Justice Department Does the Dirty Work

Sandy Boyer, co-host of Radio Free Eireann on WBAI in New York City, reports on a move by the U.S. Justice Department to compel Boston College to turn over interviews with Northern Ireland combatants to the British government.

SocialistWorker.org
September 29, 2011

A JUSTICE Department lawsuit against Boston College could derail the Northern Ireland peace process while it threatens to silence the voices of people who have fought against the establishment.

London’s Private Eye magazine says the case “has the potential to damage the power-sharing government of Northern Ireland and the continuing peace process itself. It could even end up with Gerry Adams [the head of Sinn Fein and an architect of the peace process] in the dock charged with one of the most notorious murders/killings of the Troubles.”

The Justice Department has subpoenaed recordings from a groundbreaking oral history of the Northern Ireland conflict so that they can be turned over to the British government. Known as “The Boston Project,” it was sponsored by Boston College where the recordings are held.

Forty to sixty former members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force were interviewed about their role in the conflict. This was only possible because everyone was guaranteed that nothing they said would be made public until after they died.

As the historian Terry Golway wrote in The Irish Echo, the interviewees participated “with the understanding that Boston College would not release their comments until they were dead. That condition was a simple matter of self-defense: participants feared that their candor could lead to violent retribution.”

The British are seeking all recordings about Jean McConville, a mother of 10 who the IRA killed because they believed she was an informer. She was buried in secret, and the IRA long denied they were responsible for her death.

At least two people who were interviewed for the Boston Project, Brendan Hughes and Delours Price, have said that Gerry Adams ordered her killing and the secret burial. Adams denies it, but this would be more credible if he didn’t also deny that he was ever a member of the IRA, something virtually no one believes. Any serious investigation of the case could very easily lead to Gerry Adams being charged with her murder.

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

BUT THE stakes in this case go well beyond the future of Gerry Adams. The lives of the interviewers and the people who told Boston College their stories could be in danger. It will also make it virtually impossible for journalists and historians to protect their sources. This will mean that the public will only hear the stories governments allow them to hear.

Anthony McIntire, who interviewed the former IRA members, has already been threatened with death. The Northern Ireland Sunday World has quoted “republican sources” as saying, “He will be out walking by himself some night on his own, and he will be either stabbed to death or run over by a car to make it look like an accident.”

McIntire has stated in a sworn affidavit:

The level of risk to both myself and those I interviewed was, in my view, substantial. In the Belfast project, it was necessary, in order to produce raw material of serious historical value, to violate the IRA’s code of secrecy. This was not a venture that I as a researcher, nor the interviewees I spoke with for my research, could approach without the strongest sense of gravitas.

He recently told WBAI’s Radio Free Eireann that his sources would be at risk if the tapes are turned over to the British government. “People who gave interviews are being called touts or informers. That can put them in danger…The IRA has taken lives in the past and then denied it.”

Brian Rowan from the Belfast Telegraph has described why journalists, especially in Northern Ireland, need to be able to protect their sources: “If people want to read, listen to and watch the news, then they need to understand what gathering that news entails. That it involves going into dangerous situations. It means protecting sources in order to gather the best information to inform those who are reading, listening and watching.”

Ed Moloney, who directed the Boston project, told Radio Free Eireann that this case goes beyond Northern Ireland:

This has huge implications for historians and journalists in America. It is going to make it far more difficult to get the stories of the actual people who participate in conflicts. If you are interviewing a Black activist from Brooklyn or the Bronx, you are going to be looking over your shoulder because the New York Police Department can come after it to put him in jail.

Now there is an even more alarming threat to civil liberties. The latest Justice Department legal brief contends that not even the courts can review the attorney general’s decision in this case. It argues: “The determinations of the Attorney General challenged in this case are textually committed entirely to his discretion.”

It claims the courts have absolutely no role: “To recognize a right to judicial review of such determinations would entangle the courts in national policy decisions.”

If the courts accept this, it will mean that anytime a foreign government wants information, the attorney general, at his or her sole discretion, can force it to be handed over. It will become a political decision based entirely on U.S. foreign policy.

Imagine for a moment that during the Reagan years, the apartheid regime wanted a reporter’s notes on an interview with a leader of the ANC’s military wing. Since the U.S. saw South Africa as an ally against communism, the Attorney General would almost undoubtedly have ordered that they be turned over.

A court case that first appeared to be about the Northern Ireland peace process has become a threat to our right to learn the truth about the conflicts that can shape our lives.

