2011-06-06 WikiLeaks: The Ireland Cables | Roundup of Coverage in the Irish Independent | Day Five

Saturday, 4th June was Day Five of the Irish Cablegate reports, published by the Irish Independent. (See roundups of Days Four, Three, Two and One.) Saturday's reports did not have novel focuses, but instead chose to look on distinct aspects of topics that had previously been explored in the Independent.

The IRA subject was revisited, but this time in an international context, and with particular interest in extradition and due process rights, the UK policy of internment for IRA terror suspects, the international influence of the organization, its illicit business ties, and its context post 9/11. The subject of Shannon was also revisited, in an article on how Obama's visit reversed a new government policy to apply the Hague Conventions in Shannon airport. For a fuller treatment of the same topic, please consult WL Central's May piece on the subject.

Saturday's coverage is perhaps the strongest of all the days of the Independent's Wikileaks coverage thus far, choosing to focus on substantive issues, and to ignore the more frivolous aspects of the cables, which have, more through the inadequacy of reportage than any shortcoming of the source material, become the hallmark of Cablegate in the establishment media. The Independent is to be lauded for turning to the political and diplomatic dimensions of extradition, and there is some depth here to the appreciation of how security concerns (particularly those of the US) can conflict with procedural protections for civil and human rights embedded in the Irish legal order.

One topic, in particular, draws interest in this regard. A report on page 24 (and reproduced online at the Independent's website) describes how the full displeasure of the American government was brought to bear diplomatically on the Irish government after the escape of the Colombia Three from custody, and their return to Ireland. The judiciary in Ireland is traditionally trenchant about extradition of Irish citizens to face trial in foreign courts, or sentence in foreign jails - a fact which made less likely the prospect of the Three serving their sentences in Colombia.

The Irish government was allegedly warned by the US embassy that failure to act firmly would earn Ireland the status of "haven for terrorists." We learn that the Irish government was deeply embarrassed by the incident, and strove to find a viable legal mechanism by which to appropriately bring the Three within the law. The ambassador reportedly expounded at length on the Irish judiciary's "activist interpretation" of Irish law - a surprising remark: Irish law, presumably, being that law it is the Irish judiciary's express privilege to interpret, and said interpretation being so well established in the case-law as to be the law.

It is refreshing however to read that while the US mission looked with disapproval on the idea that the Irish judiciary would not smile on the extradition of citizens to foreign jurisdictions with a "less than stellar rule of law record," the Irish government observed the appropriate deference to the courts in this matter, and apparently attempted to keep within Irish law in its efforts to appease Washington.

Another article by Tom Brady on the same topic promises to reveal how "the US suits itself when it comes to extradition." The article runs over some of the basic principles of Irish extradition law and its history during the conflict in Northern Ireland. The article makes a strong argument that - regardless of the gravity of the offenses in question - a robust approach to extradition is a strength of the Irish justice system. It does not entirely make good on its promise, however, to survey the full hypocrisy of the United States in its use of the term "haven for terrorists." The US could fairly be said to be a "haven for terrorists" from Cuban exiles in Miami, to - ironically - supporters of IRA terror. Congressman Peter King former head of the House Homeland Security Committee, is known to have a history of fraternizing with Irish terrorists, speaking in their favour in American courts, and raising money for weapons that extracted their cost in blood and tears in Northern Ireland and England. This is before the subject of responsibility for US state terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, and sanctuary for the criminals who instigated it, is ever broached. But it is unlikely that topics such as these would ever see column inches in the Independent.

Notwithstanding the stronger stance and more disciplined focus, the usual criticisms apply to the Independent's coverage. The lack of source material by which to do follow-up reading, and the non-chronological nature of the reportage, has a disconcerting effect on the reader, who remains reliant on the testimony of the journalist. The reports do not instill the sort of confidence in their issue that gives readers adequate epistemic ground to seek reform.

Confining the stories to a one day print run also gives them a limited shelf life. It is as if it is not just expected but hoped that legitimate discontent over government mendacity on Shannon rendition flights will eventually fade, to make way for the next scandal. While the subject of the reports is important and demands the scrutiny of an informed readership, the journalism, by and large, seems designed to provide an outlet for contained and routine outrage, before smothering its memory in the humdrum cycle of headlines and soundbites. It is precisely this cycle, where journalism, even in its political form, is seen as a part of the establishment - as a mere controversy factory - that Wikileaks is hoped to displace. The relatively low impact of the releases, of course, is all grist to the mill of lazy and erroneous opinions. Wikileaks may have changed international journalism, but there is the sense that Ireland has not noticed.

