Attorney General Holder and the Blind Eye

Attorney General Holder and the Blind Eye
Irish American News
Michael Cummings

Last year Attorney General Eric Holder received a curious request from the British government under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). Curious because although the Treaty was to speed the prosecution of international terrorism and money laundering crimes, Britain’s first request under the 2006 accord sought records from a Boston College library on a killing at a time of civil unrest in N. I. 40 years earlier. That alone should have raised some questions. But the fact the records were sought by the most lawless and corrupt police force in Western Europe should have prompted alarm bells. It did not.

Despite these warnings, like the ill-fated Fast and Furious project, the request has taken on a life of its own. Without an adult in charge to weigh the merits, the Department of Justice blindly turned the request into a sealed subpoena and a David & Goliath legal battle involving academics, journalists, civil libertarians and Irish-American groups rages in the federal circuit court of Appeals in Boston. The conduct of the litigation has proved illuminating if only to reveal how the UK plays America like a Stradivarius when the topic is Ireland.


No sooner had Gerry Adams, architect of the 1998 Belfast accord, announced for a seat in the Irish Dail , then the confidential records of the Boston College Oral History project were requested of the F. B. I. ostensibly in aid of a case involving the killing of a British informer. The case had not been seriously investigated in 40 years. What prompts the N. I. police to allow hundreds of cases of Catholic murders to languish for want of investigation in favor of this sure loser? An opponent of the 1998 Belfast peace accord, Dolours Price, claimed that Adams was involved with the killing.

If the British were conducting a real criminal investigation they would seek the direct sworn testimony of Ms. Price who lives in Ireland, not the tape of an unsworn interview. This request clearly did not fit the Treaty’s purpose but time was of the essence. Success with UK extraditions requests from Ireland are rare. Since America is so easily charmed by the ‘special relationship’, Britain chose to ‘game’ the MLAT. The Irish election was looming and Adams’ Sinn Fein party platform opposed the bail out of British bankers who held much of Ireland’s massive debt. MISADVENTURE gazed into the eyes of OPPORTUNITY and was smitten! A political smear and fishing expedition was born using the U. S. as the hapless handmaiden.

For this political gambit alone, Holder could withdraw the subpoena. But there is another more critical reason to do so. Secretary Clinton could conclude that to comply with the request would be contrary to American values and could undermine a peace process the U. S. has supported. Recent events call into question Britain’s credibility in fulfilling key provisions of the 1998 accord. Britain maintains juryless courts and detains political prisoners like Gerry McGeough, both of which are anathema to America’s system of justice. The Cameron government has refused a promised public inquiry into the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane and has refused to turn over information requested by the Irish government on the slaughter of the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. Add to these concerns the disclosure that hundreds of former Royal Ulster Constabulary officers who the new PSNI was better off without, have been re-hired. This crowd were the most likely source of the politically inspired records request of Boston College.

Could the A. G. turn a blind eye to these factors and rubber stamp the enforcement of his subpoena? If so history will repeat itself. In 1974 President Reagan, despite Congressional prohibition, allowed the RUC to purchase guns from the U. S. This at the height of their lawless crushing of the Irish civil rights movement inspired by Martin Luther King. How sad and ironic it would be for our first African American President to ignore British treachery, welcome Prime Minister Cameron in March and prove he is no better than President Reagan as Britain’s pet poodle in Ireland.


Michael J. Cummings, Member
National Board