Barack Obama and Interpol

The other day, the most transparent administration ever did something very secretive and very bizarre:  without any fanfare, President Obama signed an Executive Order giving Interpol freedom to operate within United States borders.  Oh, yes, there was an announcement — of sorts.  The following is the press release that went out:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
December 17, 2009

Executive Order — Amending Executive Order 12425

– – – – – – –

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. 288), and in order to extend the appropriate privileges, exemptions, and immunities to the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12425 of June 16, 1983, as amended, is further amended by deleting from the first sentence the words “except those provided by Section 2(c), Section 3, Section 4, Section 5, and Section 6 of that Act” and the semicolon that immediately precedes them.


If you’re the ordinary reporter, who couldn’t care less what Obama does because everything he does is wonderful, your reaction to that dry and confusing little statement is going to be to ignore it — and that’s precisely what the media did. Some bloggers, though, were paying attention. Pierre Legrand, at the Pink Flamingo Room for one.  If he hadn’t raised the issue, I wouldn’t have known about it.

But now, people are paying attention.  Terresa, at NoisyRoom, has compiled a massive post with tons of information about the President’s little executive order.  Here’s what I’ve been able to figure out….

The order exempts Interpol from any oversight by America — even when it’s operating on American soil.  It is completely immune from American search and seizure laws.  It’s data cannot be subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.  Interpol, in other words, has gone from being an offshore information repository to which American and European law enforcement officials can have access, to being a freely operating investigation agency on US shores, with no US oversight.

Please check out Terresa’s data.  It’s got interesting stuff, such as the Interpol/Nazi connection, the “what’s in it for Obama” line of reasoning, and general information about what this means.  It may be nothing or it may be something.  The one thing we do know is that our transparent administration, in the dark of night, gave an international police organization absolute freedom to operate within our borders and he’d better have a damn good explanation for doing so.

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  • Mike Devx

    Book says,
    > The order exempts Interpol from any oversight by America — even when it’s operating on American soil.  […]  Interpol, in other words, [is] a freely operating investigation agency on US shores, with no US oversight.

    Does this strike anyone else as traitorous, the way it does me?  What is the difference between Interpol as an investigative agency, operating with no American oversight, and a foreign military force, operating with no American oversight?

    Surely Congress ought to have some kind of opinion on the matter – and take it to the Supreme Court?  What about any State in which such agents might be found?  I’d arrest them and provoke a clash with the Federal Executive Branch – and again take it to the Supreme Court.

    And… where’s our oh-so-wonderful Mainstream Media?

  • Ymarsakar

    He can use this in prosecutions against Khalid or against internal dissidents, without using Executive forces, local police, or Congressional oversight.

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  • Mike Devx

    The Supreme Court, for all the recent decades of travesty, does still retain its proper function.
    I can’t see any of the conservatives accepting this executive order.   Accept this executive order, allowing a foreign investigate force carte blanche to investigate Americans as they please… and we may as well have to quarter them in our homes during the investigation.  That’s four votes.
    I can’t much see Kennedy liking it either.
    Now to the libs.  Yes, they’re internationalist to the core.  But they also worship our freedoms, and despite this being a Democrat President perpetating this outrage, I’d expect a split.
    7-2 decision against Obama, The Chosen Tyrant One.  Don’t Tread On Me!

  • Ymarsakar

    They don’t worship ‘our’ freedoms. They worship their freedom to exploit and destroy.

  • BrianE

    What is it exactly about Barack Obama that Nate Henthoff fears?
    “I try to avoid hyperbole, but I think Obama is possibly the most dangerous and destructive president we have ever had.”—Nat Hentoff
    He is certainly no fan of George Bush, whom he accuses of vastly expanding the NSA ability to spy on Americans. But he pulled no punches in his evaluation that Obama may be even more of a threat given his lack of core principles.
    Clearly Henthoff is fearful of a NSA whose powers are immense and could potentially be misused by a President. The left saw this threat in Bush. But for his failings Bush respected the constitution (ignoring the left’s ranting about his abuses). It is the left, who see the constitution as a Times Square reader board that Americans should be truly fearful of.
    Is this seemingly obscure presidential order something Henthoff was alluding to in declaring Obama the most dangerous president in American history?

