Diplomatic Immunity, American-Style
By Larry Romanoff, August 28, 2022
In a recent podcast, Kevin Barrett stated that the rule of law has disappeared in the US. This is so obviously true to outsiders looking in, and is even more true of American official conduct abroad, but I find myself wondering about the extent to which Americans generally are aware of this and how it is perceived.
In days gone by, this lawlessness was usually deeply buried and obfuscated but today it seems there is no longer even a pretense of any rule of law. We see this most recently in the so-called “sanctions” the US so freely applies to countries and individuals, being no more than illegal rampaging and looting.
But there is another category that may not be as visible and yet is indicative of an extreme breakdown of the rule of law, this applying to the category of “diplomatic immunity”, real or imagined, where the US government absolutely treads on a one-way street. This article is only a brief introduction with a few examples of hundreds that could be cited.
On late 2013 an Indian diplomat, 39-year-old Devyani Khobragade, was the Deputy Consul-General in New York, and by all reports had an excellent reputation and was honorably discharging her consular duties. But then she was suddenly charged with submitting false documents to obtain a work visa for a housekeeper. She was arrested and handcuffed while dropping her daughter off at school, was taken to a police station and strip-searched, given a body cavity search, then put into a cell with drug dealers and held there until she was finally released on $250,000 bail. (1)
The Federal Prosecutor, Preet Bharara, claimed agents had arrested her “in the most discreet way possible”, having doing so in full view of her daughter, her daughter’s friends, and most of the teachers and students. He said “there can be no plausible claim that this case was somehow an injustice”, calling her treatment “standard procedure” even for diplomatic personnel, claiming further that during her strip and cavity searches she had been “accorded courtesies well beyond what other defendants are accorded, most of whom are American citizens.” He claimed these procedures were “standard practice for every defendant, rich or poor, American or not, in order to make sure that no prisoner keeps anything on his person that could harm anyone, including himself”. He said his office’s sole motivation was to uphold the law, protect victims and hold lawbreakers accountable, “no matter what their societal status and no matter how powerful, rich or connected they are”. (2) (3) (4) (5) It staggers the imagination and leaves us numb and unable to respond when faced with such incredibly shameful lies.
联邦检察官普里特·巴拉拉（Preet Bharara）声称，特工“以尽可能谨慎的方式”逮捕了她，在她女儿、女儿的朋友以及大多数教师和学生的面前逮捕了她。他说，“不可能有合理的说法认为这起案件是不公正的”，称她的待遇是“标准程序”，即使是外交人员，他还声称，在对她进行脱衣和空腔搜查时，她“受到的礼遇远远超过了其他被告的礼遇，其中大多数是美国公民。”他声称，这些程序是“每个被告的标准做法，无论是富人还是穷人，无论是美国人还是非美国人，他说，他的办公室的唯一动机是维护法律，保护受害者，并追究违法者的责任，“无论他们的社会地位如何，无论他们有多么强大、富有或有多么关系”(2) (3) (4) (5)当我们面对这些令人难以置信的可耻谎言时，它会让我们的想象力错乱，让我们麻木，无法做出反应。
The mess was later blamed on a “mistake”, a claim that the low-level agent who drew up the charges against Ms. Khobragade had confused two documents – Ms. Khobragade’s US visa application and that of the employment contract with her housekeeper – and “misunderstood” Ms. Khobragade’s salary as the amount she meant to pay her maid. Yet those two documents are in an entirely different format and could not possibly have been confused one with the other. It would appear that no visa fraud actually occurred after all, and it was further discovered Ms. Khobragade was after all attached to the UN as an advisor, which function unquestionably granted her full diplomatic immunity. The US State department repeatedly refused to acknowledge her diplomatic status but let her leave the country. (6)
However, and if all the claims had been true, this really would have been at most a simple issue of a wage mis-statement which is a misdemeanor offense and not a felony, and would normally be investigated by the Department of Labor. In fact, this is a common issue with many foreign household and agricultural workers in the US, and also occurs daily with restaurant workers, but never in the history of America has a restaurant or farm owner been arrested and strip-searched because of a low-level wage or visa dispute. And for such a minor offense the bail is usually around $5,000, not $250,000. So what really happened?
