The Hypocrisy Of The Leahy Law And How It Has Exposed American Police

How many of you know what the Leahy Law is? You’ve prob­a­bly nev­er heard about it before today. Still, in the con­text in which I will frame this com­men­tary, it is impor­tant to con­sid­er the Leahy law and what has been hap­pen­ing in the United States on the racial jus­tice front.

1. What is the Leahy law?

  • (1) The term “Leahy law” refers to two statu­to­ry pro­vi­sions pro­hibit­ing the U.S. Government from using funds for assis­tance to units of for­eign secu­ri­ty forces where there is cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion impli­cat­ing that unit in the com­mis­sion of gross vio­la­tions of human rights (GVHR). One statu­to­ry pro­vi­sion applies to the State Department, and the oth­er applies to the Department of Defense. The State Department Leahy law was made per­ma­nent under sec­tion 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, 22 U.S.C. 2378d. The U.S. gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers tor­ture, extra­ju­di­cial killing, enforced dis­ap­pear­ance, and rape under the col­or of law as GVHRs when imple­ment­ing the Leahy law. Incidents are exam­ined on a fact-spe­cif­ic basis. The State Department Leahy law includes an excep­tion per­mit­ting the resump­tion of assis­tance to a unit if the Secretary of State deter­mines and reports to Congress that the gov­ern­ment of the coun­try is tak­ing effec­tive steps to bring the respon­si­ble mem­bers of the secu­ri­ty forces unit to justice.
Authorities guard the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct as demonstrators rally outside after the murder trial against the forme

A ver­i­ta­ble war zone.

  • The DoD Leahy law is sim­i­lar to the State Leahy law. Since 1999, Congress has includ­ed the DoD Leahy law in its annu­al appro­pri­a­tions act. The DoD Leahy law is now per­ma­nent in Section 362 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code. It requires that DoD-appro­pri­at­ed funds not be used for any train­ing, equip­ment, or oth­er assis­tance for a for­eign secu­ri­ty force unit if the Secretary of Defense has cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion that such unit has com­mit­ted a GVHR. The law allows for two excep­tions to this restric­tion. The first in cas­es where the Secretary of Defense (after con­sul­ta­tion with the Secretary of State) deter­mines that the coun­try’s gov­ern­ment has tak­en all nec­es­sary cor­rec­tive steps. This first excep­tion is also known as “reme­di­a­tion.” A sec­ond excep­tion exists if U.S. equip­ment or oth­er assis­tance is nec­es­sary to assist in dis­as­ter relief oper­a­tions or oth­er human­i­tar­i­an or nation­al secu­ri­ty emergencies.
  • The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2015 autho­rizes DoD to con­duct train­ing to pro­mote respect for the rule of law and human rights, includ­ing for oth­er­wise Leahy-inel­i­gi­ble units under cer­tain cir­cum­stances. This train­ing may be con­duct­ed with the con­cur­rence of the Secretary of State and is with­held from any indi­vid­ual of a unit when there is cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion that such indi­vid­ual has com­mit­ted GVHR (or has com­mand­ed a unit that has com­mit­ted a GVHR). 

    Protestors demonstrate near the Hennepin County Government Center on April 19, 2021, the day of closing arguments and the beg

    Americans of all races turned out on April 19th as they await the ver­dict in the Derek Chauvin mur­der trial.

The law was named after Vermont’s US Senator Patrick Leahy(D), the prin­ci­pal spon­sor of the leg­is­la­tion. The leg­is­la­tion as it was craft­ed seemed to make a world of sense. After all, the American peo­ple should have clear stip­u­la­tions on how their tax dol­lars are being spent; one would not want tax dol­lars fund­ing rogue regimes in despot­ic banana republics, you know, in the shit-hole coun­tries. Just ensure that we send bil­lions and bil­lions each year to the only democ­ra­cy in the mid­dle east, Israel(sic).
That aside, let us con­sid­er that many mem­bers of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) had their US visas and green cards revoked and their names dragged through the mud. This is the leg­is­la­tion that made all of that possible.
The law stip­u­lates that assis­tance may be pro­hib­it­ed to units of for­eign secu­ri­ty forces where cred­i­ble infor­ma­tion impli­cates that unit in the com­mis­sion of gross vio­la­tions of human rights.
It also stip­u­lates the con­di­tions under which the Department of State would access the infor­ma­tion as laid out in sec­tion (2) above.

