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US Military Officers Oversee War Activities at Shannon

category national | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Thursday September 03, 2009 19:06author by Shannonwatch Report this post to the editors

Information provided by the Minister for Foreign Affairs sheds disturbing new light on US military use of Shannon Airport. According to the Minister the troop and air force crews that pass through the airport are not the only US military there. There are also two US officers of military rank permanently based in the airport. Their official role is to assist with the transit of US Government and Government contracted flights. The arrangement has been in operation since 2003 and was done without Oireachtas approval.
Planes like this US Hercules are regular visitors at Shannon Airport
Planes like this US Hercules are regular visitors at Shannon Airport

Shannonwatch, a group of human rights and anti-war activists based in the mid-West of Ireland, say that the presence of these officers at Shannon raises serious questions about US military activities at the airport. “The need to have US military personnel stationed at an Irish airport, and the constitutionality of the covert decision to allow this, must be questioned” said the group’s spokesperson. “What is so special about the cargo and personnel on board the US government planes that they cannot be handled by the normal airport procedures and personnel? Are the US military officers there on the ground to ensure that local staff do not see dangerous munitions or even prisoners on board the planes?”

In reply to a parliamentary question from Jan O’Sullivan TD, the Minister said that the two officials concerned are based in Shannon because “they are engaged in assisting with the transit of US Government or Government-contracted flights carrying US government officials, civilian and military personnel and cargo through Shannon Airport”. He went on to say that they liaise with the Irish authorities in relation to flight notifications and permissions through the US Embassy in Dublin. “They also liaise directly with the airport and other authorities in Shannon on technical and logistical issues that arise in relation to transiting aircraft or their passengers” according to the minister.

The officers were notified to the Department of Foreign Affairs by the US Embassy under Article 10 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as incorporated into Irish law by the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Act 1967. The minister’s reply to Deputy O’Sullivan indicated that the stationing of the two US officials in Shannon is not governed by a specific formal agreement.

“This seems to be at odds with the Irish constitution” said the Shannonwatch spokesperson. “Article 15.6 clearly states that no military or armed force, other than a military or armed force raised and maintained by the Oireachtas, shall be raised or maintained for any purpose whatsoever on Irish soil. If the US can inform the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs that the have stationed two officers of military rank at a civilian Irish airport and not have this questioned or authorized, what’s to stop them from stationing a whole armed battalion there? Furthermore, since no formal authorization has been given for this arrangement it means that the Irish government has effectively relinquished sovereignty to the US government.”

The Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA) have also expressed their concern over this issue. “The presence of US military personnel stationed at Shannon airport and the transit of US troops and munitions is in breach of the Hague Convention V on Neutrality” said a PANA spokesperson. The organization intends to contact the minister to raise the further concern that these officers may at times be armed, and to ask if there are circumstances in which they might fire lethal weapons in the civilian airport.

The Minister has said that the arrangement which has applied since 2003 operates “to the convenience and satisfaction of both the Irish and US authorities”. He considers it to be proportionate to the present level of US government air traffic through Shannon.
This level of US military traffic through Shannon is far in excess of what most Irish people might expect. Shannonwatch have recorded landings of a staggering 1051 commercial airlines carrying US troops or cargo in the 12 months up to 31 August of this year. During the same period 330 US military planes were recorded at the airport. These included in-flight refueling aircraft, executive jets and transport jet aircraft such as Boeing 737’s. They also included 58 Hercules C-130 military transport aircraft, typically used to deliver weapons and other military equipment to areas of military operations. They are capable, for example, of transporting the robotic Predator drone aircraft used by the US Air Force to track and hit targets from the air in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Commercial airline companies such as Omni Air International, Kalitta Air and National Airlines all use Shannon airport on US military business. They routinely receive Irish army or Garda protection while on the ground, and questions as to the real nature of their cargo or destination go unanswered. The US government ands its contractors seem to have carte-blanche to take whatever and whoever it likes through the airport, under the watchful eye of its own military staff assisted by the Irish authorities.

