You be the judge

We have seen how quickly the international legal system has sprung into action over Julian Assange. On the same day Interpol has an arrest warrant from Swedish prosecutors, Assange turns himself in and a British judge in the City of Westminister Magistrates’ Court orders him held without bail even though he had sureties ready. The reason: that the man who voluntarily and promptly responded to the warrant was a flight risk.

On the same day former Vice President Dick Cheney was indicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria for his alleged involvement in a $180 million bribery scheme involving Nigerian officials. The case took place when Dick Cheney was CEO of Haliburton Co. The bribery was to secure for Haliburton’s subsidiary KBR a $6 billion liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta. Unlike the murky allegations in the Assange case–who is not indicted but rather is wanted for questioning–there is no doubt that bribery took place. In February 2009, KBR Inc. pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to authorizing and paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 for the plant contracts in Nigeria and paid $400 million in fines as part of its plea agreement.

So assuming Interpol is as prompt in executing arrest warrants pursuant to indictments of felonies as it is for requests for interviews, we should see an Interpol warrant for Mr. Cheney and his alleged co-conspirators very soon. Now the United States could take one of two courses:

1. It could imprison Mr. Cheney pending further proceedings, as the British did to Mr. Assange.

Or

2. It could throw its weight around to bully Nigeria into dropping the charges as it attempted with Spain when a Spanish magistrate was investigating whether American CIA officials had committed violations of international law by torturing alleged terrorists. Ironically, it was disclosures by Mr. Assange’s Wikileaks that brought America’s role in that obstruction of justice to light.

I wonder which it will be. You be the judge.

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