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INTERPOL Granted Diplomatic Immunity In the US 450

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the subcontracting-the-dirty-work dept.
ShakaUVM writes "A couple of weeks ago without any fanfare or notice in the media, President Obama granted INTERPOL full diplomatic immunity while conducting investigations on American soil. While INTERPOL has been allowed to operate in the US in the past, under an executive order by President Reagan, they've had to follow the same rules as the FBI, CIA, etc., while on American soil. This means, among other things, the new executive order makes INTERPOL immune to Freedom of Information Act requests and that INTERPOL agents cannot be punished for most any crimes they may commit. Hopefully the worst we'll see from this is INTERPOL agents ignoring their speeding tickets." Update: 01/05 02:57 GMT by KD : Reader davecb pointed out an ABC News blog that comes to pretty much the opposite conclusion as to the import of the executive order.
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INTERPOL Granted Diplomatic Immunity In the US

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  • by ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) * on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:36PM (#30648216)

    This country soverignty has been slowly eroded over the years. The founding father's effort is now all lost. Time to fight the 2nd Independence war in 2012.

  • Clever (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:41PM (#30648292)
    They spy on us with impunity and share the intelligence with our government. In return our government does the same for them.

    Both countries get to perform full-scale spying on their own citizens without violating any laws or causing an uproar.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:42PM (#30648308)
    Not quite sure this story got filed right. Nothing to do with our online rights... this has more to do with all our rights.
  • by d474 (695126) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:45PM (#30648354)
    Diplomatic Immunity doesn't mean they get to violate our laws, it just means they don't go to jail for violating our laws. If complaints start to pile up (thanks to the ACLU I'm sure) then they will loose their immunity.

    Right? Or am I acting like a sheeple?
  • by Zebra_X (13249) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:46PM (#30648360)

    This is really a change of a default assumption than freedom to do anything without penalty. If INTERPOL starts going crazy, it only takes a presidential signature to take this exception back.

    No one is taking this exception back, it was granted in the first place.

    The question might be why was this ever granted in the first place? Easy - the government wants to make it easier to hunt terrorists on U.S. soil or any other citizen not following the rules. This basically allows to the U.S. government to go and ask interpol to conduct unconstitutional activities on U.S. soil and report their findings. Clap, fail.

  • by NaughtyNimitz (763264) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:46PM (#30648368)

    By "this" i think you mean the US of A.
    What about the 'sovereignty' of other countries? Our founding tribes would run amok if they knew their ancestors would bow for the pressure of the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:47PM (#30648378)

    Because it is not a US government agency, Interpol has never been subject to FOIA requests, therefore this change does NOT make them "immune to Freedom of Information Act requests."

  • by Bazzargh (39195) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:48PM (#30648386)

    There's no such thing as an interpol agent. They delegate to national agencies (ie the DoJ) who do /not/ get immunity. What they do have is a bunch of committees and advisors, and a (shared) database of people 'of interest'.

    Somebody's been watching the man from UNCLE a few too many times

  • by saihung (19097) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:48PM (#30648396)

    And this is why you should not pretend to be a lawyer. Ready?

    Interpol has no police force. It conducts no investigations. It doesn't arrest anyone. As an international organization it was not subject to FOIA requests anyway, because it's not a department of the federal government.

    As a previous poster noted, this is NOT DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY. This is immunity from attachment of any property that Interpol may have in the USA. Any employees of Interpol, if any, stationed in the USA can and would still be arrested for crimes they commit. In summary, both the original submitter and basically every comment I've seen so far are not just wrong, they are comically wrong.

  • by iammani (1392285) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:52PM (#30648436)

    More seriously, remember INTERPOL actually has very little power - they're a coordination agency. They have no powers of arrest. They don't even DO investigations.

    Er, then why do these people actually need immunity?

  • by jjohnson (62583) on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:00PM (#30648556) Homepage

    Are you shitting me? Are you really so ignorant of 1) what Interpol is, and 2) what Obama signed that you're actually believing Alex Jones now?

    Obama granted Interpol the same diplomatic status as the International Pacific Halibut Commission. Interpol has no agents; they investigate no crimes and bring no charges. They're an information sharing/clearinghouse staffed by international bureaucrats, and nothing else.

    Now, go change your underwear, and quit listening to Glenn Beck, and to your coworker who repeats everything he says.

  • by tjstork (137384) <> on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:04PM (#30648616) Homepage Journal

    If George Bush would have signed the exact same executive order, this post would be modded +5, insightful, and with that said, the very people who are heading for the hills because Obama signed it would be trying to defend Bush in that onslaught.

