Airport patdown enrages diplomat - Page 2

Airport patdown enrages diplomat

This is a discussion on Airport patdown enrages diplomat within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Question for OPFOR. What is off limits when it comes to Diplomats. Do Diplomats have protection in a car the has consul plates on it. ...

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Thread: Airport patdown enrages diplomat

  1. #16
    VIP Member Array HKinNY's Avatar
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    Question for OPFOR. What is off limits when it comes to Diplomats. Do Diplomats have protection in a car the has consul plates on it. Does Diplomatic imunity prevent them from getting a moving violation ticket? What about killing somebody? Do they get a free pass on US soil to be tried in their court back home? What is the real deal?


  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by HKinNY View Post
    Question for OPFOR. What is off limits when it comes to Diplomats. Do Diplomats have protection in a car the has consul plates on it. Does Diplomatic imunity prevent them from getting a moving violation ticket? What about killing somebody? Do they get a free pass on US soil to be tried in their court back home? What is the real deal?
    Hitch, I recall that when I lived in NY there were constant problems with UN diplomats parking where ever they pleased and in general just being jerks. This was especially true of the Russian/Eastern European cold war involved diplomats. NY put some considerable pressure on D.C. to find a solution. I don't recall the details.

    My understanding is that when someone holds full diplomatic immunity the only thing we can do to them is expel them from the U.S.

    Again, things are never that simple and no doubt there are many agreements between us and other countries which speak to specifics.

    The important thing to remember is that diplomatic immunity is as much for the protection of OUR folks working overseas as it is for the protection of foreign diplomats working here. When we don't grant the courtesies required, we put our people at risk. It is that aspect which makes things like this incident serious.

  3. #18
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    Despite Hopyards concerns to the contrary, being a diplomat has only very specific immunities. First, there are several "levels" of immunity, full diplomatic immunity being the highest (consular and adminitrative/technical staff being other levels). A fully accredited diplomat with "full" immunity has immunity from arrest, search, detention or basically any other interference with them once their diplomatic status has been confirmed. This extends to their homes and cars, but NOT to security screening at airports, or, for example, trying to get into a facility that is barred to public access (like foreign government offices). Simply put, yes: if I (as a fully accredited diplomat) commit a crime in the country in which I am accredited, all the host govt can do is declare me "persona non grata" and kick me out of the country.

    Traffic tickets and so on are another matter - we have no immunity from parking or traffic laws (though we could, technically), and can be fined just like anyone else. Of course, we are immune to prosecution if we don't pay, which is why the diplomatic community in NYC owes the govt MILLIONS in fines that will never be collected...

    An important thing to remember is that the immunity is held by the diplomat's GOVERNMENT, not by the individual. If the US Govt chooses, they can waive my immunity and allow me to be prosecuted by the host govt (we asked the Georgian govt to do this in 1997 when one of their senior diplomats killed a teenager while drunk-driving...they did, and he was tried and convicted in the US).

    Look, the law as I understand it - and live it, every day - is that diplomats get NO exception or special treatment at airport security checkpoints. I have literally been through hundreds, in a dozen different countries, and I have NEVER been allowed to bypass security. Even when traveling armed abroad (which I do often) requires special permits and a lot of extra paperwork, and I still get screened. TSA pays absolutely no attention to MY diplomatic passport, nor does any other country allow me (or any other non Chief of Mission) to bypass security at airports. This is only news because it was an Ambassador from a major, allied nation, and because she was subjected to "secondary" screening, in a public place. It was STUPID of TSA, and State will do whatever they can to ensure that TSA knows how STUPID it was... But it is not against the law, and there's nothing State can really do to change that law.

    Yes, State is embarrassed, because an Ambassador SHOULD be allowed to bypass security (they've done it for US Ambassadors in every country I've served in), but it is not part and parcel of standard diplomatic immunities. Additionally, neither the Cabinet nor the President has any say in these sorts of things - they are international agreements that have been formalized in the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations. State can no more order DHS to do anything any more than they could order the Army to invade something or the FBI to arrest someone...
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

  4. #19
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    Just for clarity, when you write that TSA pays no attention to your diplomatic status, that is as it should be. It is the security folks where you are accredited who should or might, depending on the details of the deal between countries and relevant treaties.

    OPFOR wrote: "This is only news because it was an Ambassador from a major, allied nation, "

    It would be bigger news if it was an Ambassador from a hostile nation.

    I think you correctly pointed out that there are different levels of immunities, let's say courtesies, extended to the various levels of diplomatic personnel. I'd expect TSA employees to be properly instructed.

    Now, a related question OPFOR. Would you permit a search of your laptop or smart phone by foreign airport security or foreign customs? That is, would you permit such a search in the country to which you are accredited?

    If not, why do your personal effects (Uncle's property) get more respect than you, Uncle's employee and representative?

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    They can, and do, search my stuff when I travel. No security procedure at any airport that I'm aware of requires security personnel to go through electronic files, so, no, I wouldn't let them. But that's really a moot point that has no bearing on this discussion - I can't smuggle a bomb on a .jpg.

    My luggage gets screened - in Jordan I was literally pulled into the "smoky back room" because they found a compass (gasp!) in my checked bags. No foreign govt, anywhere, has ever allowed me or any other diplomat that I'm aware of (save Ambassadors) has ever been allowed to bypass security screening. I don't WANT that to be the case, either...we (the US) have no idea if foreign diplomats are "good guys" are not - and many of them, unfortunately, are not.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

  6. #21
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    A congressman saying common sense at some point should prevail LOL,There is no such thing as common sense,they legislated common sense away

    +1
    By golly you have got it down right. For sure there is no common sense to be found in the congress or the white hliuse.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by OPFOR View Post
    They can, and do, search my stuff when I travel. No security procedure at any airport that I'm aware of requires security personnel to go through electronic files, so, no, I wouldn't let them.
    O.K. I asked because I had an interesting related experience one time but I don't want to go into it here.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by OPFOR View Post
    They can, and do, search my stuff when I travel. No security procedure at any airport that I'm aware of requires security personnel to go through electronic files, so, no, I wouldn't let them. But that's really a moot point that has no bearing on this discussion - I can't smuggle a bomb on a .jpg.

    My luggage gets screened - in Jordan I was literally pulled into the "smoky back room" because they found a compass (gasp!) in my checked bags. No foreign govt, anywhere, has ever allowed me or any other diplomat that I'm aware of (save Ambassadors) has ever been allowed to bypass security screening. I don't WANT that to be the case, either...we (the US) have no idea if foreign diplomats are "good guys" are not - and many of them, unfortunately, are not.
    I think it would also make a difference in Hopyard's question, that unless you have some really questionable tattoo quoting classified or sensitive material, they aren't going to get any from a body search. By going through file on a smart phone or computer, depending on the whose it was, they could.

    Was your compass military grade with radioactive materials?
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

    Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
    NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor

  9. #24
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    Yeah, it was a basic military issue lensatic compass. You would have thought I had a nuclear device for all the guff they gave me. Thankfully, I don't think they knew what the protractor was...and my GPS got overlooked as a cell phone or something!
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

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