It is with great concern I recently read that President Walking Eagle has taken it upon himself to quietly change Executive Order 12425. While Congress and the country has been embroiled over the Senate battle over health care “reform”, last Thursday he signed the following:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
December 17, 2009
Executive Order — Amending Executive Order 12425
– – – – – – –
AMENDING EXECUTIVE ORDER 12425 DESIGNATING INTERPOL
AS A PUBLIC INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION ENTITLED TO
ENJOY CERTAIN PRIVILEGES, EXEMPTIONS, AND IMMUNITIES
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. 288), and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983, as amended, is further amended by deleting from the first sentence the words “except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act” and the semicolon that immediately precedes them.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
December 16, 2009.
Doesn’t look like much, does it? It’s certainly not making any headlines in the media. But unfortunately, it’s a Really Big Deal. You see, INTERPOL is the International Criminal Police Organization. Basically, the global cops; according to their own website:
Created in 1923, it facilitates cross-border police co-operation, and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime.
INTERPOL aims to facilitate international police co-operation even where diplomatic relations do not exist between particular countries. Action is taken within the limits of existing laws in different countries and in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. INTERPOL’s constitution prohibits ‘any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.’
The United States was a founding member of the organization, however She is not part of the International Criminal Court (ICC), in which INTERPOL plays a significant role. President Bush removed the U.S. as a signatory (Bill Clinton had signed the Rome Statute, a U.N. treaty establishing the ICC) , and:
“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.”
In 1983, President Reagan signed the original Executive Order 12425:
By virtue of the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and statutes of the United States, including Section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669, 22 U.S.C. 288), it is hereby ordered that the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), in which the United States participates pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 263a, is hereby designated as a public international organization entitled to enjoy the privileges, exemptions and immunities conferred by the International Organizations Immunities Act; except those provided by Section 2(c), the portions of Section 2(d) and Section 3 relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act. This designation is not intended to abridge in any respect the privileges, exemptions or immunities which such organization may have acquired or may acquire by international agreement or by Congressional action.
Section 2(c) reads:
Section 2(c) 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.
What we have here is that INTERPOL was simply granted “diplomatic immunity” but, unlike diplomats, because of Reagan’s exception, they have always been subject to, in particular, the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The same way citizens, including those who work in the FBI, the CIA, Congress, etc., are subject to it. (A good explanation of this matter can be read here.) Yet this is the crucial part just removed by Obama (the other sections refer to various taxes from which diplomats are typically exempt; does this mean U.S. INTERPOL operations will now pay Social Security, FICA, and property taxes?)
For just what purpose has Obama chosen to allow the members of this international law enforcement organization who operate in the United States the right to do so ABOVE the law of the land? He has granted them special privileges and effectively subordinated the Constitution to international law. And perhaps a more disturbing part of the whole matter is this:
“…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.
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.”
Andrew McCarthy at the National Review Online shared further thoughts today about this still-underreported, underquestioned, and most importantly unanswered change:
Mark Tapscott has thoughts at the Washington Examiner. Mark points out something I’d forgotten: “Interpol and ICC [the Intenrational Criminal Court] … took seriously Iran’s Oct. 3, 2009, request that 25 top Israeli civilian and military officials be placed on the international ‘Most Wanted’ list because of their actions in Gaza against murderous Palestinian radicals.”
Mark also observes that an Obama offical told the New York Times that the administration has not explained the President’s decision to immunize Interpol because — notwithstanding that the President took pains to amend a longstanding, Reagan-era executive order (EO 12425) and the White House issued a press release announcing tha the had done so — “there is nothing newsworthy here.” [By the way, I love the fact that, to Charlie Gibson and the rest of the Obama press office at the Times, the interesting part of this story is not the immunization of a police force but the fact that Obama’s decision “irks conservatives.”] Mark counters:
If there is nothing newsworthy involved, then why won’t the White House answer these basic questions regarding the EO?
Every other international organization granted such exemptions deals with mundane issues like fish – the International Pacific Halibut Commission – or disaster aid – the Red Cross. But Interpol is a law enforcement operation. Why does President Obama think it appropriate to give such exemptions to an international law enforcement operation, and what does he want Interpol to do here in the U.S. in the future with the exemptions that it cannot do now without the exemptions?
Does the search and seizure exemption extend to the activities and documents created by U.S. Department of Justice employees working with and for Interpol in New York and Washington, D.C.? If these employees and activities were already exempt from coverage of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), why have FOIA requests concerning them been previously answered?