Once upon a time, the US claimed to be a nation of laws, and set great stock by the idea of “due process”. Not any more, apparently. And we’re not dealing with terrorism, or national security; just run-of-the-mill criminal stuff. Nor are we talking about countries with which the US doesn’t have extradition treaties. We’re talking about the UK, the closest approximation to an ally which the US has these days.
Today’s Sunday Times reports on an ongoing extradition case associated with a fraud accusation:
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, Tollmanâ€™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. â€œThe United States does have a view about procuring people to its own shores which is not shared,â€ 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: â€œIf you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse â€” it goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s.â€
I wish that the judge had asked whether the US regarded this as the new standard in international law which should apply to all. For example, if a US “bounty hunter” kidnapped a British citizen and transported him or her to the US, this would be prima facie illegal under British (and European) law. Under this US interpretation, it would seem quite acceptable for the British police to kidnap the bounty hunter in the US and whisk him or her back to the UK to stand trial. And the Germans could presumably have kidnapped the CIA agents that had been charged over the al-Masri affair.
But since the
Bush Cheney “imperial” administration believes that it is above US law, why would it bother about international law?