Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Menendez letter to Secretary of State Kerry

June 28, 2013

The Honorable John F Kerry
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary,

As you know, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently reviewed the subpoena of documents and recordings of the Boston College Oral History Archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Court ruled in early June that only a portion of the materials at issue in the case could be turned over in response to the British government’s request pursuant to the U.S.-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). Nevertheless, I remain concerned that the United Kingdom’s request for the material may still have the effect of threatening the precious peace won by the Good Friday Agreement.

Prior to a final decision by Attorney General Holder, these materials should be carefully weighed by State Department experts on Northern Ire;and’s peace process to determine whether their release could damage inter-communal reconciliation and might run counter to our national interests. I share the concerns of many in the Irish-American community who have asserted that the nature of this request raises doubts about he wisdom of the British government’s Northern Ireland policies.

If Ultimately the Administration has no further legal grounds to withhold release, it is my hope that you will engage with the Department of Justice to minimise the potential damage these documents might do by taking full advantage of our rights under the U.S.-UK MLAT. Article 7 stipulates that the UK, as the “Requesting Party,” is required not to use or disclose any information or evidence obtained for any purposes other than for the proceedings stated in the request without prior consent of the United States. The Department of Justice should impress upon the British government that the provision of the records are conditioned on the agreement that they will not be released for use in civil proceedings.

Our country made a significant diplomatic investment in resolving “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. I would be a terrible error in judgement if the United States was to not engage now in the due diligence necessary to protect our investment in this hard-won peace.

Sincerely,

Robert Menendez

Cc: The Honorable Eric Holder, Attorney General

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Menendez to Secretary of State Kerry: Do Not Undermine US Interest in Progress

April 8 2013

The Honorable John F Kerry
Secretary of State
U. S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20521

Dear Mr Secretary,

For over a year I have monitored the government of the United Kingdom’s efforts to subpoena the documents and recordings of the Boston College Oral History Archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland as the issue was reviewed by our federal courts.

As you know the Good Friday Accords established a precious, but fragile peace, one which endures despite the accumulated pain and resentment of people who experienced thirty years of tragic violence. The Boston College Archive could be a monument to that troubled time and a means for future generations to appreciated their complicated history and achieve mutual understanding. However, the United Kingdom’s request for the material could have the effect of re-opening fresh wounds and threatening the success of the Good Friday Accords.

Mercifully, the terrible times when events in Northern Ireland led the news headlines are past, but they are not so distant that we should neglect our nation’s role as a steward of that fragile peace. To that end, I encourage you to raise the potential political implications of this request with your counterparts in the United Kingdom and under any circumstances the United States should review whatever materials are shared carefully to ensure that their provision does not undermine the United States’ essential interest in the progress achieved by the people of Northern Ireland.

Sincerely,

Robert Menendez

Cc: The Honorable Eric Holder, Attorney General

Senator Robert Menendez’s letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

 

February 22, 2012

The Honorable Hilary Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20521

Dear Madam Secretary:

I write today out of concern about the efforts of the United Kingdom to compel the production of documents and recordings from Boston College’s Oral History Archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

While I appreciate the need for the United States to abide by the terms of our Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United Kingdom, in that context, I urge you to consider the broad public policy implications of releasing these documents and recordings. In addition to breaching the confidentiality guarantees provided to participants, the release will most certainly have a chilling effect on the academic study of sensitive events and participation in oral history projects.

The release may also upset the fragile peace and delicate political balance achieved through the Good Friday Accords. After thirty years of violence, the historical Accords have for the last fourteen years governed a relative peace that has allowed the people of Belfast to rebuild their lives. Time, however, has not erased political and social fractures between parties and in communities, and the release of these documents and recordings may disrupt this tenuous peace.

I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Robert Menendez
United States Senator

CC: Attorney General Eric Holder
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20530


Congressman Gary Ackerman’s letter to Secretary of State Clinton