A police officer looks out at protestors through fencing and barbed wire near the Hennepin County Government Center on April

A police offi­cer looks out at pro­tes­tors through fenc­ing and barbed wire near the Hennepin County Government Center on April 19, 2021. The result of ignor­ing police abuse of seg­ments of the pop­u­la­tion while focus­ing on oth­er coun­try’s police.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers tor­ture, extra­ju­di­cial killing, enforced dis­ap­pear­ance, and rape under the col­or of law as GVHRs when imple­ment­ing the Leahy law.
For those of you who have toiled in Jamaica as a mem­ber of the JCF or the JDF, and if you were pay­ing atten­tion, you would recall that the US Government used this law to pun­ish the JCF using the slant­ed, inflam­ma­to­ry lies ped­dled by the now-dis­graced baby doc­tor Carolyn Gomes as proof of extra­ju­di­cial killings by the secu­ri­ty forces.
No one should be delud­ed into think­ing that there have not remained rogue ele­ments with­in the Jamaican secu­ri­ty appa­ra­tus. They exist in all secu­ri­ty orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing over 18,000 police agen­cies oper­at­ing across the United States.
It is also impor­tant to under­stand that Jamaica is one of the most vio­lent nations on the plan­et; it also has one of the world’s low­est offi­cers’ cit­i­zen ratio. In con­clud­ing that Jamaica’s Police use of lethal force led up to puni­tive actions by the United States against Jamaica, one must con­sid­er all of the facts. It includes decou­pling each police-relat­ed killing from the chain called [extra­ju­di­cial killings] and exam­ine each case based on the evidence.
As American police con­tin­ue to kill.….….mind you, unarmed hand­cuffed African-Americans, we hear the con­stant refrain that we must con­sid­er the evi­dence of each case individually.
Smaller, less pow­er­ful gov­ern­ments do not receive that def­er­ence from the United States when alle­ga­tions are made against their secu­ri­ty forces, usu­al­ly by actors with spe­cif­ic agen­das anti­thet­i­cal to their own coun­try’s inter­est, à la Carolyn Gomes and Jamaicans for jus­tice.

National Guard members are seen as a person flies a Black Lives Matter flag during a rally outside of the Hennepin County Gov

Minnesota today, sol­diers deployed against American cit­i­zens. American police brought the coun­try to this.

The hypocrisy inher­ent in the way the Leahy Law has been applied, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Jamaica, is in the qual­i­ty of the infor­ma­tion or should I say the lack there­of, on which the Jamaican Government was forced to shut down effec­tive units of the secu­ri­ty forces, includ­ing the Mobile reserve out of fear that the crumbs would imme­di­ate­ly dry up from America’s table.
Ironically, the shut­ting down of those units has inevitably led the coun­try clos­er to becom­ing a failed state. Jamaica is now unable to deal with its worst actors effectively.
This results from years of sub­ver­sive activ­i­ties orches­trat­ed by Jamaicans for Justice and Carolyn Gomes, its chief architect.
As African-Americans and con­sci­en­tious peo­ple of all col­or in the United States and across the plan­et await with bat­ed breath, to see if final­ly, just once, America can get it right on jus­tice; it has been the police that brought us to this point.
American cops!!
America has nev­er done what’s right for African-Americans. Not at the Federal lev­el. Not at the state lev­el. Not at the com­mu­ni­ty lev­el. There is no basis, not a sin­gle prece­dent that would cause me to believe that even at this the most basic lev­el, a lev­el of only a few white peo­ple on a jury, we will not have a hung jury. But I hope for the peace of the coun­try that I am wrong this time. That even with the most heinous of mur­ders com­mit­ted, as we watched in shocked dis­be­lief, a mur­der that trau­ma­tized and gal­va­nized the entire world, that a hand­ful of white peo­ple will have that small­est shred of basic human­i­ty and decen­cy to do the right thing.


Mike Beckles is a for­mer Police Detective, busi­ness­man, free­lance writer, black achiev­er hon­oree, and cre­ator of the blog mike​beck​les​.com.