Well, only a few weeks before being abruptly arrested and strip-searched in New York, Ms. Khobragade had managed to make some powerful enemies in the US pharmaceutical industry about India’s treatment of US so-called intellectual property. The Indian government and courts have taken IP actions that angered the Americans, including denial to US firms of pharmaceutical patents that were not a true innovation, and permitting compulsory licensing for production of generic medicines. The US Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) was hysterical at India’s actions, referring to “unprecedented patent revocations and denials” and accusing India of being “an outlier in the global economy”. AmCham’s “Global IP Center” held a public event in New York at which it attacked India’s practices, and at which Ms. Khobragade was “outspoken” in defense of her country’s practices, and where she engaged in “debate” with US industry executives, demanding that in future an Indian representative be given a formal place at these events to present India’s side of the story. Shortly thereafter, US officials were busy cavity-searching, humiliating, and deporting the woman who dared confront the IP kings of AmCham and the US pharma industry.
Preet Bharara later confirmed in an autobiography that Devyani Khobragade was indeed strip-searched and cavity-searched, and acknowledged, “That could have and should have been avoided, given that no one would have sought pretrial detention.” (7) A bit too little and a bit too late.
The official position of all civilised nations toward a foreign diplomat resident in their countries is that “He is a diplomat and has the privileges of a diplomat. If you’re a diplomat and you commit any crime, the case is investigated and is forwarded to your embassy. That’s what the law says and we work within the law”. However, the official position of the American government toward foreign diplomats in the US is different. A State Department “guidance paper” for American law enforcement officials on how diplomatic immunity works even at the highest levels says that “diplomatic immunity is not intended to serve as a license for persons to flout the law and purposely avoid liability for their actions. The purpose of these privileges and immunities is not to benefit individuals but to ensure the efficient and effective performance of their official missions on behalf of their governments.”
In short, a foreign diplomat in the US has no immunity against prosecution by the US government for offenses real or imagined, but US citizens in other nations, diplomats or not, have full immunity even when clearly engaged in illegal activities that include drunk or reckless driving, espionage, and murder.
There are literally hundreds of cases where US consular officials in all countries regularly flout domestic labor and many other laws. American employment contracts in other countries are regularly violated with impunity, and typically specify that all staff issues including compensation will be decided exclusively by the US consular staff with no recourse to either domestic or US law – contract wording that is itself illegal, since no contract anywhere can eliminate recourse to local courts. But then, these are Americans, and their world is apparently different than ours. Americans in all countries violate both domestic tax laws and their visa status, in all cases being protected by the US government claiming “diplomatic status” for those who are clearly non-diplomats.
Here is another incident, this one from the other side of the fence. In January of 2011, CIA agent Raymond Davis was driving down a street in Lahore, Pakistan, when he stopped at a red light. A motorbike carrying two Pakistani Intelligence agents keeping Davis under surveillance due to suspicion of criminal activities, pulled in front of his car. Davis drew an automatic weapon and killed both men, claiming they had attempted to rob him and that he acted in self-defense. (8) (9) But the documented facts from multiple witnesses clearly proved that Davis initiated the violence. When the motorcycle stopped in front of his car, Davis first fired five shots through the windshield, killing one man and injuring the other, then got out of his vehicle, shot four more rounds into the two men as they lay on the pavement, then four more shots into one man’s back as he was trying to crawl away, killing him as well. Witnesses testified that Davis then walked back to his car, called for backup on a military radio, then took photos of the men he had just killed. One witness who watched from his restaurant across the street, said he was amazed at the American’s manner. “He was very peaceful and confident. I was wondering how he could be like that after killing two people,” he said.
