Here’s a shocker: Our government doesn’t “see” why US politicians are subject to extradition
We have seen how our current government is dedicated to international judicial cooperation. A central feature of that cooperation is the process of extradition. By that procedure one country will honor the requests of another to arrest and turn over a person within its borders to stand trial in another country for alleged violations of its laws. Generally, the country the request is made to doesn’t look at all into the nature of the evidence, or the nature of the crime (beyond ascertaining that it is not a sham or a political crime), and simply allows the defendant to exercise his defense in the country of the trial.
The United States is currently all atwitter over the thought of demanding the extradition Julian Assange. The Justice Department is working overtime just thinking up a plausible reason for requesting his extradition. Junior lawyers at the Justice Department are now spinning what they call hypotheticals, like they did in first year law school, coming up with theories like “receipt of stolen property,” as thought Mr. Assange had a garage full of boxes of Levi™ jeans. Some of our more excitable politicians, feeling that sweet, warm wind of prevailing opinion, have even suggested that they help make up a crime so that Mr. Assange can be prosecuted, and we can therefore invoke that precious process of extradition. Eric Holder once held the bizarre idea that people who made up our government or carried out its illegal directives, could, and should, be prosecuted in our courts for violation of our laws, international treaties and human rights norms. He is now completely free from that misconception and is now orchestrating the efforts of our government lawyers to obtain and prosecute a foreigner, who embarrassed our State Department, but who no one yet has a clue what law he could conceivably be prosecuted under.
It didn’t take long at all for a constitutional law professor and his righteous Attorney General to understand what John Yoo taught: It is the function of government lawyers, when it comes to the national security state, not to follow international law, not to honestly determine what American law and tradition requires, but simply to make things up. And by “make things up” it’s meant that “anything goes.” These are new legal concepts that haven’t yet trickled down into all the law schools of the country. That’s why we are fortunate that Mr. Yoo is not now behind bars, as he would be in a country that followed the out-dated rule-of-law concept that we once prided ourself in, but is rather a professor of law at Berkeley.
I don’t mean to bring up the WikiLeaks story again. God knows we’ve had enough of that. Minds as powerful as Joe Lieberman and Peter King have already decided that his life should be ended without much dispatch, so there is not much need to resort to such things are statutes and precedents and those constitutional provisions which only seem to apply when the wealthy and powerful and popular are involved. No, I bring this up, because, much to my surprise I find that our government doesn’t think extradition applies to Dick Cheney.
Here’s the brief story. Dick Cheney, you may have heard, was once CEO of a company called Halburiton. The business model of that company was to elevate profits over such things as morality, general welfare and the rule of law. As a result, Haliburton has often found itself in legal difficulties which timely payments of cash have generally solved. While our friend Dick Cheney was CEO of Haliburton, one of its arms decided that judicious (or as it turns out not-so-judicious) use of cash would help it receive a natural gas licence in Nigeria. So it illegally paid bribes. $180 million worth. And it paid off, because Mr. Cheney’s company won a $6 billion contract. There is no question that felonies were committed. Our own government has convicted the subsidiary in connection with those crimes.
Mr. Cheney of course is no longer CEO of Haliburton, which he gently left on the wings of a very generous golden parachute when he decided to become a ruler over us. Our current rulers have evidently decided that we owe him eternal gratitude, possibly for the WMD lie he shameless peddled, or the war crimes he presided over, or maybe just because of how he reduced discussions about how to balance national security and the rule of law to the level of gutter politics. But whatever it is, it has surely paid as handsomely for him in intangible benefits as his leadership of Haliburton paid for him in monetary benefits. Nigeria has, you see, indicted Mr. Cheney for his alleged involvement in the bribes. And just this week Nigerian journalists asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whether the US would extradite Mr. Cheney.
Mrs. Clinton graciously took time off from telling her employees not to read the documents that WikiLeaks made publicly available on pain of their jobs to answer the question. And of course, ever the Yale lawyer that she is, she said that she did not want to prejudice any judicial proceeding. In America, we don’t do that. Then she said that there was no basis for the court to act. You see, in America, before a politician tells a court what to do, she says she is not telling the court what to do. Here is her answer:
“Well, I’m not going to comment on any legal matter. Once an issue is in the court system, we will handle it through appropriate legal channels. So, that’s got to be the way that we’re going to respond. But of course, we do not believe that there will be a basis for further action, but we will look into it.”
So when we are writing the new textbooks on extradition policy in the US, we must be careful to point out that when criminals had high positions in our government, we must consult our “belief.” And that belief in this regard follows the first of that important triad of evidence that applies to our rulers: “See no evil.”
It was kind of Mrs. Clinton to take time from her schedule to answer the questions. After all, she has a busy time dealing with disclosures by WikiLeaks that the State Department is evidently in the business of strong-arming our “allies” into not requesting the extradition of criminals from our country, at least when they are committing crimes sanctioned by our ciminals-in-chief. The problem is that the disclosures so far show that the State Department engaged in that behavior against Germany and Spain. It would be so much easier if people would just not read the cables. “See no evil,” is always the best course when it comes to governments that are not bound by the rule of law. That’s how Dick Cheney saw it.