International Intrigue


The Washington Times reports that the Supreme Court will hear a case about whether the U.S. has the right to kidnap criminal suspects abroad and bring them back here for trial.

A lower court ruling would block federal agents from bringing Osama bin Laden to the United States to face charges in the September 11 attacks, Solicitor General Theodore Olson said, and jeopardizes U.S. efforts "to apprehend individuals who may be abroad, plotting other illegal attacks" on the United States.

The actual case in question?

In the covert kidnapping case, the justices will decide if a Mexican doctor charged but never convicted of aiding in the torture of a federal agent is entitled to damages from the U.S. government and Mexican nationals who arrested him, under several federal laws.

A sharply split 9th Circuit said that federal drug agents acted illegally when they ordered the 1985 kidnapping, upholding an award of $25,000 to the doctor. The court said that federal law allows lawsuits for suspected violations of international law or treaties.

…The Bush administration has asked the court to clarify whether federal officers can arrest someone in a foreign country if they have probable cause to suspect the person of a crime.

More details here.

Link via Free-Market.Net

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  1. It doesn’t matter. Just elect Howard Dean, and we’ll hand Osama over to an international court. Then they can give him 20 years, and a hefty fine. Look out, terrorists!

  2. I see, Mark, so something’s a criminal act is Syria says it is.

  3. I actually don’t get too bent out of shape over US agents arresting people on foreign soil if they have evidence. But I wonder, what if, aay, France or China arrested somebody on US soil without telling the US. Say the foreign gov’t in question has good reason to suspect that the person committed a serious crime (e.g. murder, kidnapping, theft, etc.). I wonder if people here would wail about violations of US sovereignty, and then in the next breath defend US agents arresting people on foreign soil without permission from that gov’t.

    Not saying we should ask permission to defend ourselves, just wondering how consistent people would be. That’s all.

  4. We have understandings with friendly countries, thoreau, and respect their sovereignty as they respect ours. When this respect is broken in either direction, as occasionally happens, it becomes a big deal. But the issue today is more about hostile countries–if we pretend all our actions regarding them are covered by “international law” then, essentially, the UN dictates our foreign policy.

  5. There’s a big issue here folks, that our friendly local journalists have missed for the second time in 24 hours, and it directly affects your civil liberties.

    This is another case, like the Gitmo detainee cases, where an alien is invoking the Alien Tort Claims Act, and attempting to use it to dictate U.S. policy and law. In this case, the Mexican doctor – who administered drugs to at least on captive DEA agents for the purpose of keeping him alive so he could be tortured longer – has sued for an alleged violation of his rights under international law. The apprehension of this man, which was legal under U.S. law, is only contested on the grounds of some rather speculative “customary international law” – i.e. international common law, a sort of phantasmagoric body of law, the tangibility of which doesn’t even rise to the level of an emanation of a penumbra.

    The argument is that the Alien Tort Claims Act, a little used 212 year old law allowing aliens to sue the U.S. government for violations of the law of nations and customary international law, makes novel, unsigned and unratified treaties and the opinions of international law scholars binding on the U.S. government. The proper and historic meaning of “customary international law” was admiralty law, the law of the sea (as against piracy); and commercial law as developed by the maritime nations of northern europe, mainly the Dutch. Now it’s been expanded, to mean anything Larry Tribe, OxFam, Amnesty, and any given plaintiff thing it means.

    If the Supreme Court chooses to affirm the 9th Circuit and follows its reasoning, it means that mostly unsigned, unratified treaties, which lefty legal scholars deem to be “international customary law”, will become the law of the land.

    Keep boosting these guys who file novel claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act, Nick & Jesse. Keep boosting ’em. But I have to warn you, I’ll laugh when you get sentenced to a U.S. prison for offensive prose, which is a criminal act under Canadian and Belgium law, and according to certain legal scholars, the new international norm for how we ought to speak to people… and all some offended reader has to do is get the 9th Circuit to buy into it. Yes, you’re cheering for statism run completely amok, as opposed to our normal U.S. situation of statism run merely somewhat amok.

    In the alternative, you could try to find a sharp libertarian lawyer to write for you who understands the issues at stake. Where’s Bob Levy when you need him? Oh yeah, that’s right – he’s working at CATO, where they pen articles like this one ( or this one ( discussing this exact problem.

  6. The issue seems to rest upon the foreign government’s opinion. If the US has permission, it is an arrest. If not, it is a kidnapping and a criminal act.

  7. Boosting? What? How did I get roped into this?

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