Newt's New Fear

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Isikoff

The chief of Interpol--the international police organization based in Lyon, France--is denouncing as "false and irresponsible" a conspiracy theory spreading through the right-wing blogosphere suggesting that President Obama has given the agency new powers to investigate and arrest U.S. citizens. The claim stems from an executive order Obama signed on Dec. 17 that gives Interpol the same "immunities and privileges" as other international organizations with offices in the United States. White House officials say the order is routine--and was actually in the works during the Bush administration. But in recent days, the idea that Obama has empowered a "global police force" to operate inside the country has gained new currency thanks to endorsements by several high-profile conservative figures, including Fox News host Glenn Beck and former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. In a spot with Bill O'Reilly last week, Gingrich said that Obama had "quietly" signed an order that lifts "all the constraints" on Interpol and gives it "extra" legal powers to investigate Americans. "This is not within the realm of reality," says Ronald Noble, Interpol's secretary-general, who formerly served as the Treasury Department's chief law-enforcement official. What especially worries him, Noble says, is that the comments by Gingrich and others could undermine one of Interpol's chief missions--helping the U. …