If you don't know, the United States of America believes in the "rule of law." How do we know this? Because our leaders tell us about how hallowed the "rule of law" is. They talk about it frequently. They say that this is what separates our great nation from others. In our nation -- unlike so many others -- the laws apply equally and no one is above the law. (I'm laughing my butt off simply typing those silly sentiments!)
Because we are such beacons for the "rule of law," President Obama and several members of Congress have chastised the Russians for not turning over to us one Edward Snowden. We have a legal indictment, they say. The "rule of law" demands that Russia comply with our extradition order and, if they don't, it goes to show that we believe in the "rule of law" far more than they do.
Yes, the "rule of law" is vitally important to our leaders...except in the innumerable cases when it is not! For example, Glenn Greenwald points out a recent situation when the "rule of law" didn't mean diddly squat.
In 2003, two dozen or so CIA agents kidnapped an Egyptian citizen from a street in Milan where he was living after Italy granted him asylum from persecution by the US-allied Mubarak regime. The CIA then rendered their kidnapped victim back to Egypt where he was interrogated and tortured. Italian authorities criminally charged the CIA agents with kidnapping, and after the US refused to turn them over for trial, they were convicted in abstentia. One of them, Milan CIA station chief Robert Lady, was sentenced to several years in prison. I wrote about that case, and US behavior in it, several months ago: here.
Lady ended up in Panama, and when the Italians learned of this, they requested his extradition to Italy. The US government intervened and applied significant pressure to Panamanian officials, who, yesterday, predictably released Lady and put him on a plane back to the US. The next time the US lectures the world about the rule of law and need for accountability, I'm sure this incident will be on many people's minds. It should be.
Also: for those in official Washington - including its press corps - who have been demanding that Edward Snowden come and "face the music" of the charges against him, will you be demanding the same of CIA official Robert Lady, who - unlike Snowden - has committed serious crimes (kidnapping) and has been convicted of those crimes?
Hmm. Rather interesting, don't ya think? Italy is supposed to be one of our allies and yet their "rule of law" doesn't impress us. The Obama administration swept it away with the flick of a hand.