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.

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19 Comments

  1. Posted May 8, 2008 at 11:53 | Permalink

    While the “allegations” made in the Indymedia article might be true or not it has no bearing on the validity (and need for) a no vote. Just because two of the most vocal backers might or might not have a hidden agenda has nothing to do with that. Voting yes for the Lisbon treaty will only encourage more shady powerplays within the halls of power…

  2. Posted May 8, 2008 at 12:35 | Permalink

    I heard a “debate” about the treaty between a politician and LIbertas a few weeks ago and it descended into name calling and slinging mud around. Not helpful at all.

    I still haven’t a clue what the treaty is about and I’ll probably vote no because I haven’t time or interest to figure out who’s lying, who’s exaggerating and who has vested interests ..

  3. Posted May 8, 2008 at 15:26 | Permalink

    I’m getting rather tired of the yes campaign constantly fixating on Declan Ganley and Libertas rather than actually having any constructive arguments FOR Lisbon.

  4. Posted May 8, 2008 at 21:01 | Permalink

    Until someone can explain to me why we need more civil servants rather than fewer in the world, I’ll be voting no.

    I read an idiot’s guide to the treaty in a local newspaper and loved the use of the word “should” wherever I was expecting to see the word “must” in the context of technocrats having to obey the wishes of citizens and member states. They really are taking the complete piss out of the concept of democracy.

  5. Alia Noelle
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 21:05 | Permalink

    Donncha: Shame on you. If you can’t be bothered to be an educated voter, don’t vote at all. That said, it’s hard to tell what aspect of Irish referendums are more embarrassing, the astoundingly low levels of voter turn-out, or the ignorance of those few who do. It’s not often that a country has to re-do a referendum because the electorate was too lazy and ignorant to get it right the first time (Nice Treaty). Sinead: It’s not the ‘yes campaign’s’ job to convince you of anything. Try making your own informed decision. If you haven’t see any constructive arguments FOR Lisbon, perhaps you’re paying too much attention to the ‘no campaign.’ After all, the Lisbon is essentially a revamped version of the EU constitution, which was designed under the Irish EU presidency. Further, the STATED objectives of Lisbon include codifying human rights and streamlining democratic decision making now that the EU has grown so large. If you don’t SEE any constructive arguments in favour of Lisbon, perhaps it’s because you simply aren’t looking. Finally, Ireland owes a great deal to the EU (perhaps more than any other country); the least the Irish can do is educate themselves before making these types of major decisions.

  6. Stephan Schmitt
    Posted May 8, 2008 at 21:24 | Permalink

    I’m writing you from Germany and we all hope you have success by stopping the EU Treaty! And I hope you can forgive my miserable English, too.

    We don’t have a right on a referendum and though our best wishes are with you and your campaigns. In all over Europe the people standing close to another for stopping this unholy thing called EU Treaty. We all know about the consequences and now it is time to build bridges between the people all over Europe.

    This is the Europe of the European People and not the Europe of the European Industry and Warlords.

    Here in Germany, Austira, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and some other countries people go out on the streets for standing against our Governments.

    Take a look here: http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=5sIgyX0jeuI&feature=related

    Although there is a legal accusation against members of the German government, including chancellor Angela Merkel and president Köhler and others, because of high treason. That is because the government, incl. chancellor Merkel and all of her ministers, are handing over the national souvereignity of Germany to an undemocratic organisation calling itself the European Union.

    This governmental action is forbidden by the German Grundgesetz in several articles.

    High Treason in our law is defined as “ using violence to remove the democratic organisation of the state.” The Merkel Administration uses its power over the state media – and their associated private media corporations, such as Bertelsmann corporation , Springer Verlag and others – to silence the democratic opposition against the EU Treaty of Lisboa and to deconstruct the democratic German state and replacing it by a nondemocratic organisation serving economic interests of a few corporations only – but not the peoples interests and their legal democratic rights. The abuse of media power and the silencing of the legal opposition in the media of the state is, in the opinion of the informers of the state prosecutor, violence.

    In fact no country of the forthcoming EU totalitarism will have any significant or fundamental rights to reign itself through the will of the People. But the will of the people is the fundamental of every democracy. It is ignored by the EU and, as far as Germany is concerned, the German government, too. You can follow the links at the end of this text to read about the concerned laws and the charge because of high treason in Geman.

  7. Posted May 8, 2008 at 23:00 | Permalink

    Alia,

    it is the job of the “yes” campaign to convince people to vote “yes” because they are the ones who want to change the status quo.

