Congressman Steven Rothman’s Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20521

Dear Madam Secretary,

I am very concerned about attempts by the United Kingdom to obtain documents, transcripts, and recordings from the Boston College Oral History Archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland that were given to the College in confidence. While I appreciate the importance of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty the United States maintains with the United Kingdom, there would likely be serious consequences as a result of releasing the testimony of individuals who were told that information would not be released until their death.

There are two significant issues at stake in this matter. First, forcing Boston College to release these records will inhibit the ability of journalists and academics to collect oral histories in the future as participants may fear that these histories will be used against them. Second, the release of this information may rekindle friction in Northern Ireland over the struggle that led to the Good Friday Accords and upset the fragile peace that the people of the United Kingdom and Ireland have sacrificed so greatly to create.

I understand and appreciate the deep history and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. However, I must respectfully urge you to intervene to protect the academic and journalistic integrity of the oral histories that were gathered in confidence by Boston College. I appreciate your attention to this matter and I look forward to your response. If there is anyway I can be of assistance in this matter please contact my Chief of Staff, Tom O’Donnell at (202) 225-5061.


Steven R. Rothman
Member of Congress