For more information email shannonwatch(at)gmail(dot)com

Related Link: http://www.shannonwatch.org
author by Edward Horganpublication date Thu Sep 03, 2009 21:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Some of the most serious lies being spread about the Lisbon Treaty are concerning Irish neutrality. Taoiseach Brian Cowen, and other Government ministers have repeatedly stated that the legally binding assurances they have received from the EU will protect "Ireland's Traditional Policy of Military Neutrality". First, no legally binding assurances have yet been received, just promised that at sometime in the future the EU or the Heads of States of the other EU states will give so-called legally binding assurances on Irish neutrality. This will only happen, if at all, at some future date when further expansion of the EU is being activated. We are asked to take all this on trust, and sign a blank Lisbon Treaty Cheque!

We must ask ourselves, do we trust the Irish Government who have financially destroyed the Irish economy, been involved in corruption that has made Ireland a laughing stock in matters of financial and other regulations?
Do we trust the EU, after they tried to pawn off the EU Constitution on the people of Europe, until it was rejected by the people of France and the Netherlands? Oh yes, and then they renamed the Constitution as the Lisbon Treaty, and rewrote it so that ordinary citizens could not understand it and tried to tell us that is was something different? And then no other EU State except Ireland was allowed to put the Lisbon Treaty to the people for approval because the EU and their client governments knew that the citizens of many EU states would reject it.

Secondly, Irish neutrality does not exist at present, due to US troops transiting through Shannon airport on their way to war, so how can the EU or anyone else guarantee somthing that does not exist.
Thirdly, the so-called Tripple Lock, most often cited by Minister Willie O'Dea, has so many holes in it, and so many spare keys, that it is meaningless. Where are the tripple locks, or even single locks for Irish neutrality being applied at Shannon airport?
The tripple locks they waffle about are that, supposedly, Irish troops cannot be sent overseas unless that decision is first approved by the Government, then the Dail, and thirdly, that the mission has UN approval. Given that the UN Security Council gave its approval in 1994 for the French Government Operation Turquoise that was used to protect the Hutu Government mass murderers and engineer their escape into the Congo, we must always be wary of following even the UN blindly.
The act that deals with the so-called special locks, Section 2(2)(b) of the Defence (Amendment) No 2 Act of 1960.
"(2) A contingent of the Permanent Defence Force may be despatched for service outside the State with a particular International United Nations Force without a resolution approving of such despatch having been passed by Dáil Éireann if, but only if—( a ) that International United Nations Force is unarmed, or ( b ) the contingent consists of not more than twelve members of the Permanent Defence Force, … or ( c ) the contingent is intended to replace, in whole or in part, or reinforce a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force serving outside the State …

The use of the term “International United Nations Force” in the Act is open to various interpretations, and does not just mean a United Nations peacekeeping mission. It has been taken by the Irish Government as permitting them to send Irish troops to serve overseas with the UN, EU, NATO, NATO (PfP), OSCE, provided these forces have some sort of UN approval. Seven Irish soldiers are at present serving in Afghanistan with NATO forces, specifically assisting the NATO forces to deal with roadside bombs and other explosive devices - that is engaged in a war against Afghan forces who are fighting to expell foreign forces, including Irish troops from their own country.
The Act also actually allows the Irish Government to send up to 12 Irish soldiers to any number of overseas missions without Dail approval.
In addition, Section 2, (2), (c) would for example allow the Government to send 5,000 or more additional Irish troops to reinforce the existing 44 troops serving with EUFOR in Bosnia, without getting Dail approval.

Of more immediate importance is what is happening daily at Shannon airport.
Not only are Ireland in clear breach of international laws on neutrality, but we are complicit in crimes against humanity.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 01:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

An Irish Times Christmas interview about three years ago with a US officer based at Shannon had the officer blatantly saying that he was there permanently. The press naturally did not follow this up and no Government Minister said a word about it. Even more absurdly, the US government have no established an emigration checkpoint area at Shannon which they refer to brazenly as an extension of the US 'border.' Without irony, they add that this is the only such extension in Europe. Strike one, then, for an Irish government which acted like a dictatorship and imposed these US territorial infringements upon the Irish people without so much as a whimper of consultation - and yet they would have us believe their guff over Lisbon 2! It may now actually be possible for an Irish citizen to stray into the United States of America accidentally while looking for a toilet at Shannon - and, presumably, be deported. The Irish government have given away this country piece by piece; what they are doing in prostituting this country before the Americans is a form of national abuse.

