Fact Check

Executive Order Grants Immunities to INTERPOL

A new executive order gives INTERPOL license to operate with impunity within the U.S.?

Published Jan 4, 2010


Claim:   A new executive order gives INTERPOL license to operate with impunity within the U.S.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2009]

Comment: Is this true?

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.

In a nut shell as far as I can decipher this is the consequence of this executive order: INTERPOL (which is the police arm of the UNITED NATIONS) now has unfettered access to US sovereign territory. INTERPOL may conduct criminal and other investigation unfettered by supervision by and autonomous of the US Department of Justice. INTERPOL may bring criminal complaints against US citizens and I gather the cases would be heard by the WORLD COURT in the Hague. The GUARANTEES the US CONSTITUTION affords ALL US CITIZENS re SEARCH and SEIZURE, SELF INCRIMINATION, RENDITION, EXTRADITION etc is no longer APPLICABLE. In the event INTERPOL causes GRIEVOUS INJURY to ANY US CITIZEN by virtue of MALFEASANCE , INTERPOL is now IMMUNE from any CRIMINAL or CIVIL CONSEQUENCE. They have been granted COMPLETE DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY.



Origins:   On 17 December 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order which extended to
INTERPOL, the international police organization, an additional subset of the standard "privileges, exemptions and immunities" granted to public international organizations by the U.S. under the International Organizations Immunities Act. President Obama's executive order was an amendation of one issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 which first applied the International Organizations Immunities Act to INTERPOL.

While the fact of the executive order is real, the claims that it gives INTERPOL license to start conducting warrantless searches, arresting U.S. citizens, and violating other constitutional guarantees to due process are exaggerated.

The common perception of INTERPOL as a global police organization that sends agents around the world to track down suspects, make arrests, and haul criminals before international tribunals (such as the United Nations) for trial is erroneous. INTERPOL has no police force, and it does not conduct criminal

investigations or make arrests. It's merely an administrative organization that services its member countries (currently 188 in number) by facilitating and coordinating the sharing of law enforcement organization. If, for example, one country should issue an arrest warrant for a suspect currently residing in a second country, INTERPOL merely passes along the warrant and related information to the second country — it's completely up to the latter's government to decide if their laws justify an arrest and, if so, to send their own agents to effect it.

As the New York Times noted, the granting of additional immunities to INTERPOL was prompted by that organization's opening a liaison office at the United Nations' New York headquarters in 2004 and was something first considered during the administration of George W. Bush:

When public international organizations are operating on United States soil, a law allows the president to grant them certain rights and immunities, just as foreign embassies receive privileges. More than 70 organizations — including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the World Bank and the International Pacific Halibut Commission — receive those rights.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan extended some rights — including immunity from lawsuits or prosecution for official acts — to Interpol, which was holding its annual meeting in the United States. But Mr. Reagan's order did not include other standard privileges — like immunity from certain tax requirements and from having its property or records subject to search and seizure — because at the time, Interpol had no permanent office or employees on United States soil.

That changed in 2004, when Interpol opened a liaison office at the United Nations in New York City. The office consists of five staff members, [Interpol spokeswoman Rachel] Billington said, and they have access to law enforcement information submitted by other countries with restrictions on who may receive it.

"When the office opened in 2004, we said look, we'd like to have the Interpol staff working in the office in New York afforded the same immunities as other international organizations," Ms. Billington said. "It's only for the New York office."

The State Department recommended approving the request, but the Bush White House did not complete the matter before its term ended, and so it rolled over.

Last updated:   4 January 2010


    Savage, Charlie.   "Order on Interpol Work Inside U.S. Irks Conservatives."

    30 December 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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