ANCIENT ORDER OF HIBERNIANS, BREHON LAW SOCIETY, & IRISH AMERICAN UNITY CONFERENCE
May 4, 2012
Mr. Jake Sullivan,
Director of Policy & Planning
U. S. Department of State,
2201 C Street NW,
Washington, D. C. 20520
Dear Mr. Sullivan:
Thank you for the opportunity to share our views with you on a number of issues. This letter is a follow-up to our previous correspondence about the subpoenas issued to Boston College by Attorney General Holder pursuant to the U.S.-U.K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT).
We are concerned that you may not fully appreciate the priority we attach to the subpoena issue. You may find it helpful to review the submissions made recently at a hearing of the Helsinki Commission (CSCE) conducted by Chairman, Representative Christopher Smith. The material was prepared and extensively documented by the Committee on the Administration of Justice, Relatives for Justice, and the Pat Finucane Center. The reports leave no doubt that the United Kingdom is indifferent to provisions of the 1998 Belfast Agreement and cleverly uses every means at its disposal to obstruct the search for truth and justice.
There are three principal reasons for our concern. First, we are not persuaded that there are any grounds for the Department of State to delay a decision to oppose this misuse of the MLAT. The Treaty and its ratifying documents are clear on justifications for withholding requested information. The Northern Irish police, even as presently constituted are the most discredited police force in Europe. The systematic re-hiring of pensioned officers from the old regime to distract and misdirect the work of the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) and the Police Ombudsman undermines the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and American values. One need only review the number of sealed reports into the police forces corruption with death squads and know the number of times the UK has derogated from its obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights to understand the obligation of the Secretary of State to inform our nations’ chief law enforcement officer of this record before he responds to this request. More specifically, the misuse of the MLAT to engage in an “investigation” that has clear political motivation cannot be ignored. The focus on a killing in 1972, after the Northern Irish police and British military intelligence services deliberately ignored the killing in 1972 and for decades thereafter for reasons now well understood, confirms the political motivation driving the issuance of subpoenas in the lead-up to an election in Ireland.
Secondly, Prime Minister David Cameron cavalierly dismissed the Weston Park Agreement with regard to the assassination of human rights lawyer Patrick Finucane. He did so with an admission of collusion in that murder by the very same police force that now seeks records from Boston College. Unfortunately the present United States Administration has chosen to ignore this murder. The murder of a second lawyer, Rosemary Nelson, was the subject of another inquiry into suspected collusion after an initial investigation by Canadian jurist Judge Cory. A complicity of silence and worse, cooperation, with the same police force that engaged in collusion of murder of defense lawyers and now wants to trawl through confidential oral history records would badly stain the State Department and the Administration. We support human rights advocates and journalists around the world, most recently in China. Are not Irish lawyers worthy of the same respect and recognition especially when there is public admission of security forces collusion in their murders?
Thirdly, prior to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the U.S. policy toward the conflict in N.I. could be charitably described as ranging from indifference to Diplock courts, internment and the Hunger Strikes to a policy of collaboration with the United Kingdom with N.I. gun sales and turning a blind eye to the fact that it was the only democracy in the world to see 5 elected officials assassinated, again with collusion of the security forces. President Clinton saw that the way forward out of the violence and injustice was dialogue and, without waiting for any court decision, decided to let America hear from the victims of British misrule by issuing a visa to Gerry Adams, then an elected Member of Parliament. Since then American support for the Irish peace process has been bi-partisan, broad based and committed to not only the letter of the Agreement but to the healing power of truth and justice.
If these politically inspired requests for records were to be granted, they could undermine the peace process. The could also be viewed as collateral support of British efforts to cover-up the role of security forces in the killings of hundreds of Catholics and to absolve those same forces from accountability to the rule of law.
We are unclear about the intimation of interfering in the affairs of another country. We are asking that the United States live up to ITS obligations under the Treaty. It is already clear that Britain doesn’t take their responsibilities seriously otherwise it would not have rubberstamped the records requests in the first instance.
It is our hope these issues have been raised within the “consultation process” referred to by the Department of Justice. If so, we believe these MLAT requests would have to be denied. If they have not been raised, they should be addressed forthrightly and without further delay.
If you have any questions, or have need of more information or documentation, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to the response of Secretary Clinton at her earliest convenience.
Seamus Boyle, National President, Ancient Order of Hibernians
Robert Dunne, Esquire, President, Brehon Law Society
Thomas J. Burke Jr., Esquire, National President, Irish American Unity Conference
Ref: AOH letter to Secretary Clinton – Oct. 24, 2011; IAUC letter to Secretary Clinton – Oct. 12, 2011; Brehon Law Society to Secretary Clinton – Oct. 26, 2011