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Monday, December 28, 2009

Ignorance Of Intellegence

While taking a break from blogging over the holiday weekend - oops, I mean "Christmas" - I took to my Twitter account during downtime. A new conservative meme is that Obama has suddenly given Interpol sweeping and unprecedented diplomatic immunity that has actually given them more power than our own CIA or FBI. To bad this isn't true in any sense of the word.

After reading the paranoid ramblings of HotAir's Ed Morriessy, as well those from ThreatWatch, I was filled with the sense that this change wasn't nearly the hammer-fall of tyranny that it was being portrayed as.

Mark Leon Godlberg, who worked for Interpol's bureau in Lyon, France pointed out that the apparent source of this hysterical ignorance has no clue what Interpol is.

Interpol is also not an "international police force." This would imply that Interpol is composed of units of officers that can chase criminals across the world, Jason Bourne style. In fact, there is no such thing as an "Interpol officer," as such. Rather, law enforcement officers from Interpol's member states are seconded to the organization from national law enforcement agencies, like the FBI, U.S. Marshals, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ect.

This is not just a semantic distinction. Officers seconded to Interpol do not have any sort of transnational executive arrest power. Rather, officers seconded to Interpol do things like coordinate busts of international child pornography rings. The people actually making the arrests, though, are members of the national law enforcement of the country where the crimes are committed. They are not "Interpol Officers" -- because there is no such thing as an "Interpol Officer." Further, "Interpol" can't arrest an American on American soil, a Canadian on Canadian soil or a Rwandan on a Rwandan soil. Only national law enforcement can do that.

The point that Goldberg makes is quite interesting. Have we, as American consumers, been so instilled with the image of James Bond, Jason Bourne, or any other secret-agent-for-the-govt, that we actually believe that this is how it works in the real world?

I think the more serious aspect of this is that people like Morrissey and and the conspiratorial folk at ThreatWatch attempt to pass themselves off as credible sources of information on literally every topic imaginable. Would you ask your local coffee-shop attendant to do your taxes? Or would you allow the girl working the drive-thru window at McDonalds to change the exhaust manifold on your new Acura? No, you wouldn't, because you would find someone that actually knew what they were doing.

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