LETTER: Secretary of State John Kerry Asked to Intervene on Boston College Subpoenas


June 5, 2013

Mr. John Kerry
Secretary of State
Office of the Secretary
U. S. Department of State
2201 C St NW
Washington, D. C 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

As you know, the litigation challenge to the British subpoena request for records held in the Irish archives of Boston College is near an end.

However, Britain’s misuse of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and the broader policy implications if the subpoena request is granted are still of great concern to us.

As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee you were the first Member of Congress to register objections to the sealed subpoenas with Attorney General Holder and with your predecessor Secretary of State Clinton.

Your fears for the Irish peace process, progress on the Belfast Agreement, truth and reconciliation, academic inquiry and constitutional liberties are as valid now as they were when you expressed them in January, 2012.

This is an American issue.

It is in America’s best interest to not enforce but return the subpoenas to the United Kingdom.

At a recent congressional hearing, Representative Chris Smith, the Co-Chair of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, spoke of Britain’s refusal to hold anyone accountable for the murder of Patrick Finucane stating, “…the decision not to proceed with the public inquiry is a glaring public breach of faith …calling into question the British government’s commitment to peace and reconciliation.”

Indeed, Mr. Secretary, you have correctly identified this subpoena issue as another example of how Britain is slowly and systematically disassembling the Belfast Treaty.

These are but two of many examples of how the Cameron government is abusing America’s trust, mocking our commitment to the Belfast Agreement and damaging our credibility with other nations.

During Secretary Clinton’s term we met twice on this issue with State officials.

Mr. Jake Sullivan and Mr. William Gill were present but were unable or unwilling to answer our most basic questions.

They seemed unfamiliar with the progress of the Irish peace process and were unfamiliar with any of the reports of the Committee for the Administration of Justice which depict in great detail how Great Britain is observing neither the letter nor the spirit of the 1998 Belfast Agreement (as amended).

We hope that your familiarity with this issue and long association with the workings of the peace process will mean a fresh examination of the facts and a fresh approach.

As you know, the Secretary of State has a key role to play in any U.S. response to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) request, and your objections to the satisfaction of these Boston College subpoenas must be weighed by Attorney General Holder before complying and submitting any documents obtained by him.

We include our letter to the Attorney General citing what we view is a misuse and misapplication of the treaty’s purpose particularly where it conflicts with the spirit of the 1998 Agreement and representations made to you in the Senate during ratification of the U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty in 2006.

Your former colleagues in Congress who also have joined the subpoena opposition reflect our determined attempt to garner bi-partisan support to stop their enforcement.

Indeed, the Co-Chairs of the Ad Hoc Committee of Irish Affairs, Representatives Chris Smith and Peter King, as well as the Co-Chairs of the Friends of Ireland, Representatives Richard Neal and Joseph Crowley, have recently adopted resolutions reiterating their concerns for the Good Friday Agreement and citing the failure of the British government to abide by its terms particularly with respect to the Finucane murder.

Neal and Crowley have specifically expressed their opposition to the subpoenas and their potential to undermine the Irish peace process.

Last year many Member of Congress voiced their opposition to the Russian killing of attorney Sergei Magnitsky and then affirmed their commitment to the rule of law and justice by adopting statutory sanctions against those identified as responsible.

Such a measure may not be necessary in the Finucane case but America can underscore its commitment to the Irish peace process, the rule of law and justice by withholding any support of the MLAT subpoena request unless and until the Good Friday Agreements terms are respected and fulfilled.

We renew our request to meet at any time to discuss this further or answer any questions you may have.


Mr. Brendan Moore
National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians

Mr. Sean Downes Esq.
Brehon Law Society

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