    So really, all that is changed is that we substituted one guy for another, but the erosion of liberty continues at pretty much the same or even accelerated pace.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:05PM (#30648620)

    Somebody's been watching the man from UNCLE a few too many times

    You can *never* watch the Man from UNCLE too many times.

    Ah, frogmen emerging from wells in Iowa . . .

    Black and white images of THRUSH villains with no faces, who look like something out of a bizarre Magritte painting.

    . . . and gentlemen agents in nicely dressed suits with skinny ties . . .

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:05PM (#30648628) Homepage

    How fucking classic is it that the submitter linked the words "granted INTERPOL full diplomatic immunity" to an article that explicitly states in caps and everything that this is NOT a granting of diplomatic immunity?

    According to the article titled "Just What Did President Obama's Executive Order regarding INTERPOL Do?", what it didn't do is grant diplomatic immunity, and what it did do is grant a limited amount of immunity mostly related to taxes and document seizure. The idea seems to be to to allow international organizations like Red Cross, IAEA, IMF, and now INTERPOL to do their work without participating nations worrying that the U.S. will spy on them by reading these organization's records.

    Now I'm not sure I like granting a police force any more immunity of any kind, but that's a hell of a lot less than diplomatic immunity and not as hard to revoke. Maybe other countries were getting concerned about the U.S.'s nosiness and this will enhance international cooperation. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I do know the summary was classic bullshit.

  • I CRY FOUL! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mage... (18148) on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:50PM (#30649226)
    Wow, I am astonished at such a Troll-Baiting headline on Slashdot. This executive order did not grant diplomatic immunity to INTERPOL. What it did do was:
    • Allow their records to be protected from search and seizure, unless specifically allowed by the President. Section 2(c)
    • They don't have to pay customs duties or import taxes on their belongings. Section 3
    • They don't have to pay income taxes, for either their employees, or their investments. Section 4
    • They don't have to pay Social Security taxes. Section 5
    • They don't have to pay property taxes. Section 6

    As for FOIA, they were never bound by the FOIA, since they are not a part of the US Government. If you tried to sue them and use discovery to gain access to their records, that was not possible since they were already covered by Section 2(b), which protects them from judicial processes.

  • "Technically"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:05PM (#30649442)

    Technically they were already immune? That's a rather important technicality ... because you explicitly blamed Obama for giving them immunity from prosecution. In actuality 12425 is the executive order which gave them that ... the one with Ronald Reagan's signature below it.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:09PM (#30649488) Homepage

    Because the Slashdot editors mangled my entry. There was no link to the ABC News article in what I submitted, but I did have a link to the story on unpaid UN parking tickets.

    Ah, so a slashdot editor actually managed to improve a submission by linking to accurate information? I'm honestly shocked.

    What really irks me is that this actually is a granting of full diplomatic immunity. If you go through the list of all the possible options for diplomatic immunity (it comes in different kinds), INTERPOL now has them all. So, yeah, I called it full diplomatic immunity.

    No, it isn't, as your own links state.

    Either you don't understand the difference between "immune to prosecution" and "immune to prosecution for official acts", or you don't understand what INTERPOL's official business is in the U.S. Or you somehow think "immunity for some actions" is the same as "full" immunity.

    FULL diplomatic immunity means free from prosecution for any and all acts.

    Let me spell it out for you.

    If I was the French Ambassador to the U.S., and I was caught in L.A. snorting cocaine from from the ass crack of a dead 12 year old boy who I'd just raped and killed (not necessarily in that order), then the worst that the U.S. or local governments could do to to me would be to kick me out of the country -- unless of course France revoked my immunity, which you can certainly imagine happening in this case, but you get my point.

    Now if I were an employee of INTERPOL, I would be prosecutable under U.S. and local law. As in NOT full immunity.

    Unless you can explain how rape, murder, and drug use are official actions,

    And you know what INTERPOL's official business is in the U.S.? Handing information provided by other nations' police forces over to U.S. police forces. That's it. That doesn't cover a very wide variety of actions, thus doesn't provide immunity for a very wide variety of actions, and thus only someone either completely foolish or deliberately stirring shit would call that "full immunity".

    If you weren't wrong, I'd agree with you.

    If you were any judge of right and wrong, you wouldn't have written such a shitty summary to begin with.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:32PM (#30649702) Homepage

    As WP and the law itself clearly states, agents of International Organizations are immune from prosecution for official acts only.

    That is nothing like "full diplomatic immunity", which is immunity from all prosecution.

    INTERPOL's official business in the U.S. is one of information coordinator between the police forces of various nations, NOT anything related to actual investigation or law enforcement. They do not arrest. They do not investigate.