这是另一件事，这件事来自篱笆的另一边。2011年1月，中情局特工雷蒙德·戴维斯（Raymond Davis）在巴基斯坦拉合尔（Lahore）的一条街道上开车时，在红灯前停下。一辆载有两名巴基斯坦情报人员的摩托车停在戴维斯的车前，戴维斯因涉嫌犯罪活动而受到监视。戴维斯拔出自动武器杀死了两人，声称他们试图抢劫他，他是出于自卫。(8)(9) 但来自多个证人的记录事实清楚地证明，戴维斯引发了暴力。当摩托车停在他的车前时，戴维斯首先向挡风玻璃开了五枪，打死一人，打伤另一人，然后下车，在两人躺在人行道上时又向他们开了四枪，然后在一人试图爬离时又向他的背部开了四炮，也将他打死。目击者作证说，戴维斯随后走回自己的汽车，通过军用无线电呼叫支援，然后拍下了他刚刚杀死的人的照片。一名目击者在街对面的餐馆里看着他说，他对这位美国人的举止感到惊讶。他说：“他非常平静和自信。我想知道他在杀了两个人后怎么会这样。”。
Minutes later, four Americans in a Toyota jeep with fake registration plates left Davis’ home and made a frantic but unsuccessful attempt to reach Davis and rescue him. Finding their vehicle trapped in a traffic jam, they crossed the median and traveled against the oncoming traffic, colliding with a motorcycle and killing the driver. After the accident, they fled the scene and drove at high speed to the US Embassy, jettisoning many bits of evidence along the way including 100 bullets, knives, gloves, a blindfold. Witnesses later told police that one American opened the door to their vehicle, displayed a rifle and threatened to kill anyone who got in their way.
Davis also attempted to escape in his vehicle but was apprehended and charged with double murder, espionage and the illegal possession of a firearm. Although Davis was part of the CIA’s Global Response Staff, he was at the time doing some contract espionage work for Xe Services, the private company formerly known as Blackwater that was involved in a multitude of scandals in Iraq that included mass murders and many other crimes. Items recovered from Davis’s car included a Glock handgun, an infrared light, a portable telescope, GPS equipment, two mobile phones, a satellite phone, 9mm ammunition, multiple ATM and military ID cards, multiple ID cards from several different US consulates, facial disguise and makeup, and a camera. According to Pakistani officials, Davis’ camera contained photos of “prohibited areas such as installations along the border with India”, stating “This is not the work of a diplomat. He was doing espionage and other activities”. (10) (11) (12) (13)
戴维斯还试图乘坐自己的汽车逃跑，但被逮捕并被控双重谋杀、间谍和非法持有枪支。尽管戴维斯是中情局全球反应工作人员的一部分，但他当时正在为Xe服务公司（前身为黑水公司）做一些合同间谍工作，该公司参与了伊拉克的多起丑闻，包括大规模谋杀和许多其他罪行。从戴维斯的车上找到的物品包括一把格洛克手枪、一盏红外光、一台便携式望远镜、GPS设备、两部手机、一部卫星电话、9毫米弹药、多张ATM和军用身份证、多张美国领事馆的身份证、面部伪装和化妆以及一台照相机。据巴基斯坦官员称，戴维斯的相机中有“禁止区域，如与印度接壤的设施”的照片，称“这不是外交官的工作，他从事间谍活动和其他活动”。(10) (11) (12) (13)
Then-US President Obama demanded that Pakistan free “our diplomat” under the Vienna convention rules, and the State Department exerted fierce and unrelenting pressure on Pakistan to release Davis. US officials insisted Davis was a diplomat doing “technical and administrative work” at the embassy and had to be treated as such, though he was a common criminal in the country on a tourist passport, had no diplomatic credentials and no consular functions. Pakistani officials demanded the US turn over for questioning the men in the Embassy who had attempted to rescue Davis and had killed the motorcyclist, but the Americans refused and spirited the men out of Pakistan. Davis was released after the families of the two killed men were paid $2.4 million in what is called “blood money”.
