On December 16th, 2009 President Barack Obama wrote into existence an amendment to Executive Order 12425, which was written by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 and had been subsequently amended by President Bill Clinton in 1996, by way of Executive Order 12971 .
Okay – no, not really.
In order to make any sense of this we first have to acknowledge that all of the Executive Orders referenced above were really ‘amendments’ of one sort or another – including Reagan’s – all in reference to the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA) of 1945, the purpose of which was to provide a diplomatic vehicle (by way of executive order) “to extend certain privileges, exemptions, and immunities to international organizations and to the officers and employees thereof, and for other purposes.”
Bear in mind that this was immediately following The Great War, when everyone in the world was trying to get regular international trade and communications back on track and get back to their lives.
Following the 1981 case of Steinberg v International Criminal Police Organization, where the District of Columbia Federal Appellate Court upheld its jurisdiction over Interpol because of doubts about the status of Interpol as an International Organization and because it had not yet had specific IOIA immunities conferred upon it,… as well as in an apparent move to demonstrate better international cooperation and perhaps grant an extra level of legitimacy following their time-of-dark-associations, in 1983 Ronald Reagan used his Presidential Executive-Order power to grant IOIA-status to INTERPOL.
Because of the nature of INTERPOL’s structure “Each INTERPOL member country (including the US – Ron) maintains a National Central Bureau staffed by national law enforcement officers. The NCB is the designated contact point for the General Secretariat, regional offices and other member countries requiring assistance with overseas investigations and the location and apprehension of fugitives.”
- so what you have are effectively American Law Enforcement agents – working within the US – with all associated local LE rights and privileges … but working for INTERPOL.
Mindful of both the legal (see: taxation) conflicts and the potential for abuse inherent in granting various ‘international immunities’ to a law enforcement agency existing and possessed of the freedom to operate within the US, President Reagan built into Executive Order 12425, the following limitations:
“…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 ensured that, while INTERPOL would be an officially-recognized International Organization, local INTERPOL agents & operations would not be granted Immunity from US law under those sections, to wit:
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.”
The portions of Section 2(d) relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes – “Insofar as concerns customs duties and internal-revenue taxes imposed upon or by reason of importation, and the procedures in connection therewith… the privileges, exemptions, and immunities to which international organizations shall be entitled shall be those accorded under similar circumstances to foreign governments.”
And Section 3 relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes – “…the baggage and effects of alien officers and employees of international organizations, or of aliens designated by foreign governments to serve as their representatives in or to such organizations, or of the families, suites, and servants of such officers, employees, or representatives shall be admitted (when imported in connection with the arrival of the owner) free of customs duties and free of internal revenue taxes imposed upon or by reason of importation.”
Sections 4&5 – These address the minutia of exemptions/amendments to the US Tax code for the purpose of exempting non-US-citizens, working for a recognized foreign organization, from taxation or Social Security payments on gross income, either from US investments or job/wages.
(It’s long, just trust me on this…or go read it from the link. – Ron)
…and Section 6 – “International organizations shall be exempt from all property taxes imposed by, or under the authority of, any Act of Congress, including such Acts as are applicable solely to the District of Columbia or the Territories.”
Okay, now stop – take a deep breath – and say to yourself ‘Those are the immunities/exemptions that Reagan chose NOT to extend to INTERPOL.’
- Immunity from search and confiscation
- Immunity/exemption from customs/importation taxes
- Immunity from income taxes
In 1995 President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 12971, which amended President Reagan’s 12425, to the extent that :
”…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.”
- Became –
”…conferred by the International Organizations Immunities Act; except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act.”
- which granted recognized International Organization INTERPOL exemption from customs-duties and importation taxes under the IOIA.
And there it sat for the next 15 years – until December 16th, 2009 – when President Barack Obama drew up Executive Order 13524 , which states:
“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.”
Thereby sweeping away those checks and protections originally placed by Ronald Reagan (to whom President Obama has likened himself on any number of occasions).
Now, while I believe that the tax exemptions now granted to employees of INTERPOL in the US will be a sources of debate, division and litigation for years to come, the vast majority of what you’re going to read on the blogs for the foreseeable future (and the part with the greatest potential for abuse) concerns the granting of immunity/exemption under “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.”
Keeping in mind that INTERPOL is the ONLY law enforcement agency recognized under the IOIA, let’s restate that sentence, the way Barack Obama intended in his Executive Order:
‘Property and assets of INTERPOL, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, unless INTERPOL decides otherwise, and from confiscation. The archives of INTERPOL shall be inviolable.’
Consider what exists now:
An International Law Enforcement Agency…
That uses US Law Enforcement Officers and their US police powers…
That is beholden ONLY to their own multi-national General Assembly and Executive Committee (on which the US has no representation)…
And regularly acts on behalf of the International Criminal Court (with which Presidents Clinton and Bush have both declined to participate)
…and the records, files, evidence, etc., etc of that Law Enforcement Agency….
- Are now completely beyond the reach of US Law – search, seizure, subpoena, Freedom of Information Act – NONE of it now applies to the operational records of INTERPOL operating in the US.
Which (as ever) leads us to the question of ‘Why?’
Why would Barack Obama suddenly decide to use an otherwise obscure, 26-year-old Order to place an international law enforcement agency above-and-beyond US Law?
The answer is plain to anyone listening – consider:
- Barack Obama’s first year in Office - a great deal of it spent travelling the world, apologizing for America’s tendency to be …American.
- Barack Obama’s stated support for CIFTA – a proposed treaty I’ve written about before, that would erode the sovereignty of US Law.
- Barack Obama’s desire to subject the US to the rule of “international law” under the ICC - which would give that body the authority to try Americans in instances where the US court system has declined to do so
Barack Obama has, time and time again, demonstrated his desire to see American sovereignty capitulate to some utopian vision of a ‘world-government’ – to move the US from the position of Exceptional World Leader to a go-along-to-get-along, one-among-many ‘World Citizen’ – to bend America’s knee in apology for what he sees as our ‘sins’ and ‘crimes’ – has even entertained the notion of putting the prior administration on trial to ingratiate himself to world leaders who have long held America in contempt for her actions, while being simultaneously unwilling to commit to any actions themselves.
His intentions to subject the US to ‘international authority’ are clear – he has spoken them over and over.
How better to move toward his goal, than to start by place the enforcement-arm of that ‘international authority’ beyond the reach and accounting of US Law – and then offer up America to the body that directs them?