author by old codger - pensionerpublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Fianna Fail have been liasing with America and Britain for years, they have swapped inteligence and ideas and have achieved a close relationship much of witch is undisclosed to the public. The only time they refer to the constitution is when it suits their aims.
They know that we can't do anything to them and whatever crimes they commit they will not be held acountable.
Our OIL and GAS is being given away to these countries and to Europe in secret deals. Our neutrality is non existant. We are about to be put into debt for many decades to appease the greed of these people without the irish people having a say on the matter. the Lisbon 2 treaty is about to further seal our fate ( A RETURN TO SLAVERY) This time it will be many more powers that controll us .
All of this has been achieved by Fianna Fail who are masters of deception and corruption. Ireland has been living under a Fianna Fail dictatorship for many years they controll the Gardai, the judiciary, the media, and most of the state bodies and they have managed to fool the people that we are a democracy.
They will not agree to an election untill they have completely ruined any chance of Ireland achieving a true democracy.
This will not change untill the people rise up and make them change, i hope that a big NO TO LISBON vote will be the start of a much needed Irish rebellion.

author by rjppublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 11:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The comments by Mr Horgan above are incredible, does he actually seriously support the Taliban? As for the 5,000 troops to Bosnia-that's just ridiculous, it would equate to almost half of our defence forces. As for the triple lock, it is a joke and should be abolished. with the triple lock our foreign policy can be held in check by any member of the UN security council, as happened with China when they blocked our participation in a UN mission in Macedonia. Mr Horgan would do better, as former DF officer, to highlight the positive work our troops do in places such as Chad and Kosovo. The real issue is not neutrality-which is an embarassment to this country-it is foreign policy. We would be better served by engaging fully with ESDP and NATO rather than this hand wringing while sitting on the fence.

author by Edward Horganpublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 12:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you RJP above for highlighting the issues I raised in my previous posting. I do not support the Taliban as such, because they have perpetrated serious human rights abuses against the people of Afghanistan. However, we should recall that in Ireland, the Catholic Church, with the active connivance of the Irish Governments of the day, also perpetrated grievous human rights against tens of thousands of innocent children in Irish institutions and against unmarried mothers, in some cases right up to the 1990s. Should NATO have invaded Ireland to stop these abuses? Regardless of what we think of the Taliban, they do represent probably the majority of the Afghan people, and are in a similar position as Irish freedom fighters such as Partick Pearse and Michael Collins. As it happens I am not a great fan of Pearse and Collins either, and some of their followers did perpetrated some atrocities also. But the rights of peoples to rule themselves and be free from foreign invasions and domination are very important ones.
The comment about the ability of the Irish Government being able to send 5,000 extra troops to serve in Bosnia without Dail approval is of course ridiculous - that’s exactly why I made it in that manner - if you study the relevant section of the act, you will see my statement is technically correct. It highlights the fact that such Irish legislation is probably deliberately worded so as to allow the Government to do what it likes while hiding behind waffle such as the "triple lock".

You show your true colours when you state you refer to neutrality as "an embarrassment to this country" and "We would be better served by engaging fully with ESDP and NATO". Perhaps you are a serving soldier and you enjoy the mercenary aspects of foreign service.
You say I should "highlight the positive work our troops do in places such as Chad". If there were any I would do so - but the reality is that EUFOR mission to Chad, which has now been transferred in theory to being a UN mission, has been and is little more that a smoke screen for French neo-colonial policies and exploitation of what they call Francophone Africa.
The Chad mission is comparable to the UNPROFOR UN mission in Bosnia in the early 1990s that provided a smoke screen behind which the war went on for almost 4 years. The Irish and UN troops in Chad should be serving within Darfur, preventing the genocide that is happening there and protecting the people of Darfur within their own country, as the UN and Ireland are obligated to do under the Convention on Genocide. Instead, the presence of EU/UN forces in Chad and the Central African Republic are having the effect of attracting the terrorised people of Darfur across the border into equally unstable countries, which is exactly what the Government of Sudan want.
I have never been an advocate of "sitting on the fence" as you accuse. I am an activist, protecting human rights and promoting peace by peaceful means, and will continue to do so, in Ireland and elsewhere.

