than (a) private interest."
Here, the "primary thrust" of the law
protection of the U.S. Postal Service." The court, therefore, concluded:
"The United States government has an absolute duty to maintain the
integrity of the U.S.
Postal System, which includes its postal money
orders, both within the borders and in foreign countries...It is
reasonable to assume that Congress was aware that the integrity of the
postal system and its money orders would be threatened abroad as well as
at home, and it is proper to infer that Congress intended to protect the
government against forgery of these papers wherever the postal system
The U.S. government, then, "has a paramount interest in protecting its
property, wherever located, by assertions of its penal laws...
fraud against the government include by implication acts committed in foreign
Based on these factors, 18 USC Section 500 was deemed to have
Congress recently passed 18 USC Section 2331, which prohibits the commission
of terrorist acts (including murder and certain other forms of physical violence)
when committed "abroad against United States Nationals." This is an example of a
criminal law which applies on an extra-territorial basis. It explicitly prohibits
the commission of certain acts when committed "abroad against United States
Nationals." This language obviously shows that Congress intended this law to apply
outside the Continental United States.
Another antiterrorism law is 18 USC Section 1203, which prohibits hostage
taking overseas, if the offender or victim is a U.S. national, or if the offenders
make demands of the United States government.
Again, by its language, this law
applies on an extraterritorial basis.
You can tell this from the wording of the
Its language clearly shows that Congress intended for this law to
Unless the laws were to be given extraterritorial effect, this
language would be rendered totally meaningless.
Remember, Congress has the power
to pass extraterritorial criminal laws--the only issue is whether it HAS done so.
Here, the answer is yes. Where terrorists kidnap Americans overseas and hold them
hostage, or where they subject the victims to various forms of violent treatment
(including death), the terrorists can be tried in federal courts for their criminal
acts. The statutes mentioned here were Congress' response to the terrorist threat-
-and the need to protect Americans outside the boundaries of the United States.
ASSUMING THE TERRORIST COMMITTED SUCH AN ACT OVERSEAS, HOW WOULD THE
U.S. GAIN CUSTODY OF THE OFFENDER?
THERE ARE SEVERAL POSSIBILITIES. FOR ONE THING, WE MAY ASK ANOTHER NATION
TO EXTRADITE THE OFFENDER TO THE UNITED STATES FOR PROSECUTION. THERE ARE
VARIOUS INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS WHICH COVER THIS SUBJECT.
UNITED STATES AUTHORITIES COULD APPREHEND THE OFFENDER IN INTERNATIONAL
COULD THE FOREIGN GOVERNMENT ALSO PROSECUTE THE OFFENDERS?