What is Interpol?

The basics about the founding of Interpol or the International Criminal Police Organization and its function in the world.

The Men from Interpol

By Vaughn Young

Formed in 1924, the International Criminal Police Organization has come to be known best by its cable designation, "Interpol." With its world headquarters in St. Coud, a Paris suburb, Interpol is, to the casual observer, an admirable effort: cooperation among the police of various nations to apprehend criminals, control drug traffic across international borders, and similar activities. To the surprise of many, however, Interpol is a private organization to which law enforcement agencies of over 100 nations belong and pay annual dues. Its position and growth have stemmed entirely from the support of these police around the world, whence comes the mistaken belief that Interpol is a legally constituted international agency.

Throughout its history, Interpol has worked only with the national police force of each country. In the U.S., which officially has no national police force, Interpol is funded, staffed, and housed by the Treasury Department, across the street from the White House. With a direct hookup to the computerized National Crime Information Center (NCIC) run by the FBI and direct contact to State and local police, over 100 Interpol nations have access to U.S. files and records denied the American citizen.

With the growing amount of information being collected and kept by government agencies, such unregulated access to confidential files and records by a private organization serving 100 foreign police groups has disturbed a number of citizens. Any police state, or private group via their police, can obtain information on American citizens, businesses, clubs, diplomats and tourists, immigrants, suspected agents, without regard to validity, relevance, truth, or source. In turn, a foreign agency could even plant information in U.S. Government files, a possibility even more frightening due to its counterintelligence aspect.

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