 

Groups Join BC Fray

Groups Join BC Fray
Irish Echo
28 September, 2011

Leaders of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish American Unity Conference and the Brehon Law Society have joined in protesting subpoenas of records and tapes held by the Burns Library archives of Boston College.

After a series of meetings, representatives of the groups agreed that not only were there valid legal arguments for opposition to the subpoenas, but also foreign policy and morals grounds for doing so.

“We allege,” stated attorney Eammon Dornan, “that the (U.S.) Attorney General who has the authority to grant or deny the subpoena request, has failed to fulfill his responsibilities under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

“That treaty,” said Dornan, “requires Attorney General (Eric) Holder to review the public policy implications of the subpoenas, especially the obligations of other treaties such as the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement of 1998 and the U.S./UK Extradition Treaty.”

Jim Cullen, spokesman for the Brehon Law Society, acknowledged in a statement that other Brehon lawyers and those designated by the AOH and IAUC, were in agreement that meetings with U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U. S. Representative Richard Neal (D-MA). chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs, and others would be undertaken in order to fight the release of any records to the British government “and/or whatever rogue or dissident elements of the PSNI” may have prompted the subpoenas.

“There are compelling arguments that this is little more than a political fishing expedition but there are related issues of the potential endangerment of the lives of researchers (Ed) Moloney and (Anthony) McIntyre and fundamental fairness.

“The British government has spent nearly 40 years refusing to release records of the role of the British Army in the largest atrocity of the entire conflict, the no-warning bombing of Dublin and Monaghan which killed 33 innocent people and maimed another 200 and refusing to allow independent inquiries of the murders of Solicitors Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson by the very same forces seeking the Boston College records,” said Cullen.

“Her majesty’s minions now demand the U.S. government snap to and produce academic records. We are confident that American jurisprudence and/or the American political process will be sensitive to these ironies and will provide relief or redress from this outrageous corruption of law and justice.”

Boston College: Where the Fourth Amendment Goes to Die

Boston College: Where the Fourth Amendment Goes to Die
Cliopatria – History News Network
Chris Bray

In a grotesque brief filed with the federal District Court in Boston on Wednesday (see below), the Department of Justice argued that there is no right of private intervention before the courts against MLAT requests from foreign governments. Watch me draw a circle: The Department of Justice argued that those requests are reviewable only by the Department of Justice. As they put it, “It is apparent from the text of the US-UK MLAT that the determinations of the Attorney General challenged in this case are textually committed entirely to his discretion.” (See this post for immediate background, and these posts for more.)

No role for courts, no role for anyone else — just executive decisions, undertaken at the request of foreign governments, that supposedly cannot be challenged in any way. And, as I’ve said before, the DOJ agrees to keep the purpose of the foreign government’s request a secret, so what we have here are legal proceedings with secret origins, undeclared purposes, and no right to challenge, limit, or appeal them.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon a secret foreign request that no one can challenge. If you think this sounds reasonable, there may be a job waiting for you at the Department of Justice. (“Is that the text of the Fourth Amendment?” “Um…Could be?” “You’re hired! We’ll pay to move you to Boston.”)

The implications of this argument are extraordinary. If it’s correct… Okay, let me start over again: If it prevails, then once the DOJ agrees to a foreign request, you have fewer rights against legal proceedings requested by foreign governments than you do in legal proceedings undertaken solely by your own government. If the British want your documents, and the DOJ says yes, that’s it.

So the premise here is that foreign governments have essentially unrestricted rights to obtain legal evidence in the U.S., subject only to the discretion of Eric Holder, and the courts and those subject to search and seizure have no avenue by which they can restrict the performance of the searches and seizure in question. I know I’m saying the same thing over and over again in different words. I mean to.

If it succeeds, this argument is the death of the Fourth Amendment — the death of it, period — in legal matters originating with foreign governments. If this is how MLATs work, we shouldn’t have MLATs.

And the courts seem to agree that sure, no problem, this is how MLATs work. The premise of the legal intervention that the DOJ is arguing against in this brief is that the US-UK MLAT imposes duties upon the Attorney General that he has failed to perform. (Like asking, Hey, is it a good idea to comply with this request, or is it a request made as part of a political campaign against longtime enemies of the foreign government that is asking me to get this information for them?) So look at pg. 5 of the DOJ’s brief, where they quote a federal appeals court’s opinion on the government’s obligation to comply with the terms of its own treaties. Try not to think of Alice falling down a hole, or K knocking on the door of the Castle:

“For any number of reasons, sovereigns may elect to overlook non-compliance with particular treaty requirements in given cases. Thus, a proper respect for the diplomatic choices of sovereign nations prompts courts generally to apply ‘a strong presumption against inferring individual rights from international treaties.'”

