The following article, “The Old Lady and the Treaty,” was written by Michael Cummings, a National Board member of the Irish American Unity Conference. The treaty has been denounced by a variety of Irish American political organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union as an assault on the Constitutional rights and basic civil liberties of all Americans, and a massive effort is currently underway to stop the US from ratifying the treaty (which has already been ratified by the UK).
Another hearing is scheduled in DC on September 7th. You can read the text of the actual treaty here. You can find a pretty thorough analysis of the problems with the treaty on the Statewatch website. After reading up on this, please send letters/emails and make phone calls to your Senators asking them to *not* ratify this treaty. You can find out contact information for your Senators at http://congress.com.
The Old Lady and the Treaty by Michael Cummings
Looking every bit her age, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made her way to Senator Frist’s Office recently to urge the U. S. Senate to ratify a “modernized” Extradition Treaty with the United Kingdom. Lobbying and legislator buttonholing appears unseemly work for someone who now goes by the handle Baroness Inverness. But there she was not nearly as intimidating looking as she was when she led Britain from 1979 to 1995. Once called the “original case of Mad Cow Disease” by Labor Party apparatchiks, the Baroness was on a mission to kick some butt in the U. S. Senate over an extradition treaty that has been languishing there since it was inked by Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2003.
The treaty governs the removal of individuals from either country in the event one of the governments wants to arrest a person in the other’s jurisdiction for questioning or for a crime. Now why should the Iron Lady in her twilight years be hustling such a trifle as the ratification of a treaty? Well there is the little matter of revenge and, of course, her legacy.
First, lets speak to revenge. It is one of the oldest motives in the world and guided her every policy decision in Ulster from the assassination of her colleague Airey Neave by the INLA in London in 1979. With all the powers of the State, she corrupted law, justice and democracy in ways that inspired others around the globe. When it suited her she clothed her law and remarks about the “threat to the life of the nation” and then unleashed the Army SAS units in N. I. The “close collaboration between police, Army and Intelligence units” (now being called for in the U. S. to fight terrorism,) then facilitated British sponsored civilian killing sprees and the assassination of 5 elected Sinn Fein officials and 15 party workers committing the crime of canvassing for votes.
Legal novelties unknown in America up until now were perfected by Thatcher. They included instructing a jury that they could infer guilt from the silence of the accused; juryless courts; special rules for the testimony of paid informers and the political police; arrest without charge; immunity certificates for government killers; rules of censorship for the BBC; Coroner inquest rules changed only for N. I. and many others. The Baroness is quite proud of this record even though many believe the measures merely perpetuated the conflict. This is the road Ms Thatcher would have Americans travel. America, she argues, needs this Treaty to fight terrorism! She claimed in a letter to Senator Lugar that fears of Irish-Americans are “…entirely groundless.” It is of little consequence to her, of course, if it removes judicial review from extradition proceedings and denies Americans their right to a trial that is free of the anomalies perfected during the political prosecutions of the Thatcher era. The swift adoption of this Treaty would assure her revenge by giving British justice to troublesome Americans , the Irish here who escaped garrison Ulster and intimidate those who would speak out.
Now as to her legacy. In the decade she has been out of office she has done much to promote her view of the world, her relationship with President Reagan and how she made Britain “great” again. Virtually nothing is revealed about the Irish conflict and the policies and actions she adopted. It was a conflict which she did little to resolve and much to inflame during her Governments term. Even the useless Anglo-Irish Treaty would not likely to have come to past were it not for U. S. Speaker ‘Tip’ O’Neill belching that she was making a political football of the Irish issue. Almost from the day she left office, the Blair administration has been faced with one demand after another to investigate government responsibility for numerous killings of civilians in N. I. These have included the murders of lawyers Rosemary Nelson and Patrick Finucane, the cover up of the British Army role in the largest atrocity of the conflict, the Dublin Monaghan bombings which killed 33 civilians, British agents collusion with police and paramilitary death squads to intimidate, injure or kill fellow subjects of the Crown whose principal crime was being Catholic and/or a Nationalist. In order to preserve her place in history, the Baroness must associate herself with the fight against terrorism . Her position must be that she crushed terrorism not a civil rights movement in Northern Ireland. Historians must understand that the destruction of democracy in N. I. was made necessary for her to fight terrorists and not, as some might claim, to stem the rising electoral success of Sinn Fein.
In her missive to the Senators, the Baroness of Inverness suggested that “our trusted partnership” would falter if the treaty fails. The woman who former President Reagan once called “the best man in England” even had the temerity to tell U. S. Senators that the perception of the British people is at stake. By this it is now clear that what Ms Thatcher really is concerned about is the perception by the British people of her stewardship as Prime Minister.
Few Americans will know of or see this treaty drama unfold. That suits both the Baroness and Senator Frist just fine. He is anxious that the vote for the treaty be viewed as standing up to terrorists as opposed to a compromise of American rights and liberties. The record of the Senate is devoid of any principled stand on the conflict in Ireland or British misrule and most Senators feel now is not the time for a dose of courage. As for the dowager Baroness, she will settle back with her trademark glass of Scotch and in a toast to the “special relationship” once again make a mockery of our elective democracy.