In another incident, in August of 2013 an American diplomat, Joshua Walde, an information management officer at the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, was driving his SUV at a high rate of speed when he made an illegal turn, crossed the highway center line, and rammed into a full mini-bus, killing a father of three whose widow was six months pregnant, and seriously injuring eight other people. (14) (15) US Embassy officials in Nairobi took advantage of Walde’s diplomatic immunity and rushed the American and his family out of Kenya the next day, leaving the crash victims with no financial assistance. Officials noted that embassy employees are typically evacuated “for medical evaluations” after traumatic events but also are flown out of a country “to avoid any possible retribution”. Hilary Renner, a State Department spokeswoman in Washington, said the embassy extends “its deepest condolences” to the family of the dead man, and “wishes a speedy recovery” to those injured.
在另一起事件中，2013年8月，美国驻肯尼亚内罗毕大使馆信息管理官员约书亚·瓦尔德（Joshua Walde）驾驶他的SUV高速行驶，非法转弯，越过高速公路中心线，撞上一辆满载的小型巴士，杀死了一名三个孩子的父亲，他的遗孀怀孕六个月，并造成另外8人重伤。(14) (15)驻内罗毕的美国大使馆官员利用瓦尔德的外交豁免权，第二天将该美国人及其家人赶出肯尼亚，使坠机遇难者得不到任何经济援助。官员们指出，大使馆员工通常在发生创伤事件后被疏散“进行医疗评估”，但也会被空运出境“以避免任何可能的报复”。美国国务院驻华盛顿发言人希拉里·雷纳（Hilary Renner）表示，美国大使馆向死者家属表示“最深切的哀悼”，并“祝愿伤者早日康复”。
More recently we had the case of Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American employed at a UK consulate, who was formally charged in the death of British teenager Harry Dunn. Sacoolas was driving her car on the wrong side of the road, perhaps while impaired, and crashed into Dunn’s motorcycle, killing him. Sacoolas spoke later to the police, but then immediately headed for the airport and left the UK, claiming “diplomatic immunity” when of course she had none. However, the Americans refused to release her to return to the UK to stand trial. (16) (17) Once safe at home in the US, Ms. Sacoolas offered to perform some “community service” as penance. Here are some media details if you are interested in more information: (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (23)
最近，我们看到了安妮·萨科拉斯的案件，她是一名受雇于英国领事馆的美国人的妻子，她被正式指控与英国青少年哈里·邓恩的死亡有关。Sacoolas在道路的另一边驾驶她的车，可能是在受伤的时候，撞上了Dunn的摩托车，导致他死亡。萨科拉斯后来向警方发表了讲话，但随后立即前往机场并离开了英国，声称享有“外交豁免权”，而她当然没有。然而，美国拒绝释放她返回英国受审。(16)(17) 在美国安全到家后，萨科拉斯女士主动提出提供一些“社区服务”作为赎罪。如果您对更多信息感兴趣，以下是一些媒体详细信息：(18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (23)
A current case is that of an American soldier in Italy, a young woman named Julia Bravo, who has been charged with vehicular homicide. Prosecutors in Pordenone, in Italy’s Northeast, charged the 20-year-old female soldier stationed at the US Air Force’s Aviano Air Base with vehicular manslaughter in the auto death of a young boy in Italy.
According to witness testimony, Bravo had left a disco in the small hours of the morning, was subsequently seen driving erratically on the road, drove over and through a traffic circle, crossed a median, crashed through a group of road signs at high speed and hit a group of young boys walking on the roadside, killing one of them instantly. According to an eyewitness who had been partying in the same club, Bravo was so drunk “she couldn’t even turn the ignition on”, and at first drove off in the opposite direction of her military base. The police said her blood-alcohol level was four times the legal limit.
