Congressman Mike Doyle’s Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20530

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Clinton,

I am writing to convey my concerns about the on-going efforts of the United Kingdom to obtain materials relating to sensitive events that occurred in Northern Ireland over 30 years ago. As you know, the British Government has invoked the United States – United Kingdom Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) to obtain these documents from Boston College. I believe that this action not only violates the sentiment behind the Good Friday Agreement, but could also have drastic consequences for the future of journalistic confidentiality and academic freedom.

I have strong concerns that multiple outlets have indicated that this request has a political nature with the explicit intent of causing unrest and impede the peace process in Northern Ireland. I believe that the release of these confidential documents could have a profound effect on further efforts towards peace in the region, and would do significant damage to the adherence of the Good Friday Agreement.

Moreover, the collection at Boston College, called the Belfast Project, was intended (and has remained for decades) to be anonymous. The investigation and subsequent data complied by the researchers was obtained solely with the promise of anonymity. The release of these documents could have grave effects on the future of academic research and journalistic confidentiality.

The MLAT was designed as a show of good faith between the United States and the United Kingdom. When written, it was made clear that the agreement was never to be used to achieve a political goal pertaining to the North. This inquiry from the UK violates that good faith, and could have devastating effects both in Ireland and in academia across the country.

In the interest of maintaining peace and furthering good relations throughout the United Kingdom, I urge you to work with British Authorities to rescind this request. As always, I appreciate you attention to this matter and please do not hesitate to contact me with any additional questions or concerns.


Mike Doyle
Member of Congress