Sunday, December 02, 2007

What has happened to the rule of law?

Supposedly the George W. Bush administration is conservative, but what exactly are they conserving? The way the world has worked up until now, at least the parts of the world that are civilized and operate under the rule of law, people are not kidnapped by agents of foreign governments. People facing criminal charges in the United States who reside in, say, the United Kingdom can only be brought without their consent to the United States if the United Kingdom agrees to arrest and extradite them.

Until 2001 the only time this procedure was circumvented were when Nazi war criminals were kidnapped by agents of Israel.

Since 2001 the United States has claimed the right to kidnap people suspected of being terrorists. This did not unduly alarm people who did not think they were likely to be suspected of being war criminals or terrorists. But now the Bush Administration is telling the world that the United States claims the right to kidnap anyone anywhere.

As reported by the TimesOnLine (London Sunday Times):

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.


How could people called conservative claim this kind of power, a power that allows them to ignore international law? How do you feel about the world being told by the Bush Administration that this is what America stands for – that might make right? What are these conservatives conserving? What historic period are they returning us to?

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