The dead boy’s mother said, “We all know that the soldiers on the Aviano base in this area do what they like, that they don’t respect the rules. There have been many incidents in the past that involved American troops. They have the freedom to do whatever they like and not be punished.” The mother told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that she wanted the soldier tried in Italy. “I don’t trust the American justice system.” However, the chance of that appears slight since the US Embassy is apparently exerting enormous pressure on the Italians to have the woman sent to the US for a “prosecution” which will never take place. (24) (25) (26) (27) (28)
死者的母亲说， “我们都知道，该地区阿维亚诺基地的士兵做他们喜欢做的事，他们不遵守规则。过去发生过许多涉及美国军队的事件。他们有自由做他们喜欢的事，不受惩罚。”这位母亲告诉《晚邮报》，她希望该士兵在接受审判时，能在法庭上受到惩罚意大利北部。“我不相信美国的司法系统。”然而，这种可能性似乎很小，因为美国大使馆显然正在向意大利人施加巨大压力，要求将这名女子送往美国进行“起诉”，而这一起诉永远不会发生(24) (25) (26) (27) (28)
However, being American, our sympathies must lie with the perpetrator. Her lawyer told the Italian media that his client was “extremely emotionally exhausted” from expressing her remorse and apologising to the family.
Capt. Richard Ashby
There have been many such occurrences involving US military personnel in countries throughout Europe and Asia, and invariably with the US applying immense diplomatic and military bullying to prevent Americans from being subject to the laws of any country. One notable case occurred some years back where a Capt. Richard Ashby, flying a military jet aircraft in Northern Italy, was displaying what he boasted as a “daredevil stunt” and severed the cables of a cable car line at an Italian ski resort, sending 20 people to their death. The military restrictions prohibited flight below 1,000 feet above ground level and at speeds more than 500 mph. Ashby was flying his aircraft at little over 300 feet and at more than 1,000 Kph when the accident occurred. (29) (30) (31)
在整个欧洲和亚洲国家发生过许多涉及美国军事人员的此类事件，而且美国总是运用巨大的外交和军事欺凌来防止美国人受到任何国家法律的约束。几年前发生了一个值得注意的案例，一位名叫理查德·阿什比（Richard Ashby）的上尉在意大利北部驾驶一架军用喷气式飞机，展示了他吹嘘的“胆大妄为的特技”，并在意大利一个滑雪胜地切断了缆车缆绳，导致20人死亡。军事限制禁止飞行低于地面1000英尺，速度超过500英里/小时。事故发生时，阿什比正以300英尺多一点的速度飞行，时速超过1000公里。(29) (30) (31)
Italian prosecutors had wanted four US airmen, including Ashby and his co-pilot, Capt. Joseph Schweitzer, and three officers from the US base at Aviano, to face charges of manslaughter and endangering the safety of transport, but the Americans bullied the Italians into surrendering the prisoners to an American court. Naturally, all were found not guilty of all charges. The Italians were infuriated, but there was nothing to be done. People still ask today why has no one has even been held to account for that tragedy. (32) (33)
One of the distressing features of today’s world is that it is not only the US that has apparently abandoned any pretense of adhering to a rule of law; most other Western nations are as guilty, and some perhaps even more so.
Think of Canada during the recent truckers’ protest in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first had the nation’s law enforcement agencies track down the ownership of the vehicles and extort the insurance companies into canceling the insurance on all the trucks. When that failed, they used every manner of access to determine the identity of all protesters and forced the banks to freeze the accounts of all participants. When that still failed to frighten off the protesters, Trudeau had the local governments begin seizing the semi-trailers and selling them ($150,000 to $200,000 each) “to pay the costs of monitoring the protest”. All actions were openly and reprehensibly illegal, against all manner of law and justice, but seemingly of no concern.
It is incredible, unbelievable, that the government of any civilised country, the so-called democracies and “free nations”, could behave in such a manner, and yet this is where we are. The few examples in this essay are of rampant criminality and the immunity that comes with uncontrolled power in the hands of the wrong people. It is no longer a matter of law but of power to do. The US government recently confiscated the entire assets of Afghanistan’s central bank and arbitrarily decided to “donate” the money to American 9-11 victims. That is not different than seizing the assets of Russia’s central bank, and keeping the money, not different than seizing a $100 million yacht owned by an innocent individual, and selling it and keeping the money – because he’s Russian.