    Voting “no” out of ignorance is a perfectly legitimate democratic expression, particularly when those pushing the treaty have deliberately obfuscated it and lied about its contents (e.g. Lisbon is necessary for future EU energy policy when it actually gives no extra powers in that area and the EU is already taking action in this area with it).

    Have you seen http://www.constitreaty.com/ ? This is an amateur attempt to allow side-by-side comparison of the European treaties before and after Lisbon. It is only half-done and not terribly user friendly or searchable. Why has the EU not created a site like this? It’s not rocket science.

    Basically it comes down to if X wants to change my laws, then X has to make me happy with the changes. If Y is screaming at me that the changes are terrible and X is only ever willing to reply with scare-mongering arguments and never actually refers to the text of the treaty then I’d be mad to vote anything except “no”.

    BTW despite the illegibility, I actually have spent time trying to figure out what this treaty really does and I am not impressed.

  8. Posted May 9, 2008 at 13:26 | Permalink

    “It’s not often that a country has to re-do a referendum because the electorate was too lazy and ignorant to get it right the first time (Nice Treaty).”

    Good lord. Do you realise what you’re saying there? Do you even understand the concept of ‘democracy’? There is no such thing as a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ vote in a referendum or an election.

    It’s these kinds of expressions of contempt for the electorate that make me seriously wonder about the ‘yes’ side (ala the recently leaked memo).

  9. Posted May 9, 2008 at 15:19 | Permalink

    Alia Noelle: “If you don’t SEE any constructive arguments in favour of Lisbon, perhaps it’s because you simply aren’t looking”

    People like you , who make statements like this, are in favour of the Lisbon Treaty it only lends more weight to any arguments opposing the treaty….

  10. Posted May 10, 2008 at 12:31 | Permalink

    Until someone can explain to me why we need more civil servants rather than fewer in the world, I’ll be voting no.

    Off the top of my head, the only additional civil service requirement coming from the Treaty will be the area of the High Representative of the European Union which will see a foreign affairs EU department created. There are a number of benefits to this. For you or I, it will improve access to consular services in third countries – especially those where we don’t have embassies (which is I think about 2/3rds of all countries). The same is true for our diplomatic relationship with those same countries.

    Furthermore, there are a number of areas in which Europe speaks with one voice in foreign affairs. Currently, Europe’s diplomatic relationship is done on a largely unstructured basis, with aspects done through the Commission, and through the diplomatic services of various member states. This will allow this to be done more efficiently, effectively but most importantly consistently.

    (e.g. Lisbon is necessary for future EU energy policy when it actually gives no extra powers in that area and the EU is already taking action in this area with it).

    I’d disagree.

    Yes Europe is acting in this area, but the Lisbon Treaty strengthens the basis of that, and future action.

    Lisbon introduces the status of energy policy as a shared competence – i.e to be shared between Europe and nation states. It has provision for the encouragement of inter-connection, which is a hugely important issue for Irish energy policy. Furthermore, it links liberalisation and energy policy which is important given the problems that have been encountered in this area in France.

    The issues of climate change and energy security are important issues for Europe’s relations with the rest of the world. I’d suggest that the new EU foreign affairs body will allow Europe to speak on these issues more efficiently on those issues.

    . Voting yes for the Lisbon treaty will only encourage more shady powerplays within the halls of power

    I’d argue with Lisbon Treaty, the opposite is true, as the Council of Ministers will have to meet in public when they are making laws.

  11. Posted May 10, 2008 at 14:38 | Permalink

    John,

    re energy, I have searched the treaties before and after Lisbon and my conclusion if that Lisbon changes nothing. If I’m wrong please explain, making reference to the situation before and after. I really want to know where this energy idea is coming from and if my reading of the treaties is incorrect.

    I have set out the energy-relevant bits of the treaties before and after Lisbon on my blog http://wargle.blogspot.com/2008/05/dodgy-bits-of-lisbon-treaty-energy.html .

    Particularly with reference to interconnectors, the Maastricht treaty in 1992 made provisions for trans-european networks and special consideration for peripheral areas of Europe, this is not something new we’re getting with Lisbon. It’s true that there will be an explicit mention of it in the list of goals for Energy policy but that does not make it a new policy for the EU and it is already included in the March 2007 agreement on energy security and climate change (links also on my blog).