  • BrianE

    Steve Shippert and Clyde Middleton have raised the questions that immediately came to mind. Is this the first step to making the ICC sovereign over our military and our citizens? The left’s dream trial would be George Bush at the bar before the ICC. This is one small step toward that. The question needs to be answered—does Interpol have arrest authority, and even if it doesn’t, would this give them a wink and a nod authority were they to engage in rendition style arrests (but without the assistance of the host country). It’s very unlikely a “high value target” like Bush would be successfully spirited out of the country, but how about a Rumsfeld or even lower level administration official who doesn’t have lifetime Secret Service protection?
    I don’t want to be a conspiracist, and the leftist media would like nothing better than to label concerns over this action as “nutist”, but we have seen a president whose strategy of making America a pawn to the Eurotocracy through the ICC is well under way—evident by his apology tour, the non-closing closing of Guantanamo and his rejection of non-torture torture techniques used on a few high-level jihadist operatives in the early days of the two-front war on terror.
    ”In light of what we know and can observe, it is our logical conclusion that President Obama’s Executive Order amending President Ronald Reagans’ 1983 EO 12425 and placing INTERPOL above the United States Constitution and beyond the legal reach of our own top law enforcement is a precursor to more damaging moves.
    When the paths on the road map converge – Iraq withdrawal, Guantánamo closure, perceived American image improved internationally, and an empowered INTERPOL in the United States – it is probable that President Barack Obama will once again make America a signatory to the International Criminal Court. It will be a move that surrenders American sovereignty to an international body whose INTERPOL enforcement arm has already been elevated above the Constitution and American domestic law enforcement.
    For an added and disturbing wrinkle, INTERPOL’s central operations office in the United States is within our own Justice Department offices. They are American law enforcement officers working under the aegis of INTERPOL within our own Justice Department. That they now operate with full diplomatic immunity and with “inviolable archives” from within our own buildings should send red flags soaring into the clouds.”
    Even the sycophants in the MSM should demand an explanation of what Obama intended with the order, and Congress needs to conduct hearings as to its effects.

  • BrianE

    Over-reaction or obfuscation?

    According to the MSM, this is much ado about nothing. That appears to be the consensus at The Volokh Conspiracy.

    Prime directive- “Trust but Verify” may be the order of the day.

    Obama administration and Interpol officials say the fears and accusations are based on ignorance about how Interpol works and about the context and impact of the order, which was issued on Dec. 17 without any statement.
    “There is nothing newsworthy here,” said Christina Reynolds, a White House spokeswoman.
    Contrary to its portrayal in some movies, Interpol has no police force that conducts investigations and makes arrests. Rather, it serves its 188 member countries by working as a clearinghouse for police departments in different nations to share law enforcement information — like files on wanted criminals and terrorists, stolen cars and passports, and notices that a law enforcement agency has issued an arrest warrant for a fugitive.
    In the United States, a bureau at the Justice Department staffed by American officials transmits information between law enforcement agencies and Interpol. If a foreign country issues an arrest warrant for a person inside the United States, it is up to the United States government, based on its own laws, to decide whether to apprehend the suspect.
    “We don’t send officers into the field to arrest people; we don’t have agents that go investigate crimes,” said Rachel Billington, an Interpol spokeswoman. “This is always done by the national police in the member country under their national laws.”

  • suek

    >>According to the MSM, this is much ado about nothing.>>
    OK…so why did he do it?  Just felt the urge to sign something???

  • BrianE

    OK…so why did he do it?  Just felt the urge to sign something???

    Good question.

    Is Axelrod smart enough to bait conservatives? The left always considered Rove a cross between the wizard of oz and satan.

