In what journalist and author Ed Moloney believes to be an “extraordinary” and perhaps unprecedented” legal move, the U.S. Attorney prosecuting the Boston College archives case has written a letter to the three member appeals court panel that recently heard arguments for and against the release of archived material to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
In the letter, addressed to the clerk of the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, U.S. Attorney Carmen M Ortiz takes issue with statements made during the April 4 appeals hearing by attorney Eamonn Dornan, who led the argument in court against the release of file material.
Stated Ortiz in part in the letter: “During appellants’ oral argument, counsel relied on a number of factual claims which are not in the record before this Court. One assertion is of particular concern. Counsel for the appellants argued to the Court that there is a ‘grave risk of physical harm to the appellants’ from the disclosure to the United Kingdom of Belfast Project recordings.
“The government disputed this assertion in the district court, citing, among other things, the fact that there is no record of any reports to police in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland regarding credible threats to Mr. (Anthony) McIntyre or his family. At oral argument, counsel for the appellants asserted that the United States Department of State takes the threat of harm to Mr. McIntyre and his family ‘much more seriously’ than the Department of Justice and has ‘invited’ Anthony McIntyre’s wife ‘in for a
security assessment,’ creating the misimpression
that the Department of State has taken a position
contrary to the Justice Department’s view of the
Continued DA Ortiz: “Appellants’ claim of an agency disagreement is not supported by anything in the district court record. Moreover, the Department of Justice has been working closely with the Department of State and can assure this Court that the agencies’ views of the matter are compatible.”
Ortiz concluded that “in any event,” the government had argued in its brief, and at oral argument, that “appellants’ claim of potential harm from third parties, even if substantiated, would not entitle them to prevail in this appeal.”
Said Ed Moloney, who along with McIntyre is the principal compiler of the BC archive: “This extraordinary and, I’m led to believe, unprecedented letter, begs the obvious question: if the government had problems with Eamonn Dornan’s presentation at oral stage, why didn’t it raise them at the time?”
The appeals court is expected to return a decision by the summer.