Following a trial by media, where fantastical CIA claims have been uncritically repeated, and background political intrigue, Sean Garland has been left with no possibility of a fair hearing in the United States, reports Francis Donohoe
For more than ten years Sean Garland’s life has been overshadowed by unsubstantiated allegations emerging from the CIA claiming he is linked to attempts to distribute forged US dollars. The spreading of these claims, and the legal attempts to extradite the elderly socialist-republican, have united a disparate collection of right wingers which include US neo-conservative journalists, the former Progressive Democrat’s leader Michael McDowell and faceless CIA operatives.
The “super dollar” allegations first emerged in 2000 in The China Threat, a book written by a journalist, Bill Gretz, who openly boasts of close links with the CIA. In this work Gertz uncriticaly repeats information from what he claims is a 1997 US Secret Service document which states that Garland “is suspected of being involved with counterfeiting US currency, specifically, the Supernote, a high quality counterfeit $100 bill.”
The allegations would reappear in a 2004 BBC Northern Ireland Spotlight programme which featured an interview with a silhouetted figure it claimed was a North Korean defector as well as footage of an actor presented to look like surveillance images of Garland visiting Moscow to arrange the collection of “super dollars.” While coverage of the allegations in the Irish media has been based largely on a drip feed of information from unnamed “US security sources” it was an article in the London Independent newspaper which fully revealed the extent of the fabrications being offered up by the CIA. On the 24th August 2009, David Samuels produced an article that set a new level for outstanding inaccuracy and defamatory lies. Beginning with the untruth that the Workers’ Party “had never elected a single one of its members to any mainstream political body,” it went on to describe Garland as a “lifelong terrorist” who was “personally engaged in deadly attacks on British soldiers and police in Northern Ireland since the 1950s.” The article, which despite repeated demands for its remove still features on the Independent’s website, then claimed Garland was the leader of a terrorist group which had rejected the 1990s peace process in favour of “the continu- ation of bombings, bank robberies and other politically-motivated crimes.” It would seem the author, or his informants, had wilfully confused the on ceasefire since 1972 Official IRA with the so-called Real IRA.
The article even claimed that sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s “Hezbollah and other terrorist organisations…were being trained in bomb-making in Lebanon by Sean Garland.” More amusingly Samuels also mixes up Dominic Behan’s famous song ‘The Patriot Game’, with a pulp fiction US novel, stating Garland’s “exploits were said to have inspired Tom Clancy’s novel Patriot Games.”
The article then goes on to quote US “Secret Service” and FBI sources, who link the “super dollar” plot to Iran, North Korea, the Mafia and Garland. The laughable nature of this article has not prevented it being treated as fact and widely spread around the internet, something that its publisher has done nothing to prevent. Even more concerning is the nature of the legal machinations behind the threats to Garland. On May 19 2005, a US grand jury court, based purely on information provided by the US intelligence services, issued the initial secret arrest warrant. This process was overseen by Kenneth L. Wainstein, then a US Government Attorney, later George W. Bush’s Homeland Security Adviser. The second (2008) US warrant for Garland’s arrest was issued by then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Both these US officials have been strongly criticised for being part of a Government which ordered the invasion of Iraq based on “secret information” that turned out to be a total fabrication.
In 2011 a secret US embassy cable published by Wikileak’s revealed contacts between US officials and the then-Justice Minister, Michael McDowell and senior figures in the Department of Justice, during 2005. In one cable McDowell states that the “Irish Government stood by to do whatever the United States Government might request in terms of pursuing Sean Garland”, seemingly with little concern for the provision of evidence to back these allegations against an Irish citizen.
Indeed even if dragged in front of a US court Garland and his defence team are unlikely to be provided with the ‘evidence’ on which the CIA base their claims. Under the US’s Classified Information Procedures Act a defendant facing charges involving “national security’’, such as the allegations levelled at Garland and their defence team are not provided with information deemed too sensitive for their eyes by the CIA. Among those who have stated that the US allegations of a “super dollar” plot are unsound is renowned currency expert Klaus Bender, whose research shows the ink used in the sample notes provided by the US intelligence services, and the paper they are printed on, with microfibers marked ‘USA 100’, is only available to the American government.
Indeed at no time is Garland supposed to have handled these ‘super dollars’, the case against him is based entirely on alleged contacts with a UK criminal gang. A member of this gang, Terence Silcock, has publicly claimed in the Birmingham newspaper the Sunday Mercury (August 26 2007) that the US secret service agents have attempted to pressurise him into implicating Garland. Similar incidents have also occurred in Ireland, but have not been reported in the media.
The numerous prominent figures in Ireland and internationally who are supporters of the Stop the Extradition of Sean Garland Campaign include;
Jack O’Connor (SIPTU, General President) Jimmy Kelly (UNITE, Regional Secretary) Eamon Devoy (TEEU, General Secretary) Bob Crow (RMT General Secetary) Chris Hudson (Campaign Chairman) Ruriai Quinn TD (Labour Party) Joe Higgins TD (Socialist Party) Gerry Adams TD (President Sinn Féin) The Labour Party Parliamentary Party Sinn Féin Parliamentary Group Northern Ireland Assembly Joanna Tuffy TD (Labour) Pete Seeger (American folk singer) Adrian Dunbar (Actor) Dawn Purvis (Former MLA) Maureen O’Sullivan TD Fergus Whelan (ICTU)
Article published in LookLeft Magazine vol.2 no.7