Multiple RVO readers sent word via e-mail that President Obama had amended Executive Order 12425 on Dec. 16, more or less providing Interpol diplomatic immunity concerning what they can bring into the United States and protecting their archives and records from freedom of information (FOI) requests.
Jim already posted on the subject, but I’ll add some additional commentary. I’m not sure why Obama would do this, but some consider this a big deal since Interpol is the self-described largest police agency in the world, not a government with traveling diplomats and such. Their charter is to assist and coordinate cross-border investigations.
Some speculate the order simply makes it easier for Interpol investigators to travel quickly without visas to 188 member countries including the United States. The agency did issue special passports to about 1,000 investigators – including presumably United States law enforcement – and are expecting member countries to accept the travel documents without question since they would be used when the investigators are invited to come in.
A clarification on some misinformation out there. Although Interpol is a police agency and has investigators, they do not go from country to country arresting people. Police agencies within the country do the arresting, using information provided by other countries, coordinated by Interpol.
Obama’s amended Executive Order (EO) reads in part…
…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.
Here is the original EO released by President Reagan. Links embedded go over to external links provided by Wikisource. (I could not find the text of Reagan’s original EO)
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.
President Clinton removed the following in Sept. 1995.
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’’.
President Obama removed language including Section 2(c) which states (this is the section many question)…
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.
This basically means the Interpol investigators have diplomatic immunity (I think) and their investigative reports and other documents – including maybe individual profiles? – are private and can not be accessed by U.S. law enforcement or by FOI request. This section does not simply provide Interpol investigators easy access to the United States with their new passports.
Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 deal with custom duties, Social Security taxes, property taxes, income taxes and such.
- Could this be the first step for President Obama as he moves towards signing us up for the International Criminal Court and signing the Rome Statute?
- Is the United States accepting the new Interpol passports in leau of visas?
- Have any United States LEOs been provided Interpol passports, and if they have, will those United States agents and their documents be immune from search while in the United States?
And finally … why do bloggers have to spend days and days speculating on this stuff when all the administration has to do is tell us why they amended the EO? Oh yeah, Jake Tapper already asked twice without getting an answer. Hey, their in Hawaii baby!
Andrew McCarthy, our frequent guest on the big radio show, has a good write-up on National Review Online’s the Corner. Michelle Malkin, Pamela Gellar, and Ed Morrissey have also been writing on the subject.