The Corner

Why Immunity for Interpol?

I asked here a week ago why President Obama decided it was suddenly necessary to place the international police agency, Interpol, above the constraints of American law. There has been no answer, but the question is is not going away — not until the President explains himself.

This morning, I had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with Rick Santorum, who — even on New Year’s Day – was pulling his usual Friday duty as host of Bill Bennett’s show. The plan was to talk about the Christmas airplane terror attack, but the first caller, who was very well-informed and alarmed, wanted to talk about Interpol. I don’t blame her.

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?

Good questions. When do we get the answers?


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