    So to answer the salient question raised by the summary: Can INTERPOL agents now violate due process or other Constitutional protections within the United States with impunity, is a big fucking NO because any such action would not be an official act and thus not protected.

  • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:41PM (#30649780) Homepage Journal

    >>INTERPOL's official business in the U.S. is one of information coordinator between the police forces of various nations, NOT anything related to actual investigation or law enforcement. They do not arrest. They do not investigate.

    Go to and read up a bit. They do more than coordinate agencies. My previous question was rhetorical - they actually do all of those things.

    >>Can INTERPOL agents now violate due process or other Constitutional protections within the United States with impunity, is a big fucking NO because any such action would not be an official act and thus not protected.

    You're confusing legal-under-American-law acts and acts-done-as-part-of-their-job acts, which may or may not be the same thing.

    If you think about all the espionage that has gone on under the umbrella of diplomatic immunity, you'll see where your error lies.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:51PM (#30649876) Homepage

    By full immunity, I meant they have attained some form of immunity in all six categories of diplomatic immunity.

    So by "full" immunity, you meant "partial" immunity in some categories.

    Yeah, that's not bullshit. It's blatant bullshit.

    Huh, I guess they don't maintained databases of criminals, child abusers, ensure secure communications between police agencies, help track down fugitives, assume crisis management of developing situations, or police training.

    Yes, they're an information coordinator. They don't actually track down fugitives, they pass information from one nation's police force to another so that they can track down fugitives. They assist communication between police agencies. Yes. That's all they do.

    Any actual investigation or arrest performed by a law enforcement agent, even if that agent is assigned as a representative to INTERPOL (i.e. has the privileges mentioned), would not be protected because it would not be official INTERPOL business. INTERPOL does not have that authority.

    Do you even know what you're talking about, or do you just parrot what you read in other comments?

    Why don't you learn WTF you're talking about [], eh? Notice how even their INTERPOL Response Teams [] (under Operational police support services) only deals with providing information and advice? Not actual law enforcement activity?

    Get a clue.

  • by sg_oneill (159032) on Monday January 04, 2010 @09:59PM (#30649948)

    Yep, and that immunity isn't going to impede on your rights in any substantial way anyway. No matter what the whitehouse does, you've still got the full protections of the courts in a manner that the constitution guarantees. If stuff is used against you in a trial, you CAN challenge how it was obtained, if wiretaps happen, you CAN assert your constitutional rights to privacy, and if one of these suits tries and grabs you (They can't) you can damn well have them charged on deprivation of liberty if they havent gone through all the due processes to get a judge to agree on terms compatible with American justice.

    Generally its pretty unlikely an American will ever face an international court for stuff done at home, the US govt has been adamant on that, but even if you did, the european courts have a very modern set of evidence laws that make the US ones look draconian. (Ie afaik, American courts seem to permit entrapment by undercover agents for some reason)

    I'd not be too worried about this, its just the right blowing fear trumpets again. Where where these people when Bush was rolling out the patriot act anyway?

  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (avitlaocin)> on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:18PM (#30650146) Journal

    It's an international organization.

  • by gumbi west (610122) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:34PM (#30650266) Journal
    The bizarre world you suggest where diplomatic immunity grants you the right to snatch and grab others obviously doesn't exist. Otherwise, why use INTERPOL? Why not just get a diplomat from another country to do it?
  • by gumbi west (610122) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:35PM (#30650276) Journal
    by this logic, why not just use the military, after all NATO has diplomatic immunity and our forces are part of NATO. This article is just tinfoil hat wearing.
  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (avitlaocin)> on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:45PM (#30650408) Journal

    Almost all of what Interpol does is send info around. So if it sends info to the US, it's for the US DOJ. When it's in the DOJ's hands, it's in the DoJ's hands, and it's not magically tainted as immune to laws or something just because it was sent through Interpol -- that's just retarded.

    No, what it protects is that if information sent by Interpol to a third member transits through the US for some reason (say, an Interpol employee or, more likely, a member states' delegate transits through the US with a bag of papers) it can't be seized. Not because Interpol wants to hide things from the US (although I can't stop you from believing that) but because it could be used to harass the organization (think subpoena granted by some random judge), or, more likely, because security people in airports could want to have a look at it, and they shouldn't have to be trusted with that info.

  • by narcberry (1328009) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:46PM (#30650420) Journal

    Interpol is international, I know in the name right, so why would they care what ANY country asks them to do?

