Sunday, December 02, 2007

US rendition not just for terrorists

By Libby Spencer

I didn't think it was possible to be more stunned by the hubris of this White House than I have been up to now. I was wrong. This development leaves me almost speechless. Our government has now claimed the right to kidnap any citizen, of any country, from anywhere in the world if Washington suspects them of commiting a crime. No point in wasting time with treaties and 'quaint' conventions like legal extradition, when they can cut out the middleman and just snatch their designated bad person off the street.

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. [...]

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.

Legal experts confirmed this weekend that America viewed extradition as just one way of getting foreign suspects back to face trial. Rendition, or kidnapping, dates back to 19th-century bounty hunting and Washington believes it is still legitimate. [...]

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.”

Oh good, the turn back civilization to the days of the 'wild West' rationale. I suppose they would like to bring back the genocide of native Americans, lynchings and using duels as accepted manner to settle differences too.

Cernig has reaction from the UK and Heretik adds his inimitable commentary along with the usual brilliant photoshop. Meanwhile, Radley reminds us that this is already happening.

I realize the first thing people think of with extraordinary rendition is terrorism, and getting terror suspects out of countries with unfriendly governments. But don’t forget, this is the same administration that’s snatching up the foreign executives of online gambling companies at airports, then trying and imprisoning them, despite the fact that online gambling is perfectly legal in the countries where they operate, and where they are citizens.

Seems to be the only difference between this policy and terrorist kidnappings in Iraq is that the administration hasn't found a way to justify beheadings as an appropriate 'alternative punishment' -- yet.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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