Wed, 17 Dec 2003

Capturing international criminals

Should a criminal or terrorist commit a violent and particularly heinous crime against the U.S. or its citizens and then flee to a foreign nation our government should go after the miscreant and bring him here for a taste of our kind of justice. We're convinced most good Americans would agree with that.

But to what lengths should the United States go to capture and bring this international criminal to the bar?

The U.S. Supreme Court should furnish us some guidelines on this issue. It has agreed to rule in the matter of whether U.S. agents can legally sneak into foreign countries to arrest suspected criminals and bring them here for trial.

We are reluctant to prescribe or endorse renegade practices on our national behalf on grounds that other nations, given our example, might feel justified in invading our sovereignty to kidnap a controversial figure who may have sought sanctuary in the Land of the Free. What's more, it is reasonable to expect that most such disputes can be handled by negotiations.

But for that rare case where cooperation does not work out, and where the crime is abominable, we would hate to see the nation's highest court impose an absolute prohibition on the discreet overseas snatch.

-- The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania