On Boston College & British Gangsters


Few who have followed the British demand for records from the Irish archives of Boston College understand their motive. Fewer still grasp why America would accede to it. Their demand ostensibly concerns a search for truth but, if the topic is Ireland, nobody is better at concealing it than Britain. The demand came in the form of  sealed subpoenas by the British in 2010 to the FBI pursuant to a U. S.-U. K. Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). Her Majesty’s Government claimed they were seeking “evidence” in a 40-year old killing in N. I.  Nothing could be further from the truth.              

So why the cover story? The Labor Party-negotiated 1998 Irish peace pact contained key justice provisions that if complied with, would challenge the credibility of Britain’s  “honest broker” role in Northern Ireland, a role so carefully nurtured in Congress and the media.  The justice provisions consisted of: providing the Irish Government information on the British Army role in the 1976 Dublin-Monaghan bombings, the deadliest day of the Troubles, supporting an independent public inquiry into Britain’s admitted murder of attorney Patrick Finucane; and properly investigating 800 mostly Catholic, murders. All Belfast Agreement requirements.  All denied or corrupted by the Cameron government.   

Decades of conflict in Ireland seem fueled by British policies that are scripted from Nicolai Machiavelli’s 1532 treatise titled “The Prince”, a political essay Bertrand Russell called “.. a  textbook for gangsters.”  Machiavelli advocated  leaders mask their intentions, act against mercy, frankness and religion and claimed the end always justifies the means. The real purpose of the British subpoenas was drawn straight from “The Prince” playbook.  The highly publicized request was Britain’s attempt to link Irish politician and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to a 1972 killing in an attempt to smear him during his run for a seat in the Irish Dail. And there is a more sinister purpose. It was to put  fear into those former loyalist paramilitaries whose taped interviews are in the Boston College archives and who know the British government had more paid murderers on their payroll in N. I. than Whitey Bulger had FBI agents assisting his murder spree.  One loyalist  got the message and has retrieved  his interview. Machiavelli would be proud.

But a funny thing happened: Boston College and the oral history project authors sued against this misuse of the MLAT and were joined in the political pushback by Irish-American groups including the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish American Unity Conference and Brehon Law Society.  Civil libertarians also argued the British demand did not qualify for MLAT use and abused constitutional protections. Activists point out Britain’s failure to abide by the justice provisions of the Good Friday peace pact include British P.M. Cameron’s rehiring of retired police officers to investigate the very murders that they may have colluded in. Talk about a stacked jury!!  Particularly galling is Cameron’s demand for information from the U. S. while dismissing the independent hearing requirement into the murder of attorney Patrick Finucane.  Imagine asking the chief law enforcement officer of the U. S. to grant this dubious demand for data from a major university after admitting the murder of an officer of the court in N. I. and holding no one accountable. 

The Obama administration by now must realize the truth of Britain’s lawless legacy in Ireland and their willingness to violate international treaties and America’s trust to ensure that the history of the conflict will be the one Britain dictates. In the past, GOP Attorneys General would jump to serve the United Kingdom –  blocking a visa for Gerry Adams, opposing political prisoner status for those fleeing NI State-sponsored violence or giving the wink and nod to the sale of powerful weapons to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (which Congress supposedly had prohibited). If Eric Holder grants this British request he will be the first Democratic Attorney General obstructing the truth of British rule in Ireland and undermining a foreign policy priority: the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. As producer Spike Lee might say:  “Do the right thing, Mr. Holder.”

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