Read that again. Read it a few times.

The treaty says that the government should perform X, Y, and Z duties before it acts on a request from a foreign government, but they may elect to overlook non-compliance — in plain English, that means they can ignore the parts of the treaty they feel like ignoring, like the parts that require due diligence — and no one has any protection from the result, whatever it may be.

The still shorter way to say all of this is, “Fuck you, peasant.” But we say that in much more convoluted language, these days.

The Senate should revisit its approval of this treaty, and of MLATs in general. It won’t.

If you do research that foreign governments might want, don’t park your research materials where they can be found.

Government’s Opposition to Motion For Leave to Intervene

 

Boston Strangled 1

THE DISAPPEARED
Boston Strangled 

Private Eye, No. 1297, 16-29 September, 2011

- NORTHERN IRELAND’S ‘DISAPPEARED’
The legal battle in the US that could threaten the entire peace process – and even end up with Gerry Adams himself in the dock.

A highly-charged legal battle is taking place in the US involving academic freedom and the Northern Ireland police investigation into the so-called “disappeared” – people murdered and secretly buried by the IRA – which is attracting little attention on this side of the Atlantic.

Yet it has the potential to damage the power-sharing government of Northern Ireland and the continuing peace process itself. It could even end up with Gerry Adams in the dock charged with one of the most notorious murders/killings of the Troubles.

Boston College, which has done much to “sell” the Good Friday Agreement to an American audience, holds a unique oral history of the Troubles – taped interviews with former paramilitaries, both nationalist and loyalist. They were obtained by historians, academics and journalists on the basis of guaranteed confidentiality – until death.

But now the college has been served with subpoenas, issued by the US attorney’s office on behalf of the British authorities, seeking access to every tape and transcript relating to one of the disappeared, Jean McConville, a widow and mother of ten, who – suspected of being an informant – was killed by the IRA in 1972.

The college has handed over the tapes and transcripts of one former IRA man, Brendan Hughes, because he died in 2008 – and his damning testimony is already in the public domain. But the college is fiercely resisting handing over any more, on the basis that not only does it threaten academic freedom but places some at risk of retribution.

The subpoenas follow publication last year in two Belfast newspapers of an interview with former IRA activist and Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price. As well as incriminating herself, she accuses Sinn Fein president and now Dail parliamentarian Gerry Adams of ordering the McConville murder. Publication forced Adams once again to come out with his standard denial of ever being an IRA member, let alone leader.

Price’s claims are not new. Indeed in both a film and a book – which Adams described as “libelous” – by Ed Moloney, the journalist responsible for gathering the Boston archive, the same allegations are levelled at the Sinn Fein leader by Brendan Hughes. But once it became clear that Adams could steer the IRA from its 30-year history of murder and violence, it seems it has never been in anyone’s long term interest to actively investigate him – or indeed Martin McGuinness, over whom other murderous IRA allegations hang.

As many of those involved in the peace process, including the independent body set up to enable the disarming of the IRA, agreed: “However reprehensible some acts are that were committed in the past, at some point a line needs to be drawn under them – never to forget, but to be able to move on.”

But for the families of the disappeared who are desperate to know what happened to their loved ones, forgetting and moving on is not an option – and that is no doubt what is now driving the moves against the academics at Boston.

The highly questionable value of the tapes as admissible evidence (the tapes were made some years ago) gives weight to those who believe the attempt to have them released is little more than a fishing exercise.

The Eye has also learnt that the subpoenas are based on a false claim that one of the interviews with Price, published in the Sunday Life newspaper in February last year, was based on an interview with the Boston College project – suggesting it had already put recordings in the public domain. That is not true; and no doubt the college will hope that this fundamental flaw in the legal process could lead to the quashing of the subpoenas.

As Ed Moloney wrote recently in the Boston Globe: “The stability of the power-sharing government in Belfast could conceivably be threatened by this case. The United States played a huge role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland; wouldn’t it be ironic if it now played a part in undoing it?” Watch this space.

