Monday, December 28, 2009

Is Interpol Now Immune from Restraint in the US?

The Web is screaming.

Everywhere you look, they're screaming about a new Executive Order, that supposedly gives INTERPOL – the international police organization once headed by Heinrich Himmler – TOTAL IMMUNITY to operate within the United States, free from let or hindrance by the FBI or from any Federal or State Court. The acts of their agents, they say, are absolutely diplomatically immune; their records, inviolate and unsearchable (and un-subpoena-able!), their property free from search, and everyone employed by the organization is now exempt from all Federal income tax, Social Security, or property taxation.

Sounds like tinfoil-hat territory, right?

There's one little problem with this story.

It appears to be entirely true.

ONE UPON A TIME, in 1983, President Ronald Reagan gave the following order authorizing INTERPOL to operate in the United States as an International Organization, however requiring that it be subjected to certain restrictions: their records, like any law enforcement agency, would be subjected to search and review under certain circumstances; income of INTERPOL employees were taxable for both income tax and Social Security taxes; they were subject to our laws and not granted diplomatic immunity for their acts. In short, they were under the same restrictions as the FBI, ATF, Secret Service, or other Federal law enforcement agency His order reads like this (boldface for emphasis).

Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983
International Criminal Police
Organizations

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.

Ronald Reagan
In 1995, certain amendments were made to the order, stating that all physical property of INTERPOL in the United States was exempted from all taxation to the same extent that our diplomatic property is exempt. Furthermore, their agents and official communications obtained diplomatic immunity (and thus are exempt from our laws).

Executive Order 12971 of September 15, 1995
Amendment to Executive Order
No. 12425

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities upon the International Criminal Police Organization (‘‘INTERPOL’’) it is hereby ordered that Executive Order No. 12425 be amended by deleting, in the first sentence, the words ‘‘the portions of Section 2(d) and’’ and the words ‘‘relating to customs duties and federal internal-revenue importation taxes’’.

William J. Clinton
Finally, most disturbingly, the President of the United States last week stripped away all protections of the American people from the actions of INTERPOL by granting them full diplomatic immunity, full inviolability of their records and complete immunity from search or seizure, even in the case of law enforcement investigation by another law enforcement agency (like, oh, the FBI).

Executive Order 13524 of December 16, 2009

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.

Barack Obama

Therefore Presidential Order 12425 now reads as follows:

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. 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.

Which means that INTERPOL now has privileges and immunities as an International Organization with the following new (or in the case of the un-italicized text, Clinton-era) immunities:

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.

INTERPOL was previously excluded from all of these immunities under the International Organizations Immunities Act. They paid taxes; they were not personally inviolate; their records were not inviolate; their records could be seized, searched and, when necessary, subpoenaed; and their employees were taxed for income, Social Security, and property taxes.

No longer.

Let's examine, section by section, Section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (59 Stat. 669, 22 U.S.C. 288), which can be found at this link.

59 Stat. 669, §2c

Property and assets of international organizations wheresoever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search unless such immunity be expressly waived and [be free] from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable.


[Translation: If INTERPOL violates our laws we can't search or seize their "inviolable" records AND NO COURT CAN SUBPOENA THEM.]

59 Stat. 669, §2d

Insofar as concerns customs duties and international revenue taxes imposed upon or by reason of importation, and the procedures in connection therewith; the registration of foreign agents, and the treatment of official communications, the privileges, exemptions and immunities to which international organizations shall be entitled shall be those accorded under similar circumstances to foreign governments.

[TRANSLATION: All physical property of INTERPOL in the United States is exempt from all taxation to the same extent that our diplomatic property is exempt. Furthermore, their agents and official communications have diplomatic immunity and thus are exempt from our laws. This is a Clinton era change.]

59 Stat. 669, §3

Pursuant to regulations prescribed by the Commissioner of Customs with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, 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 their families, suites and servants of such officers, employees, or representatives shall be admitted ... free of customs duties and free of internal revenue taxes imposed upon or by reason of importation (this italicized text was a Clinton era change).
[TRANSLATION: Customs can't search any property or baggage belonging to INTERPOL, any employee or servant of INTERPOL, or any members of their families.]

59 Stat. 669, §4
(Omitted; long passage on the terms of the Internal Revenue Act.)
[TRANSLATION: up: INTERPOL employees, servants or agents don't have to pay federal income taxes on their wages while working in the United States.]

59 Stat. 669, §5
(Omitted; long passage on Social Security Act.)
[TRANSLATION: Long passage; I'll sum up: INTERPOL employees, servants or agents don't have to pay SOCIAL SECURITY taxes while working in the United States.]

59 Stat. 669, §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.
[TRANSLATION: None needed; they're not subject to property tax.]

I hesitate to sound like an end-of-the-worlder or a tinfoil hat-wearer, but ladies and gentlemen, .... to use Law French, this Presidential Order is... ahem...

A. Very. Bad. Move.

Or worse.

They want to make a former SS controlled secret police force diplomatically immune, exempt from search or seizure or subpoena, and all its employees free from any and all taxation?

Please, Mr. President, what are you thinking?

ADDENDUM

Turns out that this is NOT-NOT-NOT tinfoil-hat territory.

Even National Review sees this as a problem.

Money graf:

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?


WHY, INDEED.

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