The Obama Memo Writer Strikes — And Is Wrong — Again: Sen. Clinton's Role in the Peace Process in Northern Ireland

Dear Barack Obama campaign:

The memo attacking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) record recently distributed widely by your campaign was, in my opinion, filled with distortions and personal innuendo — and written by someone who carries "former" titles from the Clinton administration.

Regarding her role in the peace process in Northern Ireland, which the uninformed memo writer falsely belittles, objective observers should read yesterday's newspaper story from the Scranton (Pa.) Times. It quotes not only the Irish prime minister confirming the important role she played, but also many other key Irish leaders.

And as with other members of his campaign who have made false accusations against Sen. Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) should show the grace and good judgment to repudiate the contents of this memo and ask its author either to do better research before attacking Sen. Clinton again or put his inaccurate pen down for good.

The Obama campaign claims George Mitchell, the person in charge of the investigation, supports their view that Hillary's claims about Northern Ireland are exaggerated. As John Hume, who won the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work on Northern Ireland, says:

“I can state from firsthand experience that she played a positive role for over a decade in helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland … Anyone criticizing her foreign policy involvement should look at her very active and positive approach to Northern Ireland and speak with the people of Northern Ireland, who have the highest regard for her and are very grateful for her very active support for our peace process.”

George Mitchell, who is cited in the Obama memo as an authoritative source, told Katie Couric last night that Hillary played "a helpful and supportive role" in Northern Ireland that ended up making "a difference in the process." He described what Hillary has said about her role as "accurate."

More on Hillary's work in Northern Ireland can be found here.

Here is the article from yesterday's Scranton Times:

***

Ahern says Hillary ‘hugely helpful’ in peace process


BY DAVID FALCHEK
STAFF WRITER

03/17/2008


With Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton accused of exaggerating her role in the Northern Ireland peace process, Ireland Prime Minister Bertie Ahern offered his two cents.

Mr. Ahern called Mrs. Clinton “hugely helpful” in the process both as first lady and as a U.S. senator, and suggested some of the criticism of her are [sic] unfair.

Mr. Ahern addressed the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Lackawanna County on Sunday and gave a feel-good talk about the unity of Ireland and the United States.

Before taking the podium, he discussed the tough negotiations between the Irish and English in the 1990s that would lead to power-sharing and peace in Northern Ireland.

After marching in Scranton’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Saturday, Mrs. Clinton released a Northern Ireland position paper, citing it as evidence of foreign policy experience she has and that her opponent, Barack Obama, does not. In a National Public Radio interview earlier this month, she described her role as “instrumental.”

Those involved in the Northern Ireland negotiations have been weighing in.

Moderate Catholic leader John Hume credited Mrs. Clinton with speaking to leaders and opinion makers on all sides, making countless phone calls and urging them forward. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams credits Mrs. Clinton with playing “an important role.”

Peter King, an Ulster Unionist Party negotiator was quoted as saying “Hillary Clinton was totally invisible at the actual negotiations.”

Lord Trimble, of Lisnagarvey, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and former First Minister of Northern Ireland characterized Mrs. Clinton’s claims as a “wee bit silly,” adding that being a cheerleader is different from being a principal player.

Mr. Ahern said the Clintons were a force in the process, even if they were not directly involved.

“She was the first lady of the United States, not a party leader in Northern Ireland,” Mr. Ahern said. “No one would expect her to get into the nitty-gritty of the process.”

He said the Clintons made three visits to the nation and that Mrs. Clinton continued to be engaged ever since.

“Any fair observation would find that both Hillary and Bill Clinton made peace in Ireland a priority while they were in the White House and after,” he said.