It is victims of the IRA who need to be hugged

It is victims of the IRA who need to be hugged
News Letter
Published on Thursday 15 September 2011

The Rev David Latimer was used by Sinn Fein to assist republicans rewrite history, writes NORMAN BAXTER. The ex-RUC man says that instead of being praised, IRA leaders should be facing war crimes charges

I WOULD strongly defend the right of the Rev David Latimer to address the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis last weekend.

It was his right to free expression — a right that was secured by the deaths of 301 members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and 711 British service men and women. Over 1,000 members of the security forces murdered by an unrepentant Sinn Fein/IRA organisation; which the Rev Latimer so warmly embraced.

In his address the Rev Latimer degraded the sacrifice of the innocent victims of the IRA campaign to the level of the evil terrorists who murdered them. His message was the theology of terrorism — society is guilty of wrongdoing, therefore terrorism was justified.

The inaction of society in dealing with historical grievances warranted a response of violent terrorism. I am sure Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams could feel the ‘angelic halos’ float above their heads.

Unfortunately for republicans this message was delusional and contrary to the teaching of the scriptures — repentance precedes forgiveness. The Rev Latimer seems to have forgotten this very basic tenet of the Christian faith.

Rather he eulogised a member of one of the most ruthless terrorist groups the Western world has witnessed. There was no call for IRA members to repent and seek forgiveness.

A quick review of the historical record of the troubles in Northern Ireland would have conveyed to the Rev Latimer the nature of the leadership given by Martin McGuinness. For example, evidence to the Saville Inquiry indicating that he was in possession of weapons in Londonderry prior to violence breaking out. Lord Saville found that he had probably been armed with a Thompson sub-machine gun.

A trip to Claudy to visit the relatives of the young and old, Catholic and Protestant, who died in the 1972 IRA bombings, when McGuinness was a leading figure in the IRA, would provide heart wrenching testimony.

If the Rev Latimer needs someone to hug, then he should visit the family of Frank Hegarty. Martin McGuinness gave Rose Hegarty his word that her son would be safe if he returned home. He became another statistic — abducted, tortured and murdered. It is the victims of paramilitary violence who should receive encouragement and adoration for enduring pain and suffering, not those who encouraged destruction.

The fall of Gaddafi and the emergence of a new regime in Libya may herald a new opportunity to gain evidence to directly link the IRA with Libyan state-sponsored terrorism. Gaddafi claimed that every IRA bomb was a Libyan bomb. As agents of Libya, the IRA leadership could be brought to The Hague to answer their crimes.

Those who led and directed the IRA should be pursued under the Rome Treaty and brought to the International Court, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. What weight would the Rev Latimer’s words have in this arena?

The invitation to the Rev Latimer to attend the Ard Fheis is a subtle attempt by Sinn Fein to rewrite history and present themselves as a moderate, all-embracing political party. The Rev Latimer has been manoeuvred into a place where his witness as a Christian minister has been compromised. Regrettably he has added pain and suffering to the victims of IRA violence.

Norman Baxter is a retired RUC and PSNI chief superintendent who now works as a security consultant

See also:

 

Boston College should stand its ground

Boston College should stand its ground
EDITORIAL | BY TERRY GOLWAY | SEPTEMBER 14TH, 2011
Irish Echo

History nerds like myself spend a lot of time combing through boring letters and government documents. It may not be everybody’s idea of entertainment, but, heck, it beats watching Jersey Shore or sending out a few thousand tweets every day.

In the course of this curious hobby, I often find that access to a certain document or collection of documents is restricted if not banned outright.

If the documents in question are government property, well, you may be surprised to learn that, yes, government officials do have lots of secrets, and sometimes they can keep a document secret for decades.

On other occasions, a private citizen might donate personal documents or participate in an oral history on the condition that researchers cannot gain access to the documents or oral histories for, say, ten years. Or longer.

Historians and other scholars have to deal with these kinds of issues all the time. It’s awfully frustrating, and historians, other academics, and journalists occasionally gather together to fight government attempts to keep certain documents secret.

Sometimes, however, the roles are reversed, as is the case in the ongoing controversy over Boston College’s collection of oral histories chronicling the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

As this newspaper and other outlets have reported, the U.S. government is demanding that BC turn over several oral histories that BC promised to keep confidential while the interview subjects were still alive.

The federal government’s action is related to a renewed effort in the Six Counties to solve the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of 10 who was executed by the IRA almost four decades ago on suspicion of being an informant. In other words, the U.S. government is taking drastic legal action against a U.S. college on behalf of a foreign government.

The McConville murder was particularly horrific. There is a sense that the authorities in the North are trying to pin the crime on Gerry Adams, and so discredit Sinn Féin, and perhaps even the peace process itself.

There’s no reason why the U.S. has to be party to this investigation. Boston College is right to resist the demands of both the Justice Department and the PSNI. After all, if Washington and London can keep secrets in the interests of peace or public order, or whatever other reason they might have, an academic institution has a right and a responsibility to keep confidential files confidential.

Those who participated in the oral history project, which contains interviews with members of paramilitary organizations on both sides of the conflict, did so with the understanding that BC would not release their comments until they were dead. That condition was a simple matter of self-defense: participants feared that their candor could lead to violent retribution.

The director of the BC project, veteran journalist Ed Moloney, understood that this collection of testimony required absolute candor.

Historians and journalists know that personal oral histories are valuable tools, although they also know that memories can be faulty, supposed eyewitness accounts can be flawed, and that apparent candor still must be subject to skepticism.

Still, oral histories are only valuable if the testimony offers insight or information that is reasonably truthful By promising both republican and loyalist paramilitaries that their oral histories would be secret until their deaths, researchers who conducted the interviews did their best to ensure frank talk about a highly contentious period in Ireland’s history.

If BC were forced to turn over the oral histories, in complete violation of its promise, people may die. That’s no exaggeration. That’s why BC is fighting to hard to prevent the federal government from obtaining access to the archive and then sharing the findings with the PSNI.

It’s an odd conflict, to be sure. Usually it’s the government seeking to keep secrets, and academics (and journalists) demanding access. This time, for reasons that are suspect at best, the federal government is trying to circumvent confidentiality, not on behalf of any pressing U.S. national interest, but on behalf of authorities in a foreign land.

Generally, academics are on the side of transparency. But in this case, Boston College has an obligation to shield the subjects of its scholarship from that harm that would certainly befall those who (presumably) told uncomfortable truths and made candid remarks about events in the north during the long years of conflict there.

BC has lived up to its promises thus far. When onetime IRA member, Brendan Hughes, died four years ago, BC made transcripts of his oral history available to authorities, or anyone else who was interested. Federal and PSNI officials now want access to the oral history of Dolours Price, another IRA member who recently implicated Adams in the McConville killing.

It certainly is worthy of note that the feds and the PSNI are interested only in republican oral histories. Nobody has demanded access to oral histories given by loyalists. BC took note of this when it told the BBC that it would continue to oppose Washington subpoenas.

The focus on IRA interviews, a BC spokesman said, seems to support the notion that the inquiry is “politically motivated.”

Boston College should stand its ground. In this case, confidentiality is the right and only course of action.

Terry Golway teaches United States history at Kean University and is the curator of the university’s John T. Kean Center for American History. He is the author of several books on American and Irish history. Golway is a columnist for the New York Times and is a former member of the New York Times editorial board.

Boston College IRA tapes: Researchers seek separate review

Boston College IRA tapes: Researchers seek separate review
Irish Emigrant
By Brian Fitzpatrick

The saga surrounding Boston College’s Belfast Project took another twist recently when journalist Ed Moloney and former IRA operative Anthony McIntyre filed papers in US District Court in Boston, seeking leave to intervene on their own merits and have their case put forward separately to the one lodged by BC against recent subpoenas.

US authorities acting on behalf of an unnamed body – said to be the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – are demanding access to some 26 interviews given to BC by former IRA members in the project undertaken by former IRA man-turned journalist McIntyre, who carried out the tapings, and Bronx-based Moloney, who oversaw the project.

In total the tapes are said to include around 50 interviews with republican and loyalist paramilitaries gathered between 2001 and 2006, under the strict condition that they would not be released until the interviewees had passed away. Significantly, the subpoenas do not request any interviews given by loyalist paramilitaries, leading to concerns for the peace process given the biased appearance of the requests.

In what is being seen as a move to discredit Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, prosecutors first asked a judge to order that the college hand over interviews given by Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, two former IRA members who had in the past accused Adams of running a secret IRA cell which conducted the kidnappings and disappearances of at least nine people during the early 1970s. Adams famously denies ever being an IRA member.

Access

A second set of subpoenas filed in August then sought access to the full set of 26 IRA interviews, looking for “any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville.”

