Conservatives' fevered claims about extending certain privileges to Interpol ridiculed by Fox panel

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

Conservative media figures Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Newt Gingrich have recently attacked President Obama for issuing an executive order designating the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) as a public international organization; these conservatives asked "what special interest group asked for this," suggested that the order could lead to investigations of American officials, and suggested that the move was a "screw-up." However, the "All-Star Panel" on Fox News' Special Report, including conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, debunked these claims, calling the order "benign" and the conservative media claims "paranoid."

Conservatives freak out over executive order

Beck asks, "[W]hat special interest group asked for this?" During his Fox News show, Beck said of the amendment to Executive Order 12425, extending certain privileges and immunities to Interpol, "I have been trying to find out the answer why, and no one in the White House will respond." He continued: "This Congress attacks our CIA and FBI, but the European group Interpol they give immunity to?" Beck also stated, "This doesn't make sense," and asked, "[W]hat special interest group asked for this?" [Glenn Beck, 1/7/10]

Limbaugh calls the order "a screw-up." Addressing Obama's comment that the security failure that led to the attempted Christmas day bombing was a "screw-up," Limbaugh asked: "Is lifting an executive order, giving Interpol immunity from American laws a screw-up?" [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/6/10]

Gingrich suggests order could lead to investigations of U.S. officials. Appearing on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich claimed that the order "basically releases Interpol from all American constraints" and gives the organization "all sorts of extralegality in the United States in a way that has never ever before been offered to Interpol." He further asserted, "What I'm told is that it could lead to a number of investigations by Interpol in the United States potentially aimed at American officials." Gingrich commented that he was "very curious as to why the president is doing this" and asked, "Why would the president of the United States give that kind of extralegal protection to an international police force?" [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 1/4/10]

Krauthammer, Special Report panel debunk "paranoid" claims

Krauthammer: "[T]his is really benign." During Special Report's "All-Star Panel," conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer called the executive order "benign" and commented: "This basically is saying that Interpol has the same rights as the Swiss delegation, so it will not have to pay its parking tickets. Now, that may be a scandal; I think it is. But it's not a black helicopter landing in your back yard." Asked by host Bret Baier whether the order would allow Interpol to supersede U.S. authority, Krauthammer responded, "Absolutely not." [Special Report, 1/7/10]

Easton: "I don't see a conspiracy." Also on Special Report, Fortune magazine's Nina Easton stated: "It seems like the Obama White House is simply extending the protections that go to the United Nations and other international organizations to Interpol, which finally opened an office here in 2004, hadn't done so before, and it basically protects its records from being shared with other countries and so on. It seems like a -- very straightforward." She then commented: "I don't see a conspiracy."

Baier: White House says protections "are actually less than diplomats across the board get." Baier responded to Easton: "The White House saying that the immunities are actually less than diplomats across the board get." Indeed, in the January 8 White House press briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs stated: "Well, the executive order updated Interpol's status based on the fact that within the past five years they've opened a permanent office here in order to assist in the type of information-sharing between governments that we all know is so important. That simply -- all that does is simply bring them -- give them the same privileges and responsibilities that many other international organizations have in this country, like the IAEA, the Red Cross, and things like the IMF." He added that there was "absolutely not" a law enforcement component that might threaten U.S. constitutional rights.

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