Politics

Interpol: No Tin Foil Hats Necessary

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The conspiracy-minded blogs have been abuzz about President Obama’s Executive Order granting Interpol certain privileges and immunities. Fears of the loss of national sovereignty lead the pack with some going as far as saying this opens the door to Americans being kidnapped to appear before the World Court. The calmer voices have been saying it only grants “diplomatic immunity” to members of Interpol operating in this country. Both explanations are wrong.

Jake Tapper at ABC News has provided an explanation, complete with the history of the special classification:

The International Organizations Immunities Act, signed into law in 1945, established a special group of foreign or international organizations whose members could work in the U.S. and enjoy certain exemptions from US taxes and search and seizure laws.

Experts say there are about 75 organizations in the US covered by the International Organizations Immunities Act — including the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Monetary Fund, the International Committee of the Red Cross, even the International Pacific Halibut Commission and Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.

(These privileges are not the same as the rights afforded under “diplomatic immunity,” they are considerably less. “Diplomatic immunity” comes from the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which states that a “diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State.” That is NOT what the International Organizations Immunities Act is.)

President Reagan granted Interpol some protections in 1983, then President Clinton expanded them in 1995. But because Interpol did not have a permanent office in the US, the full protections of the International Organizations Immunities Act were not needed. Tapper reports he has been told Interpol established permanent offices in the US in 2004.

Individual officers of Interpol are still subject to our criminal and civil laws, and do not enjoy diplomatic immunity. The protections afforded Interpol by President Obama are the same as those given to other international organizations, including the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Cross-posted to FrankHagan.com