The special relationship

Ah, in these days of talking about the liberties taken in other countries, stories like this make one proud to be a part of the “enlightened” West:

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.

I’m not entirely sure why The Times singled out the UK: this would appear to apply to pretty much any nation, as the legality argument takes place on US soil, not in the affected countries. You’ve got to love those old laws eh! Read more


  1. There is precedent not just in US law, but also in international law, affirmimg the Bush administration's position:

    Israel abducted Adolph Eichmann from Argentina in 1960, and brought him to trial for war crimes. The Israeli Supreme Court arrived at a decision much like the 1992 US Supreme Court case that the Bush administration is citing: i.e., that the fact that a foreign nation's sovereignty may have been violated by kidnapping the person for prosecution are not relevant to the legality of bringing that person to trial. The UN Security Council's reaction to Argentina's protest against the violation of their sovereignty was a request to Israel to make reparations, and an affirmation that Eichmann should be brought to justice. That's hardly a stinging rebuke! In fact, it establishes precedent in international law affirming that kidnappings for the purposes of prosecution may be illegal violations of sovereignty, but they do not void the right of the kidnappers to prosecute.

    Now, violations of sovereignty are no laughing matter, and it goes without saying that the US (even under the current administration) is not going to make a habit of violating British sovereignty with impunity; but when violations of sovereignty occur between countries that are basically on friendly terms, it's going to be handled by diplomats without a lot of messy repercussions.Richard Schwartz#
  2. Thanks Richard, that’s interesting. Funnily enough, your comments dovetail with some reading I have on at the moment: Killing Pablo (Mark Bowden) which touches upon this also, when examining the relationship between the US and Colombia vis à vis Escobar and his ilk.Ben Poole#

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