Obvious and Dangerous Lies from Boston College

Obvious and Dangerous Lies from Boston College
Chris Bray

Disgusting, but also pathetic and untenable. It’s quite a package.

Thomas Hachey is the director of Irish programs at Boston College. Robert O’Neill is the Burns Librarian, and as such oversees the archive that holds Belfast Project interview materials. In an op-ed piece published in the Irish Times on Jan. 19, both men make a shameful claim that doesn’t withstand a moment of scrutiny.

Remember that BC received two sets of subpoenas for Belfast Project materials: one set in May for interviews conducted with two specific subjects, the former IRA members Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, and one set on Aug. 4 that demanded “any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville.”

On Dec. 16, the court rejected BC’s motion to quash, and ordered BC to produce all interviews germane to the subpoenas by Dec. 21.

Here’s the critical part: BC’s outside lawyer, Jeffery Swope, sent an email to Belfast Project researcher Anthony McIntyre on the evening of Dec. 20, the day before the subpoenaed materials were due to the court, to ask for McIntyre’s help in identifying which interviews were germane to the Aug. 4 subpoena.

McIntyre declined, but the request was absurd on its face. BC received a subpoena on Aug. 4 for material that they were ordered on Dec. 16 to hand over by Dec. 21. They began to try to identify materials that were responsive to the subpoena with an emailed message to the researcher on Dec. 20.

Because BC couldn’t figure out in late December which materials were responsive to a set of subpoenas they received in early August, they were forced to deliver to the court their entire set of confidential IRA interviews, rather than only producing the ones that were germane.

All of this is proved, with embedded court documents that you can see for yourself, in this post.

Now, here’s what Hachey and O’Neill claim in their Jan. 19 op-ed piece, and read this very carefully:

“No one knows more about the contents of the interviews of former IRA members than the interviewer himself, Anthony McIntyre, who declined the court’s request to disclose which of the interviews were potentially responsive, thereby requiring Boston College to provide all the IRA interviews to the court for its review.”

It’s all Anthony McIntyre’s fault! They asked him for help, and he wouldn’t give it. And after all, they themselves only had 139 days to review materials from two dozen interviewees.

Note what this claim acknowledges. They have acknowledged the claim that they delivered to the court materials that were not subpoenaed, and that they were forced to do so because they couldn’t identify which interviews were responsive to the subpoena.

This post? Proven. Now they’re just dancing around over the blame, and it’s embarrassing to watch.

See for yourself that this quote is not taken out of context, pulled out of a piece in which Hachey and O’Neill discuss the Aug. 4/Dec. 16/Dec. 20/Dec. 21 timing. Here’s a link to the op-ed piece again. Read the whole thing.

First, Hachey and O’Neill are lying, shielding the truth from readers in a careful set of omissions. They honestly tried to identify which interviews were germane, but Anthony McIntyre wouldn’t help them. Not mentioned: they had more than four months to review the interviews themselves and figure out which ones were responsive to the subpoena, and they didn’t bother. Also not mentioned: the supposed effort to get Anthony McIntyre’s help came in the form of an email the day before the materials were due in court.

Second, and this is critical: Anthony McIntyre is both an academic and a former IRA member, and he was able to interview other former IRA members because of the trust conferred by his status and his past. To put the entire blame for the loss of these confidential and sensitive IRA interviews on his head, in an Irish newspaper — and in reference to an investigation, remember, into the murder of an informer — is to paint a target on him, his home, and his family.

So it’s a lie, it’s an obvious lie, and it’s an explosive lie.

Go on reading the whole piece, and watch Hachey and O’Neill spray blame everywhere else. To blame: Dolours Price, Anthony McIntyre, Ed Moloney. Not at all to blame: Boston College, Thomas Hachey, Robert O’Neill.

How much cowardice and dishonesty can one institution produce?