  12. Posted May 15, 2008 at 07:45 | Permalink

    There is a better alternative than the Treaty: Free Europe Constitution. Vote YES or NO at http://www.FreeEurope.info

  13. Posted May 20, 2008 at 08:59 | Permalink

    The FOURTH REICH will be finalised by a Yes vote for Lisbon “Treaty”.

  14. Posted May 27, 2008 at 10:39 | Permalink

    @ John Gilmartin,

    comments like this make me mistrust the No campaign immediately. I have not read the Indymedia article but on the basis of who is campaigning against the treaty in general my instinct is to vote in favour of it. Also, the poster campaign on the part of the various threads of the No campaign is massively insulting to my intelligence. Libertas is yammering on about “facts” in its bus campaign but I don’t see facts coming from them.

  15. Rose
    Posted May 28, 2008 at 16:21 | Permalink

    Nobody should vote in favour of this treaty purely because of who’s backing it. I’ve just been on Sinn Fein’s website and checked out their alternative guide to the Lisbon Treaty. Interesting read. Erosion of our neutrality which is almost gone already since the war. The word ‘neutrality’ isn’t used once in The Lisbon Treaty. Article 48 is a clause that says the EU can change things without a referendum once this is voted in. Our vetoes count for nothing. Seriously, check it out. We’ll be more powerless than we are now. Why in the world would anyone vote for this?

  16. Mary Kavanagh
    Posted June 8, 2008 at 23:08 | Permalink

    The President of France may well be impeached for HIGH TREASON maintains Professor Anne Marie Le Pourhiet. The procedure of the President in claiming to be able to interpretby himself the will of the Fr. people is completely arbitrary and borders on dictatorship. The expression that comes to mind to designate pres. contempt for the popular will is that of ”HIGH TREASON”. In corporated from the 1793 constitution” into present ‘ When the govt .violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and all its rights the most sacred parts.

    The blackmail by the ‘yes camp is disgusting .’Th e overwhelming majority of the eu. peoples of left and right are against the sabotage of their nations by these morally questionable ,unaccountable, people. Germany, Denmark ,Austria all are looking to Ireland now to help them out of this trap .Please vote NO for the people of Europe. NO to being treated with contempt.

  17. Posted June 9, 2008 at 09:28 | Permalink

    re: Impeaching the French President – there is a hidden article in the “treaty” , absolving him – read his own comments about things that are hidden in the treaty. re TREASA: what level of intelligence does she profess to have??? The Russians saved Europe and the World in WW2 and who liked them then or now.Nazi Germany is alive and well and 60+ years of staying nice and quiet is now going to give them domination of 26 countries first , then sneak eastwards again ( for the oil) with more machinations , if a yes vote wins.

  18. Felix Deulcense
    Posted June 11, 2008 at 14:27 | Permalink

    as Stefan Schmitt (highest), foreigner ( France) 9 hope Ireland will stop the technocrats of Brussels, and an Europ without borders, only for business.

    You are last wall of a free Europ On september 12 1683, before Wien, King of Poland, Jan III Sobieski won Kara-Mustafa and stopped islamic invasion in Europ. Now, a 12, also, Ireland is on first line to prevent Turkish European membership ! All true European people of christian tradition are again ( we prefer even extension to Russia ! ) but technocrats from Brussels and Bilderberg Group (true world’s masters) have decided for us. As Polish of 1683 Irish people is to day, unic wall to protect European civilisation and traditions of every people With “Europ” according to Brussels, and Turkish “charia” (much numerous, and prolific, they will make law ! ) to morrow your traditional whiskey will be forbidden. Courage : you have a tradition of resistance : you must continue All free people are waiting victory of NO In advance thank you very much

    Ps naturly you can correct my bad English, but almost you broadcast everywhere this message : perhaps 10 persons more will make difference

  19. perer Lawless
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 23:16 | Permalink

    These concerns,i.e. conscription,abortion etc were made up by the government,doing exactly what Bertie Ahern did with Niece! He made idiots of the Irish people! And now,Google Lisbon, Article 48,and see how, if you vote “yes”,you’ll never be asked your opinion again! The real concerns of the Irish people are immigration, jobs for themselves and their children,abuse of social welfare,being 2nd class citizens.And they are fed up with outsiders sticking their oars in! They are “behaviourists”, and the behaviour of some ethnic groups leaves much to be desired!(Politically correct louts predictably,will interpret this as rascism.) Because of the deafening silence about the fact that Ireland, a small country,made the 2nd biggest contribution to the wealth of the E.U.,plus lies they have been caught out in,well, of course they distrust them!