author by rjppublication date Fri Sep 04, 2009 15:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If they are my true colours, then so be it. I stand by them wholeheartedly and think that neutrality serves Ireland extremely poorly on the international stage. Especially when by our actions we are no longer neutral, so maybe we have dispelled some of the misty eyed rubbish that people spout about neutrality and taken a step into the real world. Regarding Afghanistan the actions of the medievalist fundamentalist like to Taliban are a world apart from any societal norms in any nation and deserve to be condemned and destroyed utterly.

As regards Bosnia, I understand exactly the point you were making, but that's the sort of scaremongering rubbish you would see on a Coir poster these days. It does your argument no favours. I am all in favour of the abolition of the triple lock and for an independent Irish foreign policy. That is the real argument here, not neutrality. Do you like having our foreign policy determined by permanent members of the UN security council? I don't And if we are masquerading as aides to 'neo-colonialism' by way of protecting IDP's in Chad, then your vision of what we wshould be doing with our Defence Forces and our foreign policy is a myopic and negative one in my opinion.

I am not a serving soldier, nor have I ever been. I have worked with the DF in a civilian capacity occasionally and I think that your insinuation of the 'mercenary' antics of DF overseas is plain wrong. MIstakes have been made, but national embarassments like people who vandalise equipment and aircraft at shannon and harass people going to do a days work, I don't think such lunatic fringes represent the vast majority of the anti-war movement. I would really hope not anyway.



author by Mepublication date Sat Sep 05, 2009 15:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

TJP, the people whom you state 'vandalised equipment at Shannon' were established by a jury of their peers to be acting lawfully in an attempt to prevent a violation of the Geneva Conventions, namely, the pursuit of an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign country with Bertie and Co's servile, bootlicking help. If you don't like that fact, that's frankly too bad, but you're not entitled to distort the findings of a trial just because you don't like the result. Your construal of an 'independent foreign policy' seems to be to do whatever American aggression requires, including firebombing villages in Afghanistan in the guise of a disgustingly hypocritical moral crusade. The Taliban exist for one principal reason - they were set up, trained, armed and funded by the good old US of A. The Afghans sure as hell don't need armchair imperialists telling them what's good for them. One would think the Irish people have had enough of that kind of moral guff, but apparently some people relish having a role in promoting wars of aggression based on fake pretexts.

author by rjppublication date Sat Sep 05, 2009 18:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm not distorting the result of a trial, not at all, I'm merely saying, and restating that these people I believe are a national embarassment. However, I don't believe wanton destruction of property and harassment of people going about their work is a widespread policy of the anti-war movement. I'm sure people haven't resorted to that as a matter of general policy.

As for the Taliban, I agree wholeheartedly with the absolute pigs ear the yanks made of the place. But if tNATO have to make up for past mistakes by getting rid of the Taliban by political will or else obliterating them militarily then so be it. It would at least be a positive move to atone for past mistakes.



author by iosafpublication date Sat Sep 05, 2009 18:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Whenever I read anyone dismiss the political position or activism of those I respect with the two words "lunatic fringe", I must admit I wonder what the side of the bed they wake up on (if on top of their subject) or if not - will they continue using such jaded terms. "RJP" has given us three comments now, two of which use the phrase "national embarrassment". Presumedly what embarrasses the nation has something to do with that lunatic fringe, this sort of problem either calls for a barber &/or clipper or a little bit of focus.