  • excathedra

    Shelby Steele, who shares a mixed black/white ancestry with Obama, makes the case that the President is empty as a man, just a cultural symbol embodying our race problem.

  • suek

    Karl Rove…
    He is such a cherubic, innocent looking person…but that brain just keeps churning and churning.  I just couldn’t understand what the left was so irate about…or why they kept calling him satanic etc.  He was really behind the scenes during Bush’s presidency.  Since then, he’s been on a lot of Fox’s analysis shows and he’s outstanding.  Now I understand the ‘satanic’ stuff – he was beating them at their own game.  He has numbers and all sorts of facts right here and now…he’s fantastic!
    Cheney, Palin and Rove….man!  how I’d love to see that ticket as the GOP ticket!  Cheney for president because he’s a master at doing what needs to be done, Palin so she could train with the master and be ready for her turn, and Rove to manage the political spectrum.
    I know…not going to happen…but I can dream, can’t I?

  • Mike Devx

    BrianE quotes:
    > “We don’t send officers into the field to arrest people; we don’t have agents that go investigate crimes,” said Rachel Billington, an Interpol spokeswoman. “This is always done by the national police in the member country under their national laws.”

    For me the issue is not how they currently run their operations.  The daily modus operandi can change on a dime.  The issue is, what are the legal bounds upon how they *may* run their operations in the future?  Can Interpol send officers into the field?  What evidence can they collect?  What evidence can they conceal?  It is the boundaries of their legal capabilities that concern me.  It’s what they are allowed to do, not what they choose to do today, that I want to know.

  • binadaat

    I wrote my congressman about this.
    He got back to me today.
    Dear Mrs. Karni,

    Thank you for contacting me regarding Executive Order 13524, “Designating Interpol as a Public International Organization Entitled To Enjoy Certain Privileges, Exemptions, and Immunities.” It amended Executive Order 12425, in which when President Reagan recognized Interpol (the International Criminal Police Organization) as an International Organization under the International Organizations Immunities Act of 1945.

    Giving an organization such a status accords it certain privileges, exemptions, and immunities in conducting business in the United States.  Originally, President Reagan withheld certain privileges from Interpol.  President Obama, however, has removed the constraints initially placed on Interpol, allowing it to enjoy benefits it previously could not, such as certain tax exemptions.

    In providing Interpol the protection of Section 2(c), the new Order effectively immunizes Interpol’s assets from searches and seizures, and seals its archives by exempting them from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  The main concern over these privileges is that they will interfere with much-needed oversight that is crucial for monitoring any law-enforcement agency, which inherently have the potential to adversely affect the rights of American citizens.  I share your concerns that an international law-enforcement organization now has more privileges than our own F.B.I. or any local or state police agency and would support more oversight for such an organization.

    You may be pleased to know that the House Foreign Affairs Committee is currently considering a bill that would revoke the Order.  Representative Mike Rogers (R-Miss.) introduced H.R. 4453, “INTERPOL Immunities Oversight Act of 2010,” and it was referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee in January.

    Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention and please know I will keep your views in mind should further action be taken on this bill.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views with me.

    If you would like to stay informed about federal legislation introduced in the 111th Congress, as well as local issues that may interest you, please take a moment to subscribe to my weekly e-newsletter at

    I look forward to discussing this or any other issue affecting our 3rd Congressional District with you in the future.  For upcoming Town Hall meetings, or for information on issues or legislation pending before Congress, please visit my website at  If you need assistance with a federal agency, please call my Gold River office at (916) 859-9906.  My staff and I are always available to address your concerns, answer your questions, and listen to your ideas.

    Daniel E. Lungren
    Member of Congress
    Note: Please do not respond directly to this e-mail.  To better serve the constituents of the Third District I have established a Feedback Form on my website.  If you wish to contact me with any concerns, I would ask that you please utilize the following link and I will respond shortly (