It Is the Time for Testing
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
Lawmakers in Washington need to be alarmed and alert as they consider the nominee to be the next attorney general. From an objective external perspective the United States Department of Justice seems to be adrift and to be quickly losing its way in the routine prosecution of ordinary transnational crime.
A clear consequence of this loss of compass is that the DOJ is systematically undermining the extradition treaties and bilateral international relationships, painstakingly built over the last century, that are the foundation for the critical campaign against globalized, non-terrorist related crime.
It has not always been this way. The United States has been instrumental in the creation of many international conventions upon which the international rule of law is founded. Some analysts point to the morally corrosive effect of the 1992 United States Supreme Court decision in United States v. Alvarez-Machain, as a point when the U.S. began to lose its way.
This ruling reaffirmed that a US Criminal Court has jurisdiction to try a person who has been brought before it even if by forcible abduction from a sovereign foreign state and without compliance with the applicable bilateral extradition treaty and the domestic law of that state.
Others point to the fact that the DOJ has actually embraced and adopted the Alvarez-Machain doctrine as a matter of its own enforcement policy which now explicitly authorizes front line United States Attorneys to consider using such extra legal means for obtaining the return of a wanted foreign person to the US, even in non-terrorist cases, albeit subject to approval from the Washington Department of Justice Office of International Affairs. Whatever the cause, the result of this policy has been an appalling trail of destroyed good will and undermined confidence.
Consider the record from a Canadian perspective. In April 2001, in United States v. Cobb, the Supreme Court of Canada ordered a judicial stay of procedings of a U.S. extradition application on the grounds of abuse of process because U.S. law enforcement officials made statements to the media threatening that unless Mr. Cobb waived extradition and voluntarily returned to the United States for trial steps would be taken to ensure that upon his eventual return to the U.S. he would be placed in a particular prison setting where he would be exposed to homosexual rape.
In April 2002, in United States v. Licht, a Canadian Superior Court Judge stayed another US extradition request, again on abuse of process grounds, because a civilian DEA agent had illegally entered Canada in order to further a drug investigation of Mr. Licht contrary to Canadian law.
More recently, on September 14, 2006, in United States v. Gavin Tollman, another Canadian Superior Court judge stayed yet another US extradition request as an abuse of the Canadian legal process because the involved AUSA had induced Canadian officials to help to obtain Mr. TollmanÂ¹s removal from Canada without first complying with the Canada-US Extradition Treaty. The judge found a course of deliberate and egregious misconduct and that the AUSA in question had been deceptive and disingenuous.
Then consider matters from a United Kingdom perspective. In a remarkable decision issued on June 28, 2007, in United States v. Stanley Tollman, a British judge dismissed a U.S. extradition request as unjust and oppressive. He also made explicit findings that the same AUSA as in the related Canadian case, Stanley Okula Jr., had given untruthful evidence during the course of the UK extradition hearing itself. This is the same prosecutor who was singled out by a Manhattan District Court Judge as having been economical with the truth in his judgment in the high profile KPMG case.
International mutual legal assistance premised upon the mutual respect of sovereign nations and animated by the aspiration to the international rule of law is the necessary precondition to the fight against transnational crime of all types. Yet the commitment of sovereign nations to mutual legal assistance, like the reputation of an individual, is hard won but easily lost.
On the eve of confirmation hearings for the next attorney general of the United States Congress ought to ask some essential questions. How has the Department of Justice so strayed from its mission that a single AUSA could earn the enmity of three independent judges, in three different countries, in three separate cases?
Has this particular AUSA, been disciplined for his misbehaviour? How can the DOJ allow a single prosecutor to harm extradition relations with two of the USAÂ¹s greatest allies and trading partners? Will those in Congress charged with selecting the next chief law officer of the greatest and most powerful nation in human history ensure that the candidate selected is committed to re-establishing a culture within DOJ that reasserts respect for the sovereignty of nations, the vitality of treaties between sovereign nations and to the international rule of law?
It does not overstate to assert that we are at a tipping point in human affairs. Congressional leaders should make no mistake; history and the international community will judge them by their choice.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.