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the Lisbon Treaty and Libertas’ astroturf

So, Irish voters will soon be voting in a state-wide referendum on the upcoming Treaty of Lisbon — the latest set of amendments to how the European Union is run.

Since ratification will require changes to the Irish constitution, we get to vote on these intricacies where most EU inhabitants do not. Unfortunately this means it’s not particularly “sexy” — it’s a pretty obtuse and boring set of issues, and deciding which way to vote is not easy, with such snore-worthy stuff at stake.

One of the organisations campaigning for a “no” vote in the referendum is called Libertas. Aileen forwarded on a very interesting article by Chekov Feeney on Indymedia Ireland about them, which is well worth a read if you’re interested in Irish politics and the international reach of US lobbying. Here’s some snippets:

Declan Ganley, president of Libertas, happens to be president of Rivada Networks, a US defence contractor (they supply emergency communications networks to the US intelligence community).


On Sunday April 20th, Libertas announced that Ulick McEvaddy was “joining the No To Lisbon Campaign” and publicised the event with a photo-opportunity of the two ‘entrepreneurs’ in front of the Libertas Campaign bus. McEvaddy is the first member of the Irish business and political elite to join the Libertas campaign since it emerged under the stewardship of Declan Ganley.

What’s particularly interesting about this is that McEvaddy is the CEO of Omega Air, a US defence contractor (they supply cargo planes and inflight refuelling services to the US military). […] According to the [ US Air Force’s Integrator Magazine ], “industry insiders say [McEvaddy’s] company has even approached U.S. intelligence agencies about tanking services for detainee transfers, to reduce dependence on foreign air fields.” In other words, offering to provide inflight refuelling services to rendition flights so that they wouldn’t have to stop over at foreign airports such as Shannon on their way to “interrogate” suspects. A very accommodating offer indeed.

McEvaddy was also the figure who got himself appointed to the board of Knock airport with a view to opening it up to US military flights.

Nice guys, then.

The article goes on, and on, and on, detailing some shady transactions involving these guys and their US military/intelligence connections, the “astroturf” nature of the Libertas organisation, and the odd behaviour of the Libertas campaign in general.

It comes to this conclusion:

This article has examined the reality behing the Libertas campaign, the connections of its two high-profile backers, the implausibility of its message, the peculiar nature of its campaign and some of the underlying strategic differences at play. The conclusion is that the evidence suggests that Libertas is most likely to serve primarily as a vehicle for advancing US strategic interests.

Check it out — it’s a must-read.