February 28, 2012
The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton
Department of State
2201 1 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Madam Secretary:
I am writing to express my concern about the British goverment’s efforts to obtain documents and recordings related to the Troubles in Northern Ireland from Boston College’s Oral History Archive. I recognize the United States’ obligation to assist with British criminal investigations under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. However, I am concerned about the potential negative impact of releasing these materials on the future of academic research and the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland.
The interviews collected by Boston College oral historians provide a valuable – and in some cases unique – record of individuals’ experiences during the Troubles. Releasing the materials would violate the confidentiality promised to the interviewees, and could endanger those involved in the project. It would also jeopardize the future work of oral historians who encourage people to speak candidly about their experiences. I believe that the release of these materials will discourage participation in future oral history projects that address controversial events, depriving researchers of an important historical resource.
Releasing the subpoenaed materials may also have negative implications for the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland. The United States played a pivotal role in negotiating the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and we must continue to support peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland. I am concerned that releasing these oral histories will inflame tensions and undermine trust among parties to the Good Friday Agreement.
Thank you for your leadership on this important issue. I hope that you will continue to encourage all parties to the Good Friday Agreement to continue to work toward enduring peace and stability in Northern Ireland.
Robert P. Casey, Jr
United States Senator