those of sovereignty, but rather of image and perception.
Obama's former foreign policy advisor, Samantha Power, said in an early March (2008) interview with The Irish Times that many things need to happen before Obama could think about signing the Rome Treaty.
"Until we've closed Guantánamo, gotten out of Iraq responsibly, renounced torture and rendition, shown a different face for America, American membership of the ICC is going to make countries around the world think the ICC is a tool of American hegemony.
- The detention center at Guantánamo Bay is nearing its closure and an alternate continental American site for terrorist detention has been selected in Illinois.
- The time line for Iraq withdrawal has been set.
- And President Obama has given an abundance of international speeches intended to "show a different face for America." He has in fact been roundly criticized domestically for the routinely apologetic and critical nature of these speeches.
President Obama has not rejected the concept of ICC jurisdiction over US citizens and service members. He has avoided any direct reference to this while offering praise for the ICC for conducting its trials so far "in America's interests."
The door thus remains wide open to the skeptical observer.
In light of what we know and can observe, it is our logical conclusion that President Obama's Executive Order amending President Ronald Reagans' 1983 EO 12425 and placing INTERPOL above the United States Constitution and beyond the legal reach of our own top law enforcement is a precursor to more damaging moves.
The pre-requisite conditions regarding the Iraq withdrawal and the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility closure will continue their course. Meanwhile, the next move from President Obama is likely an attempt to dissolve the agreements made between President Bush and other states preventing them from turning over American military forces to the ICC (via INTERPOL) for war crimes or any other prosecutions.
When the paths on the road map converge - Iraq withdrawal, Guantánamo closure, perceived American image improved internationally, and an empowered INTERPOL in the United States - it is probable that President Barack Obama will once again make America a signatory to the International Criminal Court.
It will be a move that surrenders American sovereignty to an international body who's INTERPOL enforcement arm has already been elevated above the Constitution and American domestic law enforcement.
For an added and disturbing wrinkle, INTERPOL's central operations office in the United States is within our own Justice Department offices.
They are American law enforcement officers working under the aegis of INTERPOL within our own Justice Department. That they now operate with full diplomatic immunity and with "inviolable archives" from within our own buildings should send red flags soaring into the clouds.
This is the disturbing context for President Obama's quiet release of an amended Executive Order 12425.
American sovereignty hangs in the balance if these actions are not prevented through public outcry and political pressure.
Some Americans are paying attention, as can be seen from some of the earliest recognitions of this troubling development here, here and here. But the discussion must extend well beyond the Internet and social media.
Ultimately, a detailed verbal explanation is due the American public from the President of the United States detailing why an international law enforcement arm assisting a court we are not a signatory to has been elevated above our Constitution upon our soil.
So, with the stoke of a pen, it seems, President Obama has put all of these agencies out of the purview of the U.S. Constitution (insofar as they work with Interpol ... or would it be better said, INSOFAR AS THEY CLAIM TO BE WORKING AT THE BEHEST OF INTERPOL).
WHO WE SERVE
Agencies Detailed to the USNCB (Subject To Change)
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) - The ATF is a principal law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice... (read more)
- Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) - The CBP is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)... (read more)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - ICE is the largest investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)... (read more)
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States... (read more)
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - The Criminal Investigation Division investigates the most significant and egregious violators of environmental laws... (read more)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - The FBI is the principal investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice. It has the authority and responsibility to investigate specific crimes assigned to it... (read more)
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) - The TSA is a component of the Department of Homeland Security and is responsible for security of the nation's transportation systems... (read more)
- U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) - The United States Coast Guard is one of the country's five armed services; it operates as part of the Department of Homeland Security, serving as the nation's front-line agency for enforcing our laws at sea... (read more)
- U.S. Department of State (DOS) - The Diplomatic Security Service is the security and law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of State. Diplomatic Security agents serve a majority of their careers overseas... (read more)
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation... (read more)
- U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) - The Marshals Service is the federal government's lead agency for conducting investigations involving: escaped federal prisoners; probation, parole and bond default violators; and fugitives based on warrants generated during drug investigations. The U.S. Marshals have the authority to make an arrest on all federal warrants... (read more)
- U.S. Postal Inspection Service - The mission of the United States Postal Inspection Service is to protect the U.S. Postal Service, secure the nation's mail system and ensure public trust in the mail... (read more)
- U.S. Secret Service - The Secret Service was established in 1865, solely to suppress the counterfeiting of U.S. currency. Today, the agency is mandated by Congress to carry out dual missions: protection of national and visiting foreign leaders, and criminal investigations... (read more)
Ed Morrissey (Hot Air) on Obama's Super-Police:
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.MORE TO COME.
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.