Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Interpol: The International Enforcement Arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Andy McCarthy asks an important question about President Obama’s notorious order to grant immunity to agents of Interpol: “Why Does Interpol Need Immunity from American Law?”

Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations of the Constitution and federal law that protect the liberty and privacy of Americans is what prevents law-enforcement and its controlling government authority from becoming tyrannical.

On Wednesday, however, for no apparent reason, President Obama issued an executive order removing the Reagan limitations. That is, Interpol’s property and assets are no longer subject to search and confiscation, and its archives are now considered inviolable. This international police force (whose U.S. headquarters is in the Justice Department in Washington) will be unrestrained by the U.S. Constitution and American law while it operates in the United States and affects both Americans and American interests outside the United States.

Interpol works closely with international tribunals (such as the International Criminal Court — which the United States has refused to join because of its sovereignty-surrendering provisions, though top Obama officials want us in it). It also works closely with foreign courts and law-enforcement authorities (such as those in Europe that are investigating former Bush administration officials for purported war crimes — i.e., for actions taken in America’s defense).

Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies?

Why, indeed?

Here’s one possible explanation: Interpol is acting as the international enforcement arm of the terrorist regime known as the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Agents for the mullahs would not enjoy the esteem and confidence of the average American citizen (or law enforcement officer), so granting them immunity is a necessary step that will allow them to operate efficiently and effectively on American territory. The Obama administration has been doing its best to suck up to Tehran, and the immunization of Interpol looks to be part and parcel of the program.

According to The Local:

Iran Puts Ten Swedes on Interpol Wanted List
- - - - - - - - -
Ten Swedes of Iranian descent are named on Interpol’s list of criminals wanted for terrorism and international organized crime.

The men, all of whom hail from Iran’s Kurdistan province, came to Sweden as political refugees twenty years ago, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.

Despite being active critics of the Iranian regime for more than thirty years, the men’s names and pictures only recently appeared on Interpol’s list of wanted fugitives, following a request from Iran.

“I was obviously surprised that Interpol would simply describe us using the same words as the Iranian police. It seems very strange to me,” Khaled Haji Mohammadi, one of the men now labeled as a fugitive by Interpol, told The Local.

Mohammadi is one of twelve members of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran — Hekmatist whose names were posted on the Interpol list.

“I don’t know what sort of political or economic agreement Iran may have with Interpol, but it’s very surprising that Interpol would abide by the demands of a request from a regime that has executed so many of its critics.”

Mohammadi doesn’t deny he has long been critical of the Islamic regime in Iran, which he claims has imprisoned and killed many fellow activists in the years since he left the country to seek political asylum in Sweden.

“I’m used to being harassed and criticized by the Islamic regime in Iran,” he said.

But Interpol’s decision to agree to Iran’s request to list him and his colleagues as organized criminals and terrorists left him puzzled.

While Mohammadi has no plans to back down from supporting human and workers’ rights in Iran, he remains concerned that by enlisting a respected international policing body, Iran may add legitimacy to its claims.

“Obviously it’s a problem because it’s Interpol,” he said.

“No one cares what Iran says, but if it’s on Interpol, that’s something different.”

Mohammadi has long been in the crosshairs of the Iranian authorities, having supported a number of pro-human rights campaigns over the years, most recently spearheading a campaign to support student demonstrators who clashed with authorities in 2007.

He suspects that the regime in Iran, under mounting pressure from demonstrators within the country, sees Interpol warrants as a new avenue for silencing its critics.

“One way they think they can stop demonstrations in Iran is to target well known activists,” Mohammadi explained.

“If the Iranian regime succeeds in doing something against such popular rights activists, then perhaps the people fighting for freedom in Iran will get scared.”

He also wondered why Iran chose him and his colleagues to appear on Interpol’s wanted list.

“I’m not exactly sure why they chose us here in Sweden. There are critics of the regime in Iran in a number of western countries,” he said.

“I guess they had to start somewhere.”

If Iran succeeds in extraditing any of the men currently listed on Interpol’s list, Mohammadi fears it may embolden the regime to put more names up the list.

“At this point, Interpol is responsible for what happens next,” he said, adding that he remains skeptical that any extraditions will actually take place

“I think people and authorities around the world are smarter than that,” he said.

So far Swedish authorities have not acted on the warrants.

According to chief public prosecutor Tomas Lindstrand, simply issuing a warrant isn’t enough to justify launching an investigation, explaining that his office would only get involved if Swedish police believe the country issuing the warrant has enough evidence to prove the case is worth pursuing.

“Then we’ll see what the Iranians want. It’s usually the case that to get people extradited to sue them, or in a request for legal assistance, that we question the people involved and so on,” he told DN.

Arezo Julie Jacobsson, a lawyer leading efforts to help Mohammadi and his colleagues clear their names, also believed Iran’s decision to issue warrants was a scare tactic meant to silence its critics.

She too was critical of Interpol for publishing the men’s names at Iran’s request and vowed to explore all available legal options to have the names removed.

“They feel offended and want to do everything they can to fix this,” she told DN.

Mohammadi said it would likely “take some time” but is hopeful his name will eventually be removed from the Interpol wanted list.

In the meantime, he has no plans for cutting back on his efforts supporting Iranian activists fighting for their rights.

“I’ve been active and will continue to be active defending human rights in Iran,” he said.

In an open letter to Interpol dated December 21st, the Worker-Communist Party of Iran — Hekmatist said it was shocked by the inclusion on Interpol’s list of members who were “all veteran and popular political activists and respected figures within the Iranian opposition movement.

“They are all recognised political refugees and are engaged in open, public and transparent political activities against the Iranian government. […] We believe you should remove this list and your call immediately,” the party wrote.

Hat tips: Diana West, C. Cantoni.


Winston said...

Shame on Obama for siding with the Iranian regime