Online Articles

The following are the articles the Independent made available on its website.

'No change' in policy on US military flight checks
THE Government last night confirmed it will be making no change to the inspection of US military flights through Shannon Airport, despite ongoing accusations about the transport of so-called terror suspects.

IRA retained active global support
THE IRA retained active support around the world right up until it finally put its arms beyond use, according to leaked embassy cables.

US tried to force action on Colombia Three
THE United States warned the Government that Ireland would be seen as a "haven for terrorists" unless it extradited the Colombia Three, leaked embassy documents reveal.

Northern Bank raid was breaking point
THE confidential US cables from 2004-2006 confirm what we suspected: the Government had run out of patience with Sinn Fein; that not only would SF not put the IRA out of business, but that the republican movement was ambivalent about the existence of an empire of criminality.

Ahern hardened his stance toward SF after £26.5m robbery
FORMER Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was "generally considered softer" on the Provisional republican movement than either of his two key cabinet ministers during the northern peace talks.

Idea of coalition with Sinn Fein provoked fury among FF TDs
FIANNA Fail officials privately admitted they would be the last party to form a government with Sinn Fein -- at the same time as they were negotiating to push the DUP into a power-sharing deal at Stormont.

Provo 'businessmen' fronted property drive
FORMER 'active' IRA members who amassed multi-million-euro fortunes went on to front a huge property empire for the paramilitary group spanning at least four countries, the Irish Independent has learned.

Britain exposed IRA mole Donaldson to taunt Provos
MURDERED Sinn Fein official Denis Donaldson was outed by the British government as a spy to send a message to Provisional republicans that it had a more valuable informant within its leadership ranks.

Offline Articles

The following articles, which the Independent has refrained from posting on its website, can be accessed here.

McDowell backed US pursuit of Garland
FORMER Justice Minister Michael McDowell promised his government's support for US efforts to pursue the one-time leader of the Official IRA and alleged currency counterfeiter, Sean Garland.

US kept close eye on ‘Slab’ Murphy investigation
US Embassy officials in Dublin sent updates to Washington on an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau into the finances of prominent republican Thomas 'Slab' Murphy.

Diplomat in Taliban link claim kept role as adviser
AN IRISH diplomat continued to act as an important adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs after his expulsion from Afghanistan where he was accused of holding direct talks with the Taliban, a leaked US Embassy cable reveals.

Afghan stand-off ended in ‘victory’
THE outcome of a hunger and thirst strike by 41 Afghani asylum seekers at St Patrick's Cathedral was a key victory for the Government and law enforcement authorities.

Internment was ‘an option’ in the North as late as 1988?
The British government privately refused to rule out reintroducing internment to Northern Ireland as recently as the late-1980s, leaked cables reveal.

Thatcher offered to train gardai in anti-terror flight
THE British government made a secret offer to train gardai in counter-terrorism at the height of the Troubles, leaked cables reveal.

UK feared second Brighton attack
BRITISH officials feared the IRA would attempt a second murderous attack on government members - four years after the Brighton bombing.

Cables shine light on how extradition tested ties with US
EXTRADITION has traditionally been a key issue for successive US governments with their embassies worldwide expected to put pressure on the local powers to ensure that supected offenders do not evande American justice.

True political motivations need to be revealed.

Too often legislative decisions are made which appear contrary to the interests of the nations and the electorate in question. Given that most political figures seem to have little concern for the welfare of their consituents beyond the necessities of winning elections, their true motives are suspect.

To realistically begin an investigation into motives, the people of the World need access to financial records of all public figures. There are means by which agreements could circumvent such disclosure, for example, there appear to have been cases where public figures have been rewarded with lucrative positions and directorships after their terms of office have ended. However, such an arrangement would require a large degree of trust on the part of the public official. In most cases one would presume that the graft is paid directly. Most modern nations require that their corporate and private business, provide at least a statement of income and expenses.

The public disclosure of these records would provide a reasonable basis to establish the integrity of public figures if combined with the publication of incomes of those public figures. Such disclosure should not be a difficulty for those persons who would claim that their moral superiority makes them suitable to rule the lives of their fellow citizens.

Curiously, the 'Open Societies Project' of the Soros Foundation promotes this type of program. But, only promotes it for third world countries, while ignoring it's application to the developed world.

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