Hillary and Holder Now Free to Stop Boston College Subpoenas

Today TPQ features Ed Moloney with a piece on the judgement of the First Circuit Appeal Cout in Boston.It first featured on his ownn blog The Broken Elbow and also at the Boston College Subpoena News.

In the wake of what was otherwise a disappointing and intellectually unimpressive judgement from the First Circuit Appeal Court on the PSNI subpoenas for the Boston College oral history archive, it is now clear that any obstacles in the way of Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder stopping this foolish and counterproductive move by the PSNI have been removed.

First of all, the First Circuit has delivered its verdict. No matter that it was not the verdict we wanted to read, nonetheless the Obama White House can no longer say that their hands are tied because the matter is still being considered by the courts.

The second reason comes at the end of this distinctly unimpressive and unconvincing verdict. The last four pages are taken up by what might be called a semi-dissent from the first Hispanic to sit on the the First Circuit bench, Judge Juan Torruella whose view was that while he disagreed with the other two judges’ reasoning, he reluctantly went along with the judgement, if only because of Supreme Court precedent.

In the midst of his commentary one or two diamonds sparkle and catch the eye. And one lustrous gem makes it very clear that a) the alleged offences that are the subject of the subpoenas are undeniably political in nature and b) while we as the individual appellants are unable to make that objection in court because the legislation that enabled these subpoenas, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the US and UK, renders that impossible the US government could and if they did, the subpoenas would be dead in the water. In other words Eric Holder, either by himself or because of pressure from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could stop these subpoenas in their tracks.

Judge Juan Torruella: The conflict in Northern Ireland was political

There are two things to say about this. The first is that this determination by such a senior American judge that the conflict in Northern Ireland was essentially political in nature is of enormous significance and a real slap in the face to all those, from Roy Mason to Margaret Thatcher and beyond who insisted it was never anything but a criminal conflict. Judge Torruella is, in essence, saying that Bobby Sands was justified to demand political status, as were all those other IRA prisoners who either died on hunger strikes or endured years of prison protest because the British had declared them criminals.

Hillary Clinton signs autographs in Belfast after the Good Friday Agreement was signed – she could ask Eric Holder to dump the PSNI subpoenas

The second point is that the judge has now given perfect cover to Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder to dump these subpoenas. If they want to and, presumably, if enough pressure is applied to them from Irish-America.

Eric Holder – He could take Judge Torruella’s advice, tear up the PSNI subpoenas and win fans in Irish-America. It is an election year, after all.

Here is what Judge Torruella had to say. It comes as footnote number 28 on page 45:

    Appellants also claim that the Attorney General’s actions are not in compliance with the US-UK-MLAT, among other reasons, because “the crimes under investigation by the United Kingdom were of ‘a political nature.’” Pursuant to Article 3, ¶ 1(c)(i) of the treaty the United States may refuse assistance to the United Kingdom’s request if it relates to “an offense of a political nature.” Ignoring the underlying and pervasive political nature of the “Troubles,” as the Irish-British controversy has come to be known in Northern Ireland, is simply ignoring one hundred years of a well-documented history of political turmoil. These came into focus when Ireland was partitioned, and six of its Ulster counties were constituted into Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom by virtue of the Government of Ireland Act of 1920. See generally Northern Ireland Politics (Arthur Aughley & Duncan Morrow eds.) (1996). That the academic investigations carried out by Appellants in this case, and the evidence sought by the United Kingdom involve “offenses of a political nature” irrespective of how heinous we may consider them, is borne out by the terms of the Belfast Agreement (also known as the “Good Friday Agreement”) entered into by the Government of the United Kingdom and the Irish Republican Army, whereby almost all prisoners were released by the British government, including many who had been convicted of murder. See Karl S. Bottigheirmer & Arthur H. Aughley, Northern Ireland, Encyclopaedia Britannica (2007). Unfortunately for Appellants, they are foreclosed from pursuing their claim by virtue of Article 1, ¶ 3 of the treaty, which prohibits private parties from enforcing any rights thereunder.


  1. The case is going from strenght to strength.

  2. That sounds promising , Lets hope something positive comes out of it.

  3. If it walks like a duck ...Judge Juan Torruella has for the first time in this sorry saga called it for what it exactly it is, political in all its forms and I am sure Clinton and Holder are more aware of this than most or all of us,the big question is imo are they prepared to politely tell the brits to fuck off

  4. On the grounds of Judge Torruella's rulings as presented here by Moloney, it seems like its time for Irish-America to get back on its Letter-Writing Horse.

