CIA Exceptionalism

The CIA appears to believe that it has the charter to go anywhere, kill anyone, and overthrow any state that it thinks needs overthrowing. It’s nice to see that sometimes that’s still not true.

In case you’re not familiar with the situation, a US CIA agent stationed in England was apparently drunk and certainly driving on the wrong side of the road, when she struck and killed a motorcyclist. Rather than sticking around to face the music, she fled back to the US. Then, the US apparatus got into gear and declared that she was sacrosanct and even did a shockingly tasteless surprise meeting (a la Jerry Springer) with the bereaved parents at the white house – they tried to spring the CIA agent on them for some reconciliation but they were shocked by the whole affair. Probably the next move from the US/CIA will be to disappear the parents, or something; they really are not reckoning what they are dealing with.

According to The Guardian: [guard]

An Interpol notice has been circulated worldwide making Anne Sacoolas in effect a fugitive from justice if she sets foot outside her native United States.

Sacoolas was charged in the UK with causing the death by dangerous driving of a 19-year-old motorcyclist, Harry Dunn, last August.

The US refused to accept an extradition warrant, saying she enjoyed diplomatic immunity at the time of the crash. Her husband worked at a CIA spying base, RAF Croughton in Northampton.

The diplomatic immunity claim is … questionable, but the home office has decided to go along with it. Diplomats are declared as such, and CIA residents are usually undeclared; they often work under a cover identity for a contractor or (less often) another agency like the army or the State Department. What surprises me is that the US officially gives a damn and is protecting her; it’s probably out of fear that charging US government criminals with crimes could become a habit.

A red notice has been described as an international wanted person’s notice but is not in itself an arrest warrant.

Interpol issued nearly 14,000 red notices last year. It cannot compel the law enforcement authorities in any country to arrest someone who is the subject of a red notice.

Each member country decides what legal value it gives to a red notice and the authority of their law enforcement officers to make arrests.

The English lapdogs did a pretty energetic job of trying to nab Julian Assange, but a bad driver? No, the entire apparatus of the state is moved to profound passivity.

------ divider ------

Diplomatic immunity and auto accidents go together like wine and driving. There was a notable incident back in the 90s where one diplomat in the Washington area racked up a phenomenal history of speeding, illegal parking, and driving under the influence before the state department finally convinced his home government to recall him: [NBC]

In 2008, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the U.S. Department of State and spent six years fighting to get a list never before released to the public showing hundreds of diplomats pulled over for our most serious driving offenses.

The records show one-third were caught drinking and driving, including a Russian first secretary charged with DWI and trying to elude police in Chevy Chase. Also on the list? A defense attaché for Yemen whose Mercedes was involved in a hit-and-run in Great Falls. He’d been pulled over three years earlier for reckless driving on Gallows Road.

Remember, if you work for Blackwater, “diplomatic immunity” includes shooting old ladies who don’t get their car out of your way fast enough, and then gunning down police or militia that try to stop you. The US can’t have that sort of checks on its power. Un. Accept. Able.


  1. xohjoh2n says

    The diplomatic immunity claim is … questionable, but the home office has decided to go along with it.

    It’s somewhat more dubious the above suggests.

    The person in question was not even an agent, but the spouse of an agent. And there has been no suggestion from any side that that is not the case. Now resident spouses/family are often afforded covering diplomatic immunity by virtue of their relationship with the actual agent/diplomat.

    However in this case the actual agent was part of a US/UK government waiver agreement that they specifically did *NOT* have diplomatic immunity. (That agreement apparently covers that and several other US bases over here.) So if *he* had been driving, he would definitely have been under our jurisdiction and been arrested and most likely charged. Dead bodies usually being somewhat frowned upon over here.

    Where the wife comes in is interesting: that agreement doesn’t *specifically* mention families. So it doesn’t itself drop immunity for *them*. Now, an internal question was raised about that oddity. It would after all seem perverse for someone to acquire covering diplomatic immunity via their relationship with someone who does not themselves have it… (I think most people would kind of expect that the interpretation should be that they never acquired dependent immunity in the first place, so there would be no need for any agreement to remove it.)

