I’m afraid that says what you think it says. The London Times Online is reporting that a British lawyer hired by the Bush Administration is arguing in a British court that the US has the right to kidnap anyone it decides has broken its laws without the dreary formality of extradition and haul them back to America to stand trial. (Via Libby at The Reaction.)
AMERICA has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States.
A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.
Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.
The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.
This is straight Empire-stuff, the Bush Admin treating allies like client states because Imperial Law (meaning Bush whims) trumps any little local laws that might impede Imperial desires. Allan Jones, the lawyer representing the Admin, claims the “right” to kidnap goes back to – tell me again the Bush template isn’t the Robber Baron 19th century, go ahead – bounty hunting laws written just after the Civil War, and that the SCOTUS, as recently as the early 1990’s, sanctioned it in the case of one Humberto Machain, a suspected Mexican drug dealer who was kidnapped by the DEA and flown back to Texas for trial.
Although there was an extradition treaty in place between America and Mexico at the time — as there currently is between the United States and Britain — the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that the Mexican had no legal remedy because of his abduction.
Jones replied that it was acceptable under American law to kidnap people if they were wanted for offences in America. “The United States does have a view about procuring people to its own shores which is not shared,” he said.
He said that if a person was kidnapped by the US authorities in another country and was brought back to face charges in America, no US court could rule that the abduction was illegal and free him: “If you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse — it goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s.”
Mr Justice Ouseley, a second judge, challenged Jones to be “honest about [his] position”.
Jones replied: “That is United States law.”
Justice Ouseley’s surprise nee skepticism is understandable. He obviously doesn’t realize that Bush/Cheney has turned the US into an autocratic Empire run by fascist ideologues and latent dictators for whom “the law” is a minor inconvenience defended only by wimps and losers. Or that their “unitary presidency” assumes the powers of an 18th century monarch in what used to be a democracy.He was obviously under the outdated impression that the US is a civilized nation of laws, not the banditocracy of a brigand state whose “foreign policy” consists largely of illegal military “interventions”, kidnapping, torture, extortion, and blackmail.
After this, I suspect he’s up to speed. Bush and Cheney have made America the Giant Economy-Size version of 19th century Berber Morocco. In those days, Teddy Roosevelt threatened to go to war over the kidnapping of Mrs Eden Pedecaris by a Berber sheik. Now we’re the ones doing the kidnapping.
Given the inch of “extraordinary” rendition, Bush/Cheney has now taken the mile of “whenever, wherever, and whoever we want to” rendition, and applied it to the entire planet. This is typical. Given the inch of “surveillance with warrant” handed over in the PATRIOT and FISA Acts, they take the mile of “surveillance on anyone without warrants or judicial oversight of any kind” sanctioned by no one. Given the inch of “habeus corpus suspension” in the case of “enemy combatants” by the MCA, they then take the mile of claiming that an enemy combatant is anyone they say it is, and that they can ignore court orders to the contrary.
I would say that their outrageous stance in a British courtroom arrogantly dismissing British law by claiming that only the US President’s personal “law” counts make us officially a rogue nation, compatriots with the likes of Burma, Libya, and the old South Africa. It’s time for Britain – and the rest of the world – to wake up. They’re up against an Empire and there’s no guarantee a Democratic president will do more than mitigate that prevailing doctrine. They better start figuring out how they want to handle an Imperial America because ignoring the new reality isn’t going to work forever.