28 Aug Is Qaddafi Going to Pitch His Tent in New Jersey? [REVISED]
The local news in New York and New Jersey is abuzz this morning with unconfirmed rumors that, for the opening of this year’s UN General Assembly, Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi is planning to stay in an air-conditioned “Bedouin-style” tent on the grounds of a residence owned by the Libyan government in Englewood, New Jersey, a suburban town of 30,000. According to the NY Times, he originally wanted to pitch his tent in Central Park, but that idea was nixed by NY city officials.
On the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, Congressperson Steve Rothman argued that while the U.S. has obligations under the UN Headquarters Agreement to allow Qaddafi into the country to attend UN meetings, that does not extend to his being able to choose to stay anywhere in the country. He may have been referring to Sec.13(d) of the Agreement, which states:
Except as provided above in this section and in the General Convention, the United States retains full control and authority over the entry of persons or property into the territory of the United States and the conditions under which persons way remain or reside there
Rothman, who, as it happens, had been the mayor of Englewood in 1982 when the Libyan government purchased the property, also argues that this issue has already been dealt with by the State Department. In 1982, he had asked the Reagan Administration for a finding curtailing the property’s use, which resulted in a State Department statement that only the Libyan Ambassador could reside there. (I have not seen the document, so I don’t know exactly what it is.)Rothman’s interpretation is that this precludes Qaddafi from staying there for any length. His interpretation is in part based on what he says was the intent of the declaration which was to prevent the land in Englewood from being used to house Qaddafi–or any other head of state–based on the concern that Englewood did not have the means to guarantee security for a head of state and that it would be too disruptive for town residents.
The Times reports that
A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday, “We expect we’ll be able to come to an arrangement that will respect the sensitivities of the local population.”
[REVISION: I have realized that in the version originally posted, I inadvertantly left out that Qaddafi was planning on staying in the tent during the opening of this year’s General Assembly. I have corrected the original version of the text.]