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July 19, 2006

Accusations Fly As Treaty Gets DC Hearing


"Not only do Irish Americans feel threatened, but also
this law threatens both due process and judicial review
as it pertains to all United States citizens." LETTER

Accusations Fly As Revised Treaty Gets D.C. Hearing

By Ray O'Hanlon

More than just controversy over its precise provisions
is swirling around the revised U.S./U.K. Extradition
Treaty, set for another hearing in Washington this

Irish-American activists were up in arms at the outset
of the week claiming betrayal of a promise made by top
members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last

Leading the charge of accusers was Professor Francis
Boyle of the University of Illinois who, as of Monday,
was being allotted all of seven minutes to voice
collective Irish-American fears over the treaty at a
Capitol Hill hearing set for Wednesday.

The latest hearing is part of what has been a drawn-out
process of ratification for a document signed almost
three years and four months ago.

Boyle's was the sole voice from among a long line of
Irish American objectors being permitted to speak and
he reacted angrily to what he saw as a diminution of
Irish-American critical input.

By Tuesday, however, the Foreign Relations Committee
had apparently relented. The hearing was moved to
Friday with Boyle's testimony to be accompanied by
additional, supportive statements from the Ancient
Order of Hibernians and the Irish-American Unity

The revised treaty was signed in March 2003 by then
U.S. attorney general, John Ashcroft, and the British
home secretary at the time, David Blunkett.

In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Ashcroft made
no specific reference to any conflict, group or
country. However, Irish-American activist groups
immediately saw Northern Ireland between the treaty's

Objections were immediately made, most notably in a
letter from the AOH to Foreign Relations chairman, Sen.
Richard Lugar, and the ranking Democrat on the
committee, Sen. Joe Biden.

The letter urged both to examine "and then oppose"
ratification of the treaty.

"Not only do Irish Americans feel threatened, but also
this law threatens both due process and judicial review
as it pertains to all United States citizens," the
letter to Lugar and Biden stated.

"This document recalls the extradition treaty signed in
London on June 8, 1972, which was subsequently amended
by the Supplementary Treaty signed in Washington on
June 25, 1985," the letter continued.

The letter argued that those treaties were sufficient
and there was no reason to feel they were inadequate
"with the exception that the present Department of
Justice wishes to curry favor with the United Kingdom."

The AOH letter said that the latest treaty would remove
the right Of U.S. citizens to protest against the
government of the United Kingdom without fear of
frivolous charges.

"There is no need for this treaty to be ratified," the
letter argued.

Objections by the AOH, Professor Boyle, the Irish
American Unity Conference, the American Civil Liberties
Union and others seemed to have an effect.

Against a backdrop of such mounting criticism the
Foreign Relations Committee declined to vote on the
revised treaty at the end of its November hearing, this
at a point where ratification had already been delayed
by more than two-and-a-half years.

Since that time it has become clear that the treaty's
scope, if ratified, would extend well beyond Irish
America as evidenced in recent days by the extradition
cases in Britain surrounding the so-called "NatWest
Three" and accused computer hacker Gary McKinnon.

Irish-American critics of the revised treaty have not
been particularly focused on these cases although Boyle
viewed the first visit to Washington last week of
current British foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, in
the context of British government efforts to finally
seal the treaty deal.

Beckett was asked about the treaty, and the Senate's
laggardness, during a joint press conference with U.S.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Beckett replied that she could "understand and accept"
that it wasn't an American priority.

This, on the surface at least, seemed to play down the
importance once attached to the treaty by John

However, a reports in the Financial Times indicated
that Beckett, together with a second British government
visitor to Washington last week, Baroness Scotland, was
working to see the treaty advance to a full Senate

"Baroness Scotland and Margaret Beckett, the foreign
secretary, used meetings last week with senators and
administration officials to push for quick ratification
of the pact," the paper reported.

It is into this convoluted mix that Francis Boyle will
deliver his argument on Friday.

Boyle, together with the AOH and IAUC representatives,
will be arguing against a trio of treaty supporters.
One of the three is a Duke University Law professor,
Madeline Morris, who, according to Boyle, is currently
seconded to the State Department.

"According to her own CV posted on the Duke University
Law School's website ...Professor Morris currently
works for the United States Department of State, which
is already on record as supporting the extradition
treaty," Boyle wrote the Foreign Relations Committee in
advance of the hearing.

Before the Foreign Relations panel changed the hearing
date, and its composition, Boyle had complained to the
committee claiming that the presence of Morris on a
panel alongside him had violated the "solemn and public
promises" given to Irish Americans "by both Senator
Lugar and Senator [Chris] Dodd on Nov. 15, 2005 that we
Irish Americans would have a hearing all unto ourselves
in order to present the case against the treaty."

"She [Morris] is a ringer for the State Department. We
are not getting a hearing but are being set-up for a
railroading," Boyle told the Echo Monday. Boyle was
furious not just because he would share the panel alone
with Morris, but because the Hibernians, IAUC and ACLU
were to be excluded from the hearing.

In an email to the Foreign Relations Committee
confirming his attendance, Boyle highlighted the fact
that he was the sole voice representing Irish America.

He said he had never heard of Prof. Morris and that
Morris was not involved in any Irish-American
activities and causes that he was aware of.

"I can only conclude that since she is not involved in
Irish America's campaign against this treaty, that she
is appearing on the panel with me in order to support
the treaty and to disagree with me," Boyle stated.

"I have no problems with Professor Morris being on the
panel in order to disagree with me. But this panel does
not represent the public promises made by Senators
Lugar and Dodd that it would be devoted to, and
include, those Irish Americans who oppose the treaty."

He requested that opponents of the treaty have a second
panel at a later time.

"That way, there would be two panels against the treaty
and two panels in favor of the treaty. Fair is fair,"
Boyle concluded.

His plea apparently fell on receptive ears.

In addition to evidence from Boyle and Morris,
meanwhile, testimonies will also be taken at Friday's
hearing from legal representatives of the U.S. Justice
Department and again the State Department sitting on a
second, separate, panel.

Against the backdrop of the hearing, the AOH Political
Education Committee issued a "legislative alert" urging
Hibernians to contact senators to express opposition to
the treaty.

The British government, the alert charged, was putting
"a lot of pressure" on the U.S. Senate.

"The British want that treaty ratified now over the
objections of so many American citizens. Should we as
Americans bow to them or stand up to them?

"This is a non-partisan issue, this is an American
issue. It is neither conservative nor liberal. We need
you to stand up for our country and be counted," the
alert concluded.

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