& so..,

US Congressman Charlie Wilson (born 1933) is best known as the Democrat politician who successfully lobbied the US Congress and a variety of House Committees (the important foreign affairs & procurement committees in particular which will be familiar to readers who are following my current series on Latin America) to supply the Afghan Mujahideen and offer the Taliban CIA assistance in their war against the Soviet Union. This was of course the largest CIA operation to date. c/f http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cyclone

When the Afghan peoples threw off the yoke of invasion Charlie Wilson was a hero both there and in the USA & nobody thought about the consequences of arming and training such luminaries as Osama Bin Laden and a situation which the now quite dead former president of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto went on record in conversation with then US President George H. W. Bush, with these wonderful words :- "You are creating a Frankenstein."

There are many people who think Charlie Wilson is now a national embarrassment.
He's got his own movie, with his name in the title & quite probably more people know about him than any Irish peace protester who ever took a hammer, hatchet or paint-spray to a warplane.

I must say I very quickly bore of people who argue for intervention in Afghanistan but draw comparison with all the previous interventions in Afghanistan. We perhaps could go back to the mid 19th century & look at the first British "national" (imperial indeed) embarrassment in that far of place of burkas & Islam.

The national embarrassment which bore the names of Elphinstone, Jalalabad, Kabul & of course the perfidious Khan whose name was as loathsome to Victorian English children as the name Cromwell was to their Irish equivalents.

Akhbar Khan was responsible for the massacre of approximately 16,500 imperial British soldiers and civilians between January 6th and 13th as they attempted an orderly withdrawl from Kabul to travel through a series of mountain passes and reach Jalalabad led by General Elphinstone. Only one person arrived safely at the destination.

The legacy of the Elphinstone massacre would mean that all subsequent British imperial disasters were to be deftly turned by negative pschology into tales of heroism. I could cite a plethora, however, amongst the most important I believe were the death of General Gordon "pasha" at Khartoum & most certainly the death of Captain Scott for not quite reaching the South Pole first or getting back alive, through his own idiotic planning & arrogance, but leaving like a proper hero a jolly noble account of his team's deaths in his diary. Captain Scott ought have been a national embarrassment as should have been General "pasha" Gordon. But those two were, rather like Charlie Wilson to get Holywood movies with their names in the title. Why even that great writer A. Conan Doyle would link Sherlock Holmes's Dr Watson to the second Afghan war in the first story "A study in Scarlett" in which it was revealed the sidekick had earned his bravery & taste for curry for his service in the follow up to Elphinstone & the perfidious Khan.


enough über coinín historical perspective.

After Charlie Wilson's war a reality emerged which had emerged after the first Afghan war for the British ; that of the partition or fragmentation of Afghanistan. at the most or at the least tell me how many times the British Empire attempted to secure the place & how many times they wondered if it was even worth considering as one place.

I've gone on record many times as believing that the solution to the Afghan problem lies in promoting its fragmentation into different statelets and no longer treating it as one entity. I have argued and will happily argue in the right place and on the right thread that Afghanistan is a failed entity and no more than a "narco-state" in many ways similar to Colombia and undoubtedly with much in common with Pakistan. The Afghan provinces of Waziristan, Baluchistan as others would be more pliable to soft power and the persuasion of culture and our supposedly "enlightened values" once they had been encouranged to set up shop on their own. Which is incidently what many of them would like.

So why not give it to them?

I don't think NATO or Shannon's military biz are going to stop those people putting their women folk in burkas, or anything else so ghastly in the meantime - do you?

But that's the difference......................................................................... I'm on the lunatic fringe.

Related Link: http://www.shannonwatch.org/
author by ecpublication date Sat Sep 05, 2009 23:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The CIA have a station at shannon airport and the Irish government knew it, know it (the greens) and approve of it? Id say that that has been the situation since at least very early 2003. I always thought that the lack of success of the anti-war movement in ireland was due to a kind of widespread subliminal knowledge that the boom at the time was built on sand and that the government played on that at a key point in the whole thing. I wonder where their psy-ops tactics originated?

Anyway it was good to get to know some of the heroes of the time. I reckon myself the government cruising along on what is it? 11% support? They're the lunatic fringe.

Oh and i fully agree with Iosaf's pov on afghanistan. Obama is turning out to be a warmonger, as is Brown and the sooner it's said loud and clear the better.

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