    But in the end our Foreign Office decided to ask the US embassy what their interpretation was: they say she had immunity, and everyone else was like sure thing, whatever you say. She was released and immediately fled back to the US before anyone over here changed their minds.

  2. jrkrideau says

    I think it was pretty clear that the fix was in.
    / Jonathan Sacoolas Is Not, and Has Never Been, a Diplomat

    The author, Craig Murray besides being a Scottish Nationalist and general shit-disturber is a former senior British diplomat who probably knows of what he writes.

    When I first read of the case I was reminded of a case were a drunken Russian diplomat, Andrei Knyazev struck and killed a woman and seriously injured another in Ottawa. The embassy refused to waive immunity and he was shipped home.

    Somewhat, I think, to everyone’s amazement he was charged in Russia, convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and received a 4 or 5 year prison sentence.

  3. says

    Somewhat, I think, to everyone’s amazement he was charged in Russia, convicted of involuntary manslaughter embarrassing the Russian government, and received a 4 or 5 year prison sentence.

    Fixed it for you. That was quite a typo.

  4. komarov says

    “There was a notable incident back in the 90s where one diplomat in the Washington area racked up a phenomenal history of speeding, illegal parking, and driving under the influence ”

    Cases like that sound like the ideal situation to depoly the Rookie By-The-Book copper to the field:

    No, Sir, I don’t know what “diplomatic plates” are, so I can’t let to off the hook for having one of those. Now please stop shouting, there’s a simple solution to this mess. I’ll just have to call my supervisor and he’ll be right down and sort the whole thing out. He’s very busy, though, so it might be a couple hours. No need to fret. However, since this is a DUI, I am technically required to have you stand on one leg for the duration.
    Uh, Sir, please ask your fellow passengers to remain in the vehicle. I’m a US cop, I shoot to kill at the drop of a hat. Bodyguards, eh? Are you trying to get me to shoot them? Because I’ll have to charge you with that as well.

    Re (#3):

    That sounds like it could be true, which would imply the US government is even more shameless than the Evil Russian Empire (TM). Again that seems believable.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    If we are training diplomatic immunity, and specifically the UK getting the shit end of it, can I suggest you Google “Yvonne Fletcher”.

    I was in my mid teens, but I can still remember the shit–eating grins on the faces of those “diplomats” as they left.

  6. xohjoh2n says

    @5 That, while unpleasant, was basically diplomatic immunity half-working as it should. The gunmen may have had real diplomatic immunity mandated by international treaty, and so their actions while reprehensible were protected. The correct response to that would be for Libya to rescind protection, but they didn’t. The entire Libyan contingent were expelled as a result, and future relations with Libya did not go so well for them.

    You might not like that but expulsion – and any ensuing fucking up of your state – is the basic remedy for abuse, and diplomatic immunity exists for *very* good reasons.

    In this case there was no diplomatic immunity mandated by international treaty, and any discretionary immunity had been specifically waived by mutual agreement. Having known the facts of the case the US government neither disclaimed nor waived immunity, but instead asserted immunity where realistically it didn’t exist. Knowing this we have as yet not expelled the entire US mission.

    (I’d be *extremely* tickled if we were ever to try that one!)

  7. says

    Bounty hunters in the US have illgeally kidnapped people in Canada, violating Canadian sovereignty, and taken them back to the US. The kidnapped have successfully argued their way out to freedom abroad.

    But would it be illegal for US bounty hunters to take someone *out* of the US? Meeting an Interpol boat in international waters should be legal.

  8. says

    I’d like to see a crowd funded campaign to get a bus to drive past Sacoolas’s mother’s house with a massive picture of her on the side and the words “Have you seen this woman?”

    As long as they stay on the correct side of the road and don’t drink while they’re driving, that sounds like a good idea.

Leave a Reply