Sunday, December 02, 2007

Extradition Treaties Be Damned

The Bush administration has now asserted a unilateral right to kidnap anyone from any country it wants, whether or not there is an extradition treaty in place:

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.

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.

Naturally, this right does not work in reverse:
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.

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