Monday, April 25, 2016

What the Anthony McIntyre Subpoena is Not

British and Irish newspapers have begun to cover the latest subpoena served on Boston College for Belfast Project materials, and some are getting big parts of the story wrong. Most egregiously, David Lawler writes in the Telegraph that the newly subpoenaed materials "could shed light on the infamous abduction of Jean McConville in 1972."

Doubling down, Lawler's story later ascribes this view to the Police Service of Northern Ireland: "The PSNI believes McIntryre's interviews with former IRA members could indicate what role, if any, Gerry Adams had in the kidnap and murder of McConville."

Not true. Not close to true.

Start with the subpoena itself, which directly declares the categories of crime that are supposedly under investigation:

The subpoena sent to Boston College tells us that police are investigating "alleged violations of the laws of the United Kingdom, namely, attempted murder, possession of explosives with intent to endanger life, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, and membership of a proscribed organization."

Notice the absence from that list of the crimes of kidnapping and murder, the two things that were done to Jean McConville.

But that's only one of the reasons we know this new subpoena isn't about Jean McConville. Recall that Boston College received two sets of subpoenas back in 2011: A first set for particular interviews undertaken with Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes, and a second (and later) set requesting all interviews that described the McConville matter.

Burns Librarian Robert O'Neill, the university official responsible for archiving the Belfast Project, told the federal district court that he was unfamiliar with the collection he had spent years receiving and cataloging. That claim led Judge William Young to perform a complete in camera review of every IRA interview in the collection, personally determining which interview materials were germane to a request for evidence in the McConville case. Young ordered all of those materials sent to the PSNI.

Now: The PSNI has returned to Boston, through the agency of the US Attorney's Office, to seek Anthony McIntyre's interviews, so...

1.) The PSNI doesn't already have McIntyre's interviews, but

2.) Four years ago, every Belfast Project interview with material about the McConville murder was sent to the PSNI.

Therefore, McIntyre's interviews were not among those that contained material about the McConville killing. Because they would already be in Belfast, lodged with the police, if they did.

Anthony McIntyre's interviews don't contain information about the McConville killing, and the new subpoena doesn't mention kidnapping or murder. It's not at all correct to link this new subpoena for McIntyre's interviews to McConville. Stop doing it.

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