On April 19, 2004, President George W. Bush forwarded to the U.S. Senate a proposed new extradition treaty between the U.S. and the British government. On its face, it deals with “combatting terrorism, organized crime, money laundering, and other offenses.” Buried deep inside it, however, are shocking provisions that can deprive Americans of their freedom. In his submittal letter, Bush claimed that the treaty, the brainchild of Attorney General John Ashcroft, will “contribute to international law.” Bush is wrong! It will do nothing of the sort. In fact, it will do just the opposite.
If ratified by the Senate, what the treaty will do is strip American citizens of the protection of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and rob them of their ancient liberties that the Founding Fathers fought so hard to win in the Revolutionary War. Incredibly, the bogus treaty will also eliminate any statute of limitations! It was agreed to by Ashcroft and his UK legal counterpart on March 31, 2003, only eleven days after Bush and the UK’s Tony Blair launched the immoral, unjust and unlawful Iraqi War.
The treaty as written means that anyone in this country, who ever stood up against the crime of British imperialism, like: the gallant Founding Fathers from 1775-1783; the people of Baltimore, who rose up in defense of their city at Fort McHenry, on September 12-14, 1814; (birthplace of the National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”); and the magnificent General Andrew Jackson, who gave the Brits a good whipping at the Battle of New Orleans, Jan. 8, 1815, could have all their assets seized and sent to England. Say good-bye to George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon in VA, Jackson’s splendid “Hermitage” near Nashville, TN, and Baltimore’s beautiful City Hall.
The monster treaty, which is retroactive in its application, makes clear its baleful intent in Article 16, which states, “Such items and assets may be surrendered even if the extradition cannot be carried out due to the death…of the person sought.” The nerve of those Brits! And, what law school did Ashcroft go to? And, when is Bush ever going to pick up a book on American history and read it? The man has no idea we live in a Republic.
The treaty’s terms actually gets much worse. One of its critics, Professor Francis A. Boyle, is the author of seven books, and a distinguished Professor of International Law and recognized expert on Human Rights, at the U. of Illinois. He reports that the treaty, (Treaty Doc. 108-23), also will: “eliminate the political offense exception to any offense allegedly involving violence or weapons; transfer responsibility for determining whether the extradition request is politically motivated from the courts to the executive branch; allow for extradition even if no U.S. federal law is violated; and allow for provisional arrest and detention for 60 days upon request by the U.K.” (Irish Echo, “Proposed Extradition Treaty Causing Concern,” Ray O’Hanlon, May 14, 2004).
If all of this sounds like the Brits could wake up one morning and just arbitrarily charge an American citizen with a so-called “extraditable offense,” on the flimsiest kind of evidence, you’re right to think so. It also means that the accused, a citizen of this Republic, would get no full judicial review of his extradition process by a federal judge, a federal appellant court, or the U.S. Supreme Court. The final word on whether the charges would be upheld would be made by the President, via the advise of that Missouri cowboy himself, “Sheriff” John Ashcroft! Meanwhile, the assets of the accused could be seized at the direction of the British for its benefit. And, then the accused could be hauled off, in leg irons, to London for a trial in a non-jury proceedings. Pretty grim prospects, huh?
The rights-shredding treaty is self-executing and once it is passed by the Senate, (a two-third majority vote in the Senate is needed for passage), and signed by the President, it becomes the “Law of the Land.” The accused, an American, will be at the mercy of an alien-based foreign government, the UK, whose horrific record on torture and mistreatment of prisoners, Northern Ireland and Iraqi War included, (amnesty.org.uk), is disgusting.
Professor Boyle suspects that the “real target” of the treaty is the Irish-America community. Although, I believe that the Muslim-American community could also be a possible target, along with just about anyone who is a critic of the Brits, or the Royal Family, including someone who insists that Lady Diana may have been murdered as a result of a criminal conspiracy hatched in Buckingham Palace. Boyle added, “People could be prosecuted for simply helping people involved in the situation in Northern Ireland…God forbid, any Irish American who gives any support can be immediately shut down, even by totally unfounded allegations” (“Irish Echo,” ibid., irishecho.com).
In addition, I think that immigrants living in the U.S. are particularly vulnerable under this proposal. And, any Jew who fought against the British during the days of the Mandate in Palestine, now living or residing in America, could be extradited to the UK under the reach of this treaty. In fact, if the ex-Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir, who is suspected or organizing the assassination by Stern Gang operatives of Walter Edward Guinness, (Lord Moyne), British Minister, in Egypt, in 1944, visited the U.S., the British government could, under the provisions of this treaty, request that he be detained and extradited to the UK, if it so desired (wikipedia.org).
At the moment, the treaty is pending before the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN). Irish American activists have expressed their concerns to Chairman Lugar. In a letter, dated May 4, 2004, they pointed out that, “Under the new treaty, as drafted, an extradition request from the British government could be received on one day and a target, regardless of citizenship or the merits of the extradition request, could be forcibly placed on a plane and deposited with the British security forces the very next day. These are the same security forces that presently stand accused of orchestrating collusive murders of its citizens in Northern Ireland for many years and who have successfully stonewalled calls for independent investigations of such misdeeds…” (“Joint Letter from Irish American Organizations,” Irish American Unity Conference, Washington, DC).
If Blair and Bush get their way with pushing this draconian treaty through the Senate, many of the fruits of General Washington’s hard fought victory in the American Revolutionary War over the British predators will be forever forfeited. The underlining causes of the American struggle for freedom from Great Britain are set out in the Declaration of Independence, drafted primarily by the immortal Thomas Jefferson. Some of the relevant provisions of that historic document, first published on the 4th of July, 1776, read as follows:
“For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by jury…For transporting us beyond the Seas to be tried for pretended offenses…For taking away our Charter, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally, the Forms of our government…”
The Senate of the U.S. should be reminded of the above facts when it considers this ill-advised, rights-suppressing treaty proposal. The Senate should do its duty – reject this insult to the legacy of the Founding Fathers.