Sunday, December 2, 2007

Imperial Hubris

Not the book (which is quite good), but the latest assertion of authority from the shrub administration:

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.

The admission will alarm the British business community after the case of the so-called NatWest Three, bankers who were extradited to America on fraud charges. More than a dozen other British executives, including senior managers at British Airways and BAE Systems, are under investigation by the US authorities and could face criminal charges in America.

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.

Got that? Shrub's law trumps international law and all previous extradition treaties. And they're actually putting it to the test:

The US government’s view emerged during a hearing involving Stanley Tollman, a former director of Chelsea football club and a friend of Baroness Thatcher, and his wife Beatrice.

The Tollmans, who control the Red Carnation hotel group and are resident in London, are wanted in America for bank fraud and tax evasion. They have been fighting extradition through the British courts.

During a hearing last month Lord Justice Moses, one of the Court of Appeal judges, asked Alun Jones QC, representing the US government, about its treatment of Gavin, Tollman’s nephew. Gavin Tollman was the subject of an attempted abduction during a visit to Canada in 2005.

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.

Sometimes it seems that shrub is trying to unite the world against us. I mean, last time I looked, the British were one of the few countries that we have good relations with. Pissing them off doesn't strike me as a good move.

How would America respond if another country (oh, say Germany) decided that they are entitled to abduct an American citizen (oh, say Donald Rumsfield) whom they accuse of a crime?

Or is shrub tacitly implying that America now rules the world?

Added: Cernig of The NewsHoggers adds this thought:

But the same administration has vigorously pursued immunity from prosecution for US citizens by other nations for crimes committed while in those nations. Such a double standard, fuelled by a view of American exceptionalism which draws its inspiration from past colonial powers (including, it must be admitted, Britain) gives a clear lie to administration supporters' claims of there being no intention for hegemonic dominance. Only the most blinkered "my country, right or wrong" zealots could argue otherwise.

British law, however, says that kidnapping is a crime with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The UK government should make it clear that charges will be brought against any US official authorising kidnapping under a purely American and outdated law - and that even if extradition is refused by the US then those charges will remain
open indefinitely. It should also make it clear that should the accused travel to another nation where the UK has an extradition treaty, Britain will ask for remand of the suspect to a British court for trial. Other nations should follow suit.

We live in a very strange time.

1 comment:

Mauigirl said...

Unbelievable the depths to which our administration will sink...