FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US Flouts the Rule of Law while Demanding That Other Countries Honor It

by DAVE LINDORFF

Ah, the rule of law. How often we hear our government leaders angrily demand that the rest of the world adhere to this sacred stricture, most recently as it demands that countries — even countries with which the US has signed no extradition treaty like Russia or China — honor the US charges leveled against National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and send him to the US for trial.

But the rule of law, in truth, means little to the US, which routinely thumbs its nose at the whole notion.

Take the case of Robert Lady, the former CIA station chief in Rome Italy. Lady, along with 21 other CIA operatives, was charged years ago with the illegal 2003 kidnapping off a street in Milan of a man that the US claimed was a suspected terrorist. Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was thrown into a van and then secretly renditioned first to a secret CIA “black site,” and later to Egyptian police, who, he says, tortured him for the US. Four years later, Nasr was released after an Egyptian court ruled that he was not guilty of anything.

Italy indicted 22 Americans in Nasr’s illegal kidnapping, and sought their presence for a trial. The US, ignoring the rule of law, refused to send its agents to Italy, a country with which the US has a long-established extradition treaty, and which is a long-standing member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), so they were tried in absentia in Italy. Lady, as station chief and chief architect of the kidnapping, was found guilty along with 13 others (eight men were acquitted) and was sentenced, also in absentia, to nine years in prison.

Subsequently, Italy sought to have him extradited by the US to accept his punishment, but the US refused.

Now Lady, who had disappeared from view, has been arrested on an international fugitive warrant in Panama, and Italy is seeking his extradition from that country.

It will be interesting to see how the US responds to this situation. In 2010, documents were leaked from the US Department of Defense (sic) showing that Defense Secretary Robert Gates had worked behind the scenes with then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, to have the CIA agents’ case dropped, with Berlusconi promising to “do what he could,” and complaining that the Italian courts were run by “a bunch of leftists.” (Berlusconi has himself subsequently been tried and convicted of corruption, in a tax evasion case that ended with him sentenced to four years in prison. More recently, he was also tried and convicted of sex with an underage girl, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

The US, since Snowden went public with his expose that the NSA is spying on the electronic communications of all Americans, as well as on hundreds of millions of other people around the world, including in nations supposedly allied with the US, the Obama administration has been leaning heavily on countries of Europe, Asia and especially Latin America, to keep them from granting him asylum. Even Russia, where Snowden is currently trapped because the US has publicly announced the cancellation of his US passport, has been subjected to threats and pressure in an effort to keep that country from granting him even temporary asylum.

As Snowden and the human rights attorneys who are working with him have pointed out, it is a grave violation of international law to deny anyone the right of humanitarian asylum. That doesn’t matter to the US, though, which is brazenly warning all countries that those who offer Snowden asylum, or even safe passage, will “pay a price” not just immediately but “for years to come.”

It seems likely that Panama will now feel this same intense US pressure to release CIA spook and kidnapper Lady and to refuse to send him back to Italy to face his punishment.

The rule of law, as far as the US is clearly considered by the Obama administration, like the Bush/Cheney administration before it, to be only for the weak and the poor. Washington makes it clear that international law doesn’t apply to the US.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail