[No Comment] Kidnapping Not a Crime, Claims Bush Justice Department | Harper's Magazine
Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99.
Subscribe for Full Access
Kidnapping Not a Crime, Claims Bush Justice Department Issue [No Comment]

Kidnapping Not a Crime, Claims Bush Justice Department


Continuing its recent spree of criminality in the alleged pursuit of law enforcement, the Bush Justice Department formally advised a British Court last week that it is fully entitled to kidnap foreigners (i.e., Britons) off the street around the world and carry them off to secret prisons. The claim was formerly thought to relate to terrorists. But no longer. Now the Bush Justice Department asserts the right to kidnap anyone it suspects of a crime. The Sunday Times (London) reports:

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.

A look a little deeper into the case at hand provides a good explanation:

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.

He said that if a person was kidnapped by the US authorities in another country and was brought back to face charges in America, no US court could rule that the abduction was illegal and free him: “If you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse — it goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s.” Mr Justice Ouseley, a second judge, challenged Jones to be “honest about [his] position”. Jones replied: “That is United States law.”

Let’s be a bit fairer to the United States shall we? This is not U.S. law, it is a Bush Administration hallucination as to U.S. law. The sort of nightmare that comes flowing freely from the pen of John Yoo or David Addington. The sort of nightmare which refuses to recognize the sovereignty of foreign states or the solemn commitments of U.S. governments over the last two centuries in treaties and conventions. The sort of nightmare that refuses to recognize the “law of nations” referred to by the Founding Fathers and incorporated into the Constitution. Alas, it is the attitude of a criminal who imagines himself busy enforcing the law, even as he holds himself above the law.

It is the attitude which has brought our nation low in the world and threatens more damage still.

More from