We see articles today warning us of the impending degeneration of the US and the West into totalitarian fascism, but that’s a delusion: we’re already there, but nobody seems to know. If you are on the wrong side of the political fence today, your life could easily become miserable and short. Dissidence is no longer a requirement; innocent questioning of the official narrative will be sufficient. By the time everyone wakes up, it will be too late and we will be in the middle of World War Three.
Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated into 32 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100 English language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new anthology ‘When China Sneezes’. (Chapt. 2 — Dealing with Demons).
His full archive can be seen at
https://www.bluemoonofshanghai.com/ + https://www.moonofshanghai.com/
He can be contacted at:
(2) IFS officer Devyani Khobragade, who was stripped searched in US, promoted after 7-month wait
(3) Who is Devyani Khobragade, the Indian diplomat at the center of the firestorm?
(4) Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade leaves US under immunity
(5) U.S. officials made a mistake that led to Indian diplomat’s arrest and strip search over visa application for maid
(6) Devyani Khobragade: Diplomat row charges dropped in US
(7) Preet Bharara says diplomat was strip-searched, could’ve been avoided
（7） Preet Bharara说外交官被脱衣搜查，本来可以避免的
(8) American who sparked diplomatic crisis over Lahore shooting was CIA spy
(9) US gives fresh details of CIA agent who killed two men in Pakistan shootout
(10) CIA killer Raymond Davis released by Pakistani authorities
(11) CIA contractor Ray Davis freed over Pakistan killings
(12) Revealed: What CIA agent was really doing in Lahore as it emerges even Pakistan officials are ‘worried for his safety’
(13) Pakistan defiant in face of US pressure to free CIA agent
(18) Anne Sacoolas to face UK court over death of Harry Dunn
(19) ANNE SACOOLAS has reached a “resolution” with Harry Dunn’s family after the teenager was killed in a car accident with her behind the wheel in 2019.
（19） 安妮·萨科拉斯（ANNE SACOOLAS）与哈里·邓恩（Harry Dunn）的家人达成了一项“决议”，这名少年在2019年与她一起驾驶的车祸中丧生。
(20) Anne Sacoolas: Harry Dunn suspect ‘willing to do community service’
(21) Case against American woman accused of killing a UK teenager can go ahead in the US, judge rules
(22) The fugitive: US spy’s wife Anne Sacoolas is pictured driving HER children on the school run in America after fleeing Britain following car crash that killed teenager Harry Dunn
（22）逃犯：美国间谍的妻子安妮·萨科拉斯（Anne Sacoolas）被拍到开车带着她的孩子在美国的学校跑步，她是在少年哈里·邓恩（Harry Dunn）死于车祸后逃离英国的
(23) US woman who killed teen biker Harry Dunn wouldn’t face prosecution in America, lawyer claims
(24) U.S. servicewoman in Italy charged with vehicular homicide in drunk driving accident
(25) American service member, 20, is arrested in Italy for hitting and killing 15-year-old boy with her car while ‘driving drunk’
(26) Drunk US soldier kills boy in Italy
The American airwoman hit the 15-year-old while driving four times over the legal blood alcohol limit
(27) US soldier held in Italy for allegedly killing 15-year-old while driving four times over legal alcohol limit
(28) US soldier under house arrest in Italy after driving drunk, killing teen
(29) 20 die as US warplane hits cable car in Italian resort
(30) 20 Die in Italy As U.S. Jet Cuts A Ski Lift Cable
(31) Cable Car Plunges in Italy, Killing at Least 14 People
(32) US pilot who killed twenty on ski gondola acquitted
(33) Cavalese cable-car disaster: It’s 20 years since a US aircraft killed 20 people in the Dolomites and still no one accepts responsibility.
Copyright © Larry Romanoff, Blue Moon of Shanghai, Moon of Shanghai, 2022