President Obama's Executive Order
INTERPOL and EO 13524 amending EO12425
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There has been a rash of emails about President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) 13524 which amends EO 12425, granting INTERPOL certain privileges. Here is our brief analysis of the situation.
The Executive Order draws its authority from the International Organizations Immunities Act passed by the 79th Congress December 29, 1945. The law grants to designated organizations a list of “immunities” including Section 2(c) which states:
“Section 2(c) Property and assets of international organizations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, unless such immunity be expressly waived, and from confiscation. The archives of international organizations shall be inviolable.”
President Ronald Reagan issued EO 12424 in 1983 which granted “International Organization” status upon INTERPOL, but specifically excluded the immunities granted under Section 2(c), 2(d), Sections 3,4,5, and 6, which deal primarily with taxes (see PL79-291 above).
In September, 1995, President Clinton’s Executive Order No. 12971 amended Reagan’s EO by removing some of INTERPOL’s tax-related restrictions. Obama’s December 17, 2009 EO 13524 removed the remainder of Reagan’s restrictions.
Most significantly, Obama’s EO granted full immunity from search of all INTERPOL properties, essentially giving the organization full diplomatic status. INTERPOL now joins more than 60 other “International Organizations” that enjoy similar immunities.
These are the facts surrounding Obama’s amendment to the Reagan EO. Most of the rest of the chatter is speculation about what this amendment means, or what it may portend. Obama’s EO does raise important questions. Perhaps most important is why he felt it beneficial to the U.S. to remove Reagan’s restrictions.
The EO does not automatically place the United States under the authority of INTERPOL. It does not automatically make the U.S. subject to the International Criminal Court. The restrictions can be re-imposed by this, or subsequent presidents -or Congress could amend the original law, if necessary.
Still, the action is troubling and should be monitored closely by Congress and those organizations that have access to national security information. The president should explain his reasoning for this action.