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November 1, 2005

Selling Out Ireland

Aiding And Abetting The War Crimes

John Kaminsky, a long-time correspondent of mine in Florida, recently sent me an e-mail asking "What the hell's going on over there?" with a reference to a piece by Dan Buckley entitled "Treaty gives CIA powers over Irish citizens" that appeared at Irish Examiner.com. It begins:

US INVESTIGATORS, including CIA agents, will be allowed interrogate Irish citizens on Irish soil in total secrecy, under an agreement signed between Ireland and the US last week.

Suspects [of what? -- JPH] will also have to give testimony and allow property to be searched and seized even if what the suspect is accused of is not a crime in Ireland.

See full horror story at www.examiner.ie/pport/web/ireland/Full_Story/did-sg46g7Ks0cvBEsg7OWirIStPSk.asp

When I asked around, only one person I talked to had heard a low-key mention of it on the radio. None had come across any mainstream coverage. All were equally horrified. Following the blithe and outrageous statement by the European parliament that the voters "didn't really mean it" and they intend pressing on with the constitution that French and Dutch voters have solidly rejected, we have another instance of governments making a farce of the word democracy and going their own way regardless of the vote (when the vote hasn't been blatantly rigged, that is!). Apparently the bill was sneaked through while the majority of the people's representatives were away in a recess.

Such shabbiness sits well with the ongoing travesty whereby Ireland, while calling itself a neutral country, allows Bush's warmongering machine the use of Shannon Airport in violation of all the principles of international neutrality -- excused by the currently ensconced Fianna Fail party on the grounds that it's "good business." Well, so much for principle and international law.

The Irish Antiwar Movement has produced a 42-page booklet, The U.S. Military and Shannon Airport, giving all the sordid facts that the media downplay. Alternatively -- click here for $US quote or here for a quote I can send anyone interested a copy myself.

Another group worthy of support in this connection is the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who do a great job organizing talks and cultural events, circulating information, and generally doing something to keep people informed of things their illustrious leaders would rather they didn't hear about. (I attended a stunning talk last year in Sligo's technical college by an Israeli army major who is one of somewhere around 500 officers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories, and are willing to go to jail over it.)

When Fianna Fail campaigners knocked on my door in the course of last year's town and county elections, I told them I would not vote for a party that permitted the military use of Shannon. I ended up voting for Sinn Fein for the county, and the Labour Party for the town. Sinn Fein were the only ones I talked to who gave straight answers to straight questions, and they were well regarded locally for delivering the children's playground they had promised. The reason I voted for Labour in the town was that their candidate, also the mayor of Sligo, walked at the head of the protest march before the Iraq aggression, holding the center of the banner.

I've downed a few pints with him from time to time in the Sligo working men's Trades Club, just down the street from the flat I used to have over the pizza parlor. I have a card confirming that I'm a paid-up member. The space for the name of my trade union says "Science Fiction Writers of America."

Note added [ 01 Nov 2005 ]

The following is from the Irish Antiwar Movement newsletter dated September 14, 2005. To subscribe to their list directly, click on the IAWM link above.

Commission on Human Rights launches new inquiry into Shannon

A major investigation into the transport of hostages to torture centers by the US Military & CIA has been launched by the UN Commission for Human Rights. Martin Scheinin who will be leading the investigation confirmed Irish citizens had brought to his attention allegations that US planes carrying hostages to be tortured during interrogation had passed through Shannon Airport.

The Irish Government & indeed the police have been made aware now for some time now the US Special Forces refueling at Shannon have been carrying weaponry, missiles and hostages on their was to detention centers in Egypt, Pakistan & Guantanamo Bay; clearly in breach of international law. It brings great shame on our Government & not forgetting Garda forces that we need the UN to step in to ensure international law is upheld. This is yet another example of how Fine Fail & the PD's put the US war machine before the wants & not forgetting security of it's own people. It also shows that the corruption & effectiveness of the Gardai is not just a case of a few bad apples in Donegal or Clonmel but in fact a county wide issue.

Peace activist Tim Hourigan has made a number of presentations to the Gardai regarding the US military planes traveling through Shannon, informing them of weaponry & hostages on board & not a single plane has been inspected. Couple this with Michael McDowell finalizing the 'instruments of agreement' with the CIA during the summer. This agreement enables US investigators & CIA agents to interrogate Irish citizens on Irish soil in total secrecy. They can also track down people in Ireland, transfer prisoners in Irish custody to the US, carry out searches and seize evidence on behalf of the US Government. It also allows US authorities access to an Irish suspect's confidential bank information. The Irish authorities must keep all these activities secret if asked to do so by the US.

The US official who will make such requests of the Irish state is US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who was behind the famous 'torture memo' to George W Bush advising how far CIA agents could go in torturing prisoners. Gonzales will make his requests directly to McDowell which will be little comfort to us all. Considering his treatment of the McBreaty family as both Attorney General & Minister for Justice. McDowells comments on signing the CIA agreement will be of little comfort to the citizens of Ireland - "the international community must do everything it can to combat terrorism with every means at its disposal. Ireland will not be found wanting". Yet another example of Ahern & Harney putting Bush's war before the civil liberties & well being of the Irish people.

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