The Honorable Eric Holder
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Clinton,
I write with deep concern about the ongoing efforts of the United Kingdom to secure documents and recordings from Boston College’s oral history archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland (the “Belfast Project”).
As you know, the Belfast Project contains personal accounts of individuals involved in The Troubles. The research sought to capture insight into the minds of people who were personally involved in the conflict. The interviewees agreed to participate in the project after signing a confidentiality agreement with Boston College that provided that the interviews would only be released after the death of the interviewee. I fear that the release of these materials may have a serious chilling effect on academic freedom.
Release of interviews may also negatively impact the success of the Northern Ireland peace process. I am concerned that the release of the Belfast Project interviews puts at risk the progress that has been made since the Good Friday Agreement.
In addition, many of my constituents have raised concerns that the release of the interviews may put lives in jeopardy. As I am sure you understand, the interviews conducted are of a very sensitive nature and could lead to retribution.
I understand the United Kingdom has requested the documents and interviews under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the U.S. and U.K. I encourage you to work closely with British authorities to have the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) request withdrawn.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter.
Scott P. Brown
United States Senator