Appeal to Boston College to Join the Fight Against Holder Subpoena

Appeal to Boston College to Join the Fray Fighting Attorney General Holder Subpoena

Denver, CO & NY, NY August 15th The largest Irish American activist groups in the nation including the oldest Irish Catholic organization in America, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, have appealed to President William P. Leahy S. J. to join the educational campaign regarding Britain’s unprecedented effort in America to intimidate journalistic inquiry, academic freedom and to color the historical record of the Anglo-Irish conflict to their liking.

“We believe,” stated Thomas J. Burke Jr., President of the Irish American Unity Conference, “there is no better institution in this nation to voice concern for these issues than one so long associated with the Irish and their contributions to America.”

The letter [to Leahy] indicated that even as the Court of Appeals litigation continues to search for a decision that might recognize the constitutional freedoms involved and elevate them over the flawed inquiry by the British government, Boston College could make an immeasurable contribution to the political campaign. It could identify these larger issues by appealing to Members of Congress to hold hearings on the merits of this questionable use of a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

Brendan Moore, newly elected National President of the AOH indicated “the 1998 Belfast Agreement is recognized by most in America as the turning point in the conflict and the hard work of peace can only be made more difficult by this apparent effort by the British government to undermine the peace process.”

“Boston College has rendered under to Caesar what is Caesar’s by responding to the subpoena, ” stated Robert Dunne, President of the Brehon Law Society, “and now we ask that this fine Jesuit institution speak truth to power and seek a forum to do that in the Halls of Congress.”

Letter attached:


August 16, 2012

William P. Leahy S. J.
Boston College
Botolph House
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02467

Dear President Leahy:

As you may know, we represent groups who have long had an interest in the conflict in Ireland and now its fledgling peace process. We have closely followed the case of Attorney General Holder’s subpoena of tapes from the Irish archives in the Burns Library. We did originally meet with Mr. Swope regarding litigation and we recognize that while we shared many of the same goals, there were different assessments of the need for appellate litigation. We believe there are serious academic and constitutional issues associated with the British fishing expedition but we also recognized that resort to the courts would be a steep climb.

We have used the time provided by the litigation to take a different and, we hope, more successful approach to these and related issues we see raised by the UK action. We initially raised our concerns with Senator Kerry. His letter to Secretary Clinton highlights several of the reasons why he is asking Secretary Clinton to oppose the release of any material to the British. His concerns focused on the misrepresentations of the British government during the adoption of related Extradition, and Mutual Legal Assistance (MLAT) treaties and their commitment to the 1998 Belfast Agreement. In addition, he shares some of our concerns about this apparent abuse of the MLAT in a matter where the totality of the circumstances does not support the assertion of a bona fide criminal investigation.

The rubber stamping of the UK request by Attorney General Holder was particularly troubling to our coalition in light of Britain’s failure to adhere to key justice provisions of the 1998 Belfast Agreement which could impede a peace process which America, and no doubt Boston College, supports. This brings us to the point of this letter.

In acceding to the demands of the subpoena, Boston College had many factors to consider beyond academic freedom and the integrity of historical research. Not the least of those may have been legal costs. But there is another option.

You can speak truth to power by giving voice to those concerns and ours if you wish. A bi-partisan coalition of twenty Members of Congress to date have joined along with Senator Kerry to write both Attorney General Holder and Secretary Clinton in opposition to the subpoenas and to the faulty and uncritical manner in which they were implemented in the U. S.

Boston College has the ability and credibility to reach out to Members of Congress and to the Jesuit network of universities to raise the issues of academic freedom which the court decisions have thus far avoided in any substantial manner. We would be grateful for an opportunity to talk with College officials about the merits of raising these concerns in the political and academic arenas. We have several Jesuit college law school graduates amongst our volunteer legal team so pleased be assured we want to do what is right.

Thank you for whatever consideration you may give this invitation. If you have any questions or are in need of any material regarding our points of advocacy, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Robert Dunne Esq.
Brehon Law Society

Thomas J. Burke Jr. Esq
National President
Irish American Unity Conference

Cc: Ms. Kathleen McGillycuddy, Chair
Board of Trustees
Boston College