McConville, a mother of 10, was abducted, killed and buried on a beach in the Republic by the IRA in 1972, having been suspected of informing to British authorities. Her remains weren’t uncovered until 2003.

In a recent op-ed submission to the Boston Globe, McIntyre and Moloney said they feel there is more to the tale than is being admitted, claiming the tapes only became important to the PSNI once Gerry Adams was elected to Dáil Éireann as a TD (member of the Irish parliament) for Co. Louth.

Taking a less political stance, BC has opposed both sets of subpoenas on the grounds that the premature release of the tapes would threaten the safety of the participants, the enterprise of oral history and the ongoing peace process.

The original “Motion for an Order to Compel”, seen by The Irish Emigrant, counters this argument by saying that those overseeing the project “made promises they could not keep – that they would conceal evidence of murder and other crimes until the perpetrators were in their graves…there is no academic privilege which shields the material from disclosure.”

Speaking with The Irish Emigrant about the new filings, BC spokesperson Jack Dunn said that although there was some surprise that McIntyre and Moloney had decided to intervene, in essence theirs was the same battle.

Goal

“Anthony and Ed are working towards the same goal as BC,” Dunn said. “We all want the same resolution to this case. We’re focused on our legal deliberations, and they’re free to pursue their own deliberations.”

Asked whether there was a rift in the camp over the pair’s overtly political approach to the case, Dunn replied simply: “No.”

This was echoed by New York-based Belfast barrister Eamon Dornan, representing the journalists, who said that the two groups were “all on the same page.”

“It’s fair to say that Anthony and Ed are being more aggressive politically, for sure, but what’s important is that we manage to protect the archive and the future of such projects,” he told The Irish Emigrant. “We’ll wait and se how the government responds over the next few weeks.”

In filing to intervene, McIntyre and Moloney have requested that US Attorney General Eric Holder abide by his obligations under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the UK and the US.

They will ask the Court to order the Attorney General to take into account solemn promises made by the UK government to the US Senate that it would not “reopen issues addressed in the Belfast Agreement, or…impede any further efforts to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland.”

Testimony

After his passing in 2008, parts of Brendan Hughes’ testimony were published in Ed Moloney’s book Voices from the Grave and were also handed over to the courts by BC. Ms. Price is still alive however, and the pair point out that her extradition from Ireland to the UK, which could be seen as a likely consequence of the subpoenas, would violate the terms of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

“The treaty clearly states that a line in the sand should be drawn under any pre-Good Friday Agreement (GFA) offences, and the subpoenas clearly violate the language of the treaty,” Dornan said.

“That treaty requires AG Holder to review the public policy implications of the subpoenas, especially the obligations of other treaties such as the GFA and the US-UK Extradition Treaty.”

Leaders of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish American Unity Conference and the Brehon Law Society have also joined the debate, issuing a joint statement arguing that there are valid legal and morals grounds for opposing the subpoenas.

Jim Cullen of the Brehon Law Society said Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and US Representative Richard Neal (D-MA), Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs, will now be lobbied to fight the release of any records.

Fishing

“There are compelling arguments that this is little more than a political fishing expedition,” Cullen said in a statement emailed to The Irish Emigrant, “but there are [also] related issues of the potential endangerment of the lives of researchers.”

“The British government has spent nearly 40 years refusing to release records of the role of the British Army in the largest atrocity of the entire conflict, the no-warning bombing of Dublin and Monaghan, and refusing to allow independent inquiries [into] the murders of solicitors Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson by the very same forces seeking the BC records,” Cullen continued.

“We are confident that American jurisprudence and/or the American political process will be sensitive to these ironies.”

Attorney General Holder is set to respond to the request from McIntyre and Moloney over the coming days, after which they would have a right to reply. On the issue of the subpoenas themselves, Judge Joseph Tauro is expected to either call for a further hearing or simply make a judgment on the matter in the coming weeks.

New York Times: Historic Headlines – key events and their connections to today

September 12, 2011, 4:47 AM
Sept. 12, 1977| Anti-Apartheid Leader Steve Biko Dies in Police Custody

By THE LEARNING NETWORK

Teaching and Learning with the New York Times
Historic Headlines
Learn about key events in history and their connections to today.

On Sept. 12, 1977, Stephen Biko, one of South Africa’s most influential anti-apartheid activists, died after being beaten by South African police during an interrogation. South African authorities claimed that Mr. Biko’s hunger strike caused his death.

