US Government Can Kidnap Anyone Anywhere

The United States is very big on the idea of national sovereignty – as long as it is American sovereignty. This has long been the case, though it has come as a surprise to The Sunday Times, which made a headline of it.

A senior US government lawyer made it clear to the Court of Appeals in this country that the kidnapping of foreign citizen in a foreign country by an agent of the US for prosecution in the US is in perfect accordance with American law. Extradition treaties are irrelevant. If Uncle Sam wants you, he will get you.

Apparently the British court assumed that the US only exercised “extraordinary rendition”, or the kidnapping of terrorist suspects. The CIA goes around doing that all the time. They get it wrong occasionally but no one is bothered. However in the Tollman case, in which London-based hoteliers are fighting extradition to the US for tax evasion and bank fraud, there was some discussion of the US attempt to kidnap Stanley Tolman’s nephew when he travelled to Canada. Lawyers were very plain about the US position. The US is entitled to have anyone, anywhere, anytime, and by whatever means.

The US Supreme ruled back in 1993 in United States v. Alvarez-Machain that it was perfectly acceptable for the DEA to hire bounty hunters to cross into Mexico and abduct a Mexican citizen to face trial in the US for a crime committed in Mexico. This was merely an extension of Ker v. Illinois (1886) which said that a bounty hunter could go to a foreign country and bring someone to the US. The difference was that Ker was a US citizen, committed a crime in the US and the bounty hunter wasn’t hired by the government.

As a result, the US can pass laws that apply anywhere in the world and then grab anyone anywhere in the world, take them to the US and try them. They started doing this with suspected terrorists, but now have made it clear them can do it for any reason they like.

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