AN Security

Part V: Relinquishing our Sovereignty

In executive order 12425, foreign police powers, INTERPOL, Obama national civilian security, US sovereignty on January 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm

This is a very important question and it has been raised recently with the announcement from the White House that INTERPOL will be granted more powers in the U.S. This story is making many Americans very angry. Sovereignty apparently has been set aside for other purposes such as Obama’s civilian national security force. During the campaign many people applauded the idea without stopping to consider that if there is a centralized enforcement entity that means it’s across the board, not designed for each jurisdiction. There is no talk of what kind of training or policies will guide this backup organization(s) once implemented. The idea came and went noticed by a select few and denied by the rest as some form of putdown of the presidential candidate. So can and will INTERPOL’s police powers extended?

Eh, maybe, maybe not. Perhaps we’re not looking at this story objectively. In fact, there is too  much emotion involved in how people are reacting to the possibility that this international law enforcement organization could become a centralized police power. Unless there is such a drastic plan in place, it just isn’t feasible but some things are always worthy of investigation. INTERPOL’s purpose is to serve as a hub for information sharing, intelligence, training of law enforcement agencies worldwide. It’s no different than cops back home; when a call takes them to another jurisdiction they call ahead and ask the guys at the other end to be on the alert. INTERPOL is pretty much like that; it helps agencies track statistical data as well, assists in the search for fugitives and their apprehension. INTERPOL in that context is not a bad thing. The fact is that amending EO-12425 is not as significant in itself because there are some other elements missing at this time.

If you look at INTERPOL from a different perspective, say, how could they actually accomplish having all of these powers that we are so afraid of then we must see how that is structured. One of the agency’s accomplishments in 2009 was the successful introduction of the INTERPOL passport. This passport is designed to function just like any other passport however it has been enhanced to afford expediency for teams or individuals who are invited to any of the member countries, all 188 of them, to pass through customs and passport control without interference. I suppose these individuals must be thoroughly vetted before being given such easy access into a country. The US sends plenty of FBI people overseas to assist in counterterrorism investigations all the time but I am sure that these teams can get expedited passage with their credentials. Still, law enforcement travel is tricky so countries track these individuals. Does such a passport mean fast entry but how about monitoring movement in country? Maybe there is something in the language of INTERPOL’s Secretary General that got me thinking:

 “When member countries ask INTERPOL for assistance to prevent, investigate, or respond to any terrorist act, serious crime or natural disaster, the safety and security of their citizens may depend on INTERPOL being in place as fast as possible,” said Secretary General Noble.

“That a person is travelling with an INTERPOL passport for official business should be all the information a country needs in order to grant them access. By agreeing to waive visas for INTERPOL passport holders, member countries will ultimately be assisting themselves,” added Mr Noble.

INTERPOL is entering the much needed aspect of police peacekeeping and peace-building operations. You’ve probably heard the term peacekeeping more in relation to police actions such as the intervention in the Balkans of the 1990s. I am saying ‘much-needed’ for a legitimate reason. The importance of an international police force that will help military elements establish and maintain the rule of law in occupied countries has been debated and suggested for many years. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 at first appeared to be beneficial and it was expected that the population would be cooperative. The intention is always to establish the rule of law as soon as combat operations are stable or stop in order to assist the local people re-enter a period of rehabilitation. War is stressful and disrupts the normal lives of people; that’s a given. Stability operations in Iraq went awry five weeks after Coalition troops invaded. Forget the search for Saddam Hussein; the changes going on in Iraqi society took place quickly and violently. Suddenly Iraqis were left with the euphoric feeling of freedom from a tyrant then moved on to the realization that without those social and political controls they could do what they wanted.

This is a good thing because there is a need for a dedicated constabulary to deploy not only in peace time but during the stability phase following the cessation of military operations. It is also the stuff the U.S. is attempting to do in Iraq and Afghanistan; to rebuild their countries from the bottom up. The International Criminal Court – which seeks jurisdiction in the U.S. as it has in other countries – would be more involved in American law and order at all but then it needs an enforcement branch in order to be effective. At any rate, something is missing in the equation. The ICC goes hand in hand with the UN (under war crimes tribunal, not for the persecution – prosecution of individual parties but of countries) and INTERPOL is wrapped nicely inside that circle. The question is how realistic is the possibility of these forces deploying to the U.S.


Get acquainted with these terms; stability operations or nation building.  

To have a foreign police force deploy to the U.S. it must be due to an invitation by that country or international police authority for them to come. What is different here is the absence of a crisis big enough to warrant such an invitation. After all, that is what happens to other countries, such as it happened in the Balkans, Iraq or Afghanistan where political and military instability threaten the stability of neighboring states or faces total collapse. Given the number of small incidents occurring nationwide after the Delta flight attack, a power grid shutdown during winter, an outbreak of the flu in Florida, civil disobedience, etc. could be considered emergencies or crises that can be handled by a peaceful people and there is no need for an international intervention. What if the economy collapses?

For that matter, what about the KSM trials in New York and the possible trials of other terrorists on U.S. soil? The unknown elements of security threats have not been explored for these scenarios beyond the logistical issues that come with coordinating law enforcement, corrections and courthouse protection, not to exclude issues with traffic and a higher volume of human traffic into these venues. Maybe as events accumulate over time things will not look so good for us. Scattered terrorist attacks may give the perception that we are in such trouble that we must outsource our security from others as we have done before. If such a police force is vetted so have passports that allow them to enter any member country easily, does the U.S. have any input on their background?

Worst yet can someone’s background be falsified? Are we sure those cops are really who they say they are? Can terrorists infiltrate large police forces with legitimate passports?

Just wondering.


Executive Order 12425

Order on Interpol inside U.S. irks Conservatives

The White House press release of executive order establishing the council of governors

Obama gives foreign cops new police powers in U.S.

  1. […] Part V: Relinquishing our sovereignty […]

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