June 28, 2013
The Honorable John F Kerry
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary,
As you know, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently reviewed the subpoena of documents and recordings of the Boston College Oral History Archive on the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Court ruled in early June that only a portion of the materials at issue in the case could be turned over in response to the British government’s request pursuant to the U.S.-UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). Nevertheless, I remain concerned that the United Kingdom’s request for the material may still have the effect of threatening the precious peace won by the Good Friday Agreement.
Prior to a final decision by Attorney General Holder, these materials should be carefully weighed by State Department experts on Northern Ire;and’s peace process to determine whether their release could damage inter-communal reconciliation and might run counter to our national interests. I share the concerns of many in the Irish-American community who have asserted that the nature of this request raises doubts about he wisdom of the British government’s Northern Ireland policies.
If Ultimately the Administration has no further legal grounds to withhold release, it is my hope that you will engage with the Department of Justice to minimise the potential damage these documents might do by taking full advantage of our rights under the U.S.-UK MLAT. Article 7 stipulates that the UK, as the “Requesting Party,” is required not to use or disclose any information or evidence obtained for any purposes other than for the proceedings stated in the request without prior consent of the United States. The Department of Justice should impress upon the British government that the provision of the records are conditioned on the agreement that they will not be released for use in civil proceedings.
Our country made a significant diplomatic investment in resolving “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. I would be a terrible error in judgement if the United States was to not engage now in the due diligence necessary to protect our investment in this hard-won peace.
Cc: The Honorable Eric Holder, Attorney General