A leader of the anti-apartheid struggle, Steve Biko had founded the Black Consciousness Movement, which emphasized black pride and a rejection of white ruling-class values. Unlike African National Congress leaderNelson Mandela, who sought cooperation between races, Mr. Biko believed that the development of black culture and identity (i.e., black consciousness) would lead to black liberation from apartheid.
The Sept. 13 New York Times reported that many anti-apartheid leaders did not believe the reported cause of Mr. Biko’s death, and that there were fears that his death could spark violence. The article quoted Zulu Chief Gaisha Buthelezi: “I will not be able to curb my people, and indeed I soon may not want to curb my people, when they adopt an attitude of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

Mr. Biko’s autopsy revealed that he died not of hunger strike, but of a brain hemorrhage from being struck multiple times in the head. The government nevertheless asserted that Mr. Biko’s injuries were self-inflicted. It was not until 1997 that five officers admitted while testifying before the post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a panel established in 1995 to investigate and bring to light offenses committed during the apartheid era, that they had killed Mr. Biko.


Connect to Today:

Steve Biko’s widow objected to the commission’s decision to hear the officers’ testimony, fearing that her husband’s killers could receive amnesty. The commission ruled that the murder was not a political crime. While the officers’ applications for amnesty were rejected, they ultimately escaped prosecution due to lack of evidence.

Amnesty for criminals may seem difficult to justify, but this type oftransitional justice has been invaluable to countries like South Africa seeking to heal the wounds of systemic brutality and oppression. As a 1997 New York Times op-ed piece explained, “Without the lure of amnesty, it is likely that no one who knew of Mr. Biko’s murder would have talked, making convictions impossible.” It further noted that the Commission “trades the impossible for the possible, namely information that is indispensable for healing after apartheid.”

On a related note, in June 2011 the British government subpoenaed Boston College for its collection of oral histories of Irish Republican Army figures who spoke on the condition that their testimony and identity would not be released until after they died. However, the British sought to prosecute them for crimes committed during the decades-long conflict known as the Troubles. Many academics fear that the release of the oral histories will discourage other participants from telling their stories for the historical record.

Do you believe that those who committed crimes in the past should be granted amnesty or anonymity for their testimony under certain circumstances? Why or why not? How do you think a country or group of people can most effectively address past injustices to lay the foundation for a more just future?

Irish groups angry over British subpoenas for Boston College IRA interview records

Irish groups angry over British subpoenas for Boston College IRA interview records
Valid legal arguments for opposition to the subpoenas
By Irish Voice Reporters
Irish Voice
Published Friday, September 9, 2011, 8:10 AM
Updated Friday, September 9, 2011, 8:12 AM

Leaders of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish American Unity Conference and the Brehon Law Society have joined in protesting British subpoenas of records/tapes currently held under strict security protocols and access restrictions by the Burns Archives of Boston College.

After a series of meetings, representatives of the groups have agreed that not only are there valid legal arguments for opposition to the subpoenas but also foreign policy and morals grounds for doing so.

“We allege,” stated Belfast solicitor Eamonn Dornan, “that the attorney general who has the authority to grant or deny the subpoena request, has failed to fulfill his responsibilities under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

“That treaty requires Attorney General Eric Holder to review the public policy implications of the subpoenas, especially the obligations of other treaties such as the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and the U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty.”

Jim Cullen, spokesman for the Brehon Law Society, acknowledged that other Brehon lawyers and those designated by the AOH and IAUC are in agreement that meetings with Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Congressman Richard Neal, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Irish Affairs, and others will be now undertaken to fight the release of any records to the British government and/or whatever rogue or dissident elements of the PSNI may have prompted these subpoenas.

“There are compelling arguments that this is little more than a political fishing expedition but there are related issues of the potential endangerment of the lives of researchers Moloney and McIntyre and fundamental fairness,” said Cullen.

Concluded Cullen, a retired brigadier general with the Army JAG and an attorney with Andersonkill & Co. Ltd, “The British government has spent nearly 40 years refusing to release records of the role of the British Army in the largest atrocity of the entire conflict, the no-warning bombing of Dublin and Monaghan which killed 33 innocent people and maimed another 200 and refusing to allow independent inquiries of the murders of solicitors Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson by the very same forces seeking the Boston College records.

“Her Majesty’s minions now demand the U.S. government to snap to and produce academic records? We are confident that American jurisprudence and/or the American political process will be sensitive to these ironies and will provide relief or redress from this outrageous corruption of law and justice.”