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Editorial Rupert, the Constitution, the FBI

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The murky world of David G. Rupert, the American informer who seems to be at the heart of the case against alleged Real IRA leader Mickey McKevitt, is gradually being brought to light. Rupert, a tax evader who owes the IRS hundreds of thousands of dollars, was a relative unknown a year ago. Now he is being paraded by the media as the key to putting away a man against whom the police on both sides of the Irish border have been trying to bring charges for years.

It is also being said that Rupert was working for the FBI.

The FBI, of course, will neither confirm nor deny the allegation. However, there seems to be enough information to believe that Rupert was linked to some agency working on behalf of our government. This raises some legitimate concerns, which the media has yet to address.

Last week, the Washington Times, shortly before the revelations about Rupert’s tax fraud were made public, hailed him as an American patriot for working against people who supported terrorist organizations. In fact, the truth is somewhat more complex than this.

To begin with, the National Irish Freedom Committee, the fund-raising organization of which Rupert was a member, was not a terrorist organization. It was engaged in a politically legitimate and constitutionally protected activity. If American citizens choose to raise money to support organizations that are opposed to the Good Friday agreement, they are well within their rights to do so, regardless of how misguided their reasoning. As for the IFC’s agenda, it is a public one, and many of its meetings and activities are open to the public. As such, there would seem to be little reason for the FBI to infiltrate the group. Bwhat’s more, a spokesman for the FBI told this newspaper that "no violations of federal law were involved." So what was David Rupert doing?

One of the meetings of the Irish Freedom Committee to which Rupert was privy was that concerning visa denial. Many Irish Americans who are against the use of violence in Northern Ireland are still opposed to visas being denied to spokespersons for parties such as Republican Sinn Fein. They want to hear what they have to say, just as for years they wanted spokespersons for Sinn Fein to be allowed to make their case in the U.S. The Irish Freedom Committee, like Irish Northern Aid before it, has been campaigning to overturn this U.S. policy that formerly had been applied to people such as Gerry Adams and that resulted in Irish Americans being denied a right to hear Adams until 1994.

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There is nothing illegal about such activity. Yet Rupert, as a presumed FBI informant, was monitoring discussions between IFC members and Marion Price, a spokesperson for Republican Sinn Fein, to whom a visa had been denied.

If there is evidence that they were involved in arms smuggling or other nefarious activities, then the government has the right and duty to prevent it. Apparently, that was not the case. Ergo, the government has no business intruding in this way into the legitimate political activities of its citizens, just because their views on the Irish problem and how to solve it may not correspond to the current policies being pursued by the Irish and British governments.

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