    Well maybe because:
    1. The U.S. is a member nation
    2. The U.S. pays the bills (like other member nations)
    3. The secretary general of interpol is an American citizen, once of the U.S. Treasury. Citizenship should be enough to suggest interest in the U.S. but throw in his treasury and government ties and now you have all sort of good conspiracy theories on top.

    Like any org, self preservation is goal #1. Who do you think the interpol agents operating on american soil will be working for, if not the country that preserves their existence (on our soil)?

  • by quanticle (843097) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:52PM (#30650466) Homepage

    Not necessarily. If you look at the quote, it states, "The NCB is the designated contact point for the General Secratariat, regional offices and other member countries..." There's nothing there that says that the officers at the NCB work for Interpol. In fact, most likely, they don't.

    To analogize, Interpol does for warrants what a hub does for network packets. It handles the logistics of ensuring that all member nations of Interpol receive the warrant for an international fugitive. In this analogy, the NCB is like the host computer's network card. It takes the warrant from Interpol and ensures that the law enforcement agencies within the host nation know who to look for. Just as your network card is separate from the hub that sends the packet, the NCB isn't part of Interpol.

  • by gumbi west (610122) on Monday January 04, 2010 @11:00PM (#30650518) Journal
    This is just fruity. By this argument, the USSR could have just gone around raiding houses in the 1960s. First of all, diplomats can be ejected from the country, if INTERPOL started violating people's rights, this is what would happen. Second of all, people with diplomatic immunity are not free from prosecution if their home country allows the prosecution or in their home country. Third of all, evidence collected to be used against you must be collected according to evidence standards.

    This is major tinfoilhatism on your part.

  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (avitlaocin)> on Monday January 04, 2010 @11:07PM (#30650574) Journal

    The two things you quote mean the same thing.

    You're quibbling over the meaning of "actual investigation". Interpol does not perform investigations. They collate the information resulting from investigation. I don't know how it could be clearer. Want an analogy? Google Maps does not make maps nor do they operate satellites. They collect maps and satellite pictures and display them. Want a car analogy? Ok. Ebay is not involved in car making. However you can buy a car on eBay. But they won't even deliver it to you. But you can use their services to buy a car. OMFG you just said they're not involved in making cars, yet they're making cars available!

  • by Joren (312641) on Monday January 04, 2010 @11:08PM (#30650576) Homepage
    That which you quoted is section 2b. This was *already* given to them by the original order as signed by Ronald Reagan. Obama isn't granting them the rights under 2b, because Interpol already had them all along and nobody noticed. Please see the original order: Executive Order 12425 []. Notice that 2b is not listed in the "exceptions", meaning that they have the rights under 2b.
  • Re:"Technically"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by humphrm (18130) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @12:16AM (#30651084) Homepage

    Apology not accepted. It's a huge bias and polarizes the entire debate. The courts, legislature, and president can still order seizure of files. Every American has access to this redress through their congressperson, senator, and federal courts.

    So I guess it just boils down to Interpol not paying taxes that you're so pissed off about.

  • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @01:24AM (#30651524) Homepage Journal

    They hold international crime databases, among other things. If you'd actually read up on it, there's a whole list of things they do, including training, crisis response, secure international police communications, etc.

    Why is this problematic? Let's say, for example, you're wrongly added to a list of international child molesters, and when you get to Thailand, they arrest you. You ask to see the database that holds your name. Right here, I'd imagine there would normally be no problem. But if they decide to pull a Bush (see - I'm nonpartisan) and say that everything is a secret, there is shit-all you can do, since the database is inviolate, and courts cannot compel a search or seizure, or even subpoena their staff members.

    Also, the bit about secure communications is of interest to me, since it was a big part of what Sam Knott was all about later in his life. Again, transparency is a good thing here.

  • by The Famous Druid (89404) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @02:54AM (#30651990)
    ...get in the way of a paranoid panic attack.

    Don't the tinfoil-hat brigade even bother to read articles before deciding they confirm their worst nightmares?

  • by Bananenrepublik (49759) on Tuesday January 05, 2010 @07:33AM (#30653396)

    No, I actually like reading right-wing stuff. As an intellectual challenge, as in "are my beliefs consistent enough, should I change them?". The linked-to article is, as I pointed out, nothing but hypotheses, strawmans and unfounded Obama-bashing. That's a very different kind of article, not a challenge but merely a waste of time.

    Whether the NYT is left-leaning or not (and as a European I'd say it's far off to the right, even though it may be a leftie publication from the POV of someone in North Dakota who only listens to Rush Limbaugh) doesn't matter in this context, because they were reporting the facts concerning this story and that's why I quoted them. Had my google turned up a story on Newsmax, I would have quoted it instead.

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