  5. Just came across this article:


    Indeed, history is truly the loser especially in the author's assessment of the case.

    I just put this response up on where I found the link:

    I feel like the crux of this argument, though oerhaps/probably genuine, breaks down here in the face of an incomplete understanding of the greater picture of The Troubles:

    " (This, ‘let me off or else,’ line does not sway me either, though it was an argument deployed by senior US public figures including John Kerry.)

    I understand why these interviews are sought. Put in the position of either McConville’s family, or the Northern Ireland police, I would want these interviews."

    Its not so much a "let me off or else" defense. Its that pursuit of past injustices is one-sided. And as Moloney has so factually stated in most of his interviews on the subject, the RUC/PSNI were sectarian participants in the Conflict.

    Indeed, its more of a "We're letting the Para's and the RUC and any Army Figures guilty of Collusion off, but we're coming for the Nationalists only."

  6. Seems things are going from bad to worse, we all know this is nothing but a witch hunt created by those ex RUC special branch/MI5 who received massive redundancy payments and a fat pension, yet here they are, back again in paid employment through an agency run by themselves, the same people who committed atrocities and as handlers allowed there touts to murder and bomb. Who is going to investigate THEM?. Now we have Martin Mc Corey, who was supposed to be Released Yesterday Being granted unconditional bail, but, the British have stepped in and applied for, and, received a Stay while an appeal is prepared, Martin is due back in court today.
    Its cat and mouse games now. It just goes to show what the British are up to.

  7. Itsjustmacker --

    Too true. The only thing American constituents can do now is put these facts to their representatives and make it a matter of intervention or else complacency for such murderous abuses by the British Raj in the 6 Counties.

    Another thing: The RUC/PSNI cries "Poor House" in regards to being unable to fund its investigation into the Bloody Sunday massacre. How lucky for them that in the pursuit of Adams they don't have to act as hypocrites -- they'll have Obama pay for it!

  8. Hope the best for you and your family Anthony.

    I think this would not have happened, ten years ago. Adams was important then for the Peace Process, now it seems that he is no more needed by the brits.

  9. Andre, you make a good point. Perhaps Adams is superfluous to requirements now that Martin is doing such a fantastic job as DFM. However, the Brits would be very foolish not to recognize the unconditional loyalty and support shown to this man by his followers. Any attempt to use the BC tapes to prosecute him would provoke a stern response from the Sinn Fein rank and file, and rightly so. To put the leader of one side of the conflict in the dock whilst refusing justice to the Finucane and Ballymurphy families, to name only a few, would totally undermine the process so carefully constructed over many years. It is an undeniable fact that Gerry Adams was one of the key figures responsible for the peace.

  10. Anthony.

    “It will be interesting to see if Sinn Fein are as vociferous in their support of this PSNI investigation as they are with that of Bloody Sunday.”.

    I had to laugh at this after reading the document from your link above. Although I know its no laughing matter at the moment.

    But , I agree, It would be VERY INTERESTING .

    I was thinking, Doloris could have been well high when she made that statement about Driving Mrs Mc Conville to her ultimate fate, I hope she pleads some sort of illness as to her memory!!, And i hope she has not stated the same on the Tapes,which are supposed to be of no use as evidence, but knowing the British, they will find a way around it. But i believe it would be a grave mistake if they did ask , Or, arrested Adams and Others. I will say this Anthony, You have done nothing wrong, you have done everything in good faith, believing that the tapes would be safe until the death of Interviewees. Chin up and Good Luck a cara.

  11. christopher conley, jr.

    Indeed. History is the big loser. As are those so willing to make it available to us.




    Any attempt to use the BC tapes to prosecute him would provoke a stern response from the Sinn Fein rank and File ...’

    They wouldn’t claim it was another gigantic step towards a united Ireland? I know that is sarcasm but don’t underestimate the ravishing effects of the Stick virus. Once it is in there those affected can believe anything as long as it is whispered to them.

  12. Itsjustmacker

    Again, thanks for your support.

    “It will be interesting to see if Sinn Fein are as vociferous in their support of this PSNI investigation as they are with that of Bloody Sunday.”.

    Won’t it just?