Sunday, April 22, 2012

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Chris Bray: Self-Inflicted Wounds

Below, a letter filed today with the clerk of the First Circuit by Eamonn Dornan and James Cotter, the lawyers for Belfast Project researchers Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre, responding to the extraordinary letter to the same court this week from Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Healy Smith.

The letter opens with a rebuke: "We could not find any provisions in the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure or U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit’s Rulebook which would permit the Department of Justice to make further submissions or communications once the Panel has risen following oral argument."

But then, walking through a door the U.S. Attorney's Office has opened, the letter goes on to challenge the government's premise that the State Department has not been in contact with the McIntyre family regarding the threat the Belfast Project subpoenas presents to their safety: "The Appellants are ready, willing and able to provide evidence of those contacts, if the matter is remanded."

So Barbara Healy Smith has given her opponents in a legal appeal an opportunity to point out to a court that she willfully disregards its rules, and to effectively call her a liar -- while offering to prove it.

The government seems determined to put on a public display of its bad faith and limited ability. Under the circumstances, I'm pretty happy about it.

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