03 November, 2008

An absentee ballot for Obama

The die is cast, in my case anyway.

I posted off my absentee ballot two weeks ago, and hope that it'll get there on time.

I've read the books, 'Dreams from my Father', the 'Audacity of Hope', and I'm hoping Barack Obama gets in.

Of course I'm also hoping for good things from the US Green Party candidate Cynthia Ann McKinney and her running mate 'hip hop' Rosa Clemente, but I'm not expecting too many surprises. Ralph Nader is also on the ticket again, as Peace and Freedom Party candidate, along with running mate Matt Gonzalez from San Francisco. It's an uphill struggle, being green in a country that is dominated by two large political parties, and I can only imagine the challenge in the US.

It was interesting being in studio in RTE this morning in the presence of American economist and Obama advisor Robert Shapiro. His view is that McCain has only a 2% chance of winning. I only hope he's right, certainly Pollster.com seems to be agreeing with him this morning. He was in town for a conference on foreign direct investment in UCD , and he was upbeat that our
highly educated workforce, state of the art infrastructure (his words, not mine!) and local demand in the EU for goods from US subsidiaries here would help pull us through. McCain has been repeatedly citing Ireland's 11% Corporation tax (it's actually 12.5%) versus 37% in the US as part of his campaign, so it was reassuring to hear an economist with a Harvard PhD be so upbeat.


I was in studio to discuss extraordinary rendition, and last week the Government set up a new Cabinet Sub-Committee to discuss, as it was rather delicately put 'Aspects of International Human Rights'. The bottom line is Gardaí on planes, and I think that is what we'll get.

One of the first pieces of paper on the desk of the winning Presidential candidate will be a letter from the Irish Government stating our opposition to extraordinary rendition, the detention facility at Guantanamo and intensive interrogation techniques such as water-boarding which are internationally considered to constitute torture. I hoping that we'll be the first European country out of the traps on that one.

There's also an intention to strengthen the legislation on search and inspection of aircraft, if required, and the Gardaí will be asked to keep the Committee briefed. In addition the Minister for Justice will update the Committee on steps taken to give effect to the Human Rights training as outlined in the Programme for Government. I'm hopeful that this represents some progress in the right direction.

My fingers are crossed for Tuesday night!


Mic Mac said...

Hi Ciaran,
I know that you must choose your words carefully, but really! "intensive interrogation techniques such as water-boarding"?
The word you are searching for is "torture".

Ciarán said...

Michael, just to clarify, I've modified the post to add " ...which are internationally considered to constitute torture..."

Natalie said...

Delighted you could attend the event - hopefully see you at the next one in April!

Neil Ward said...

Nice to meet you last night - I trust you enjoyed waking up and realising that, unlike 2000, the tide had not turned the other way overnight!

John said...

FYI,TD Cuffe.....I just reported your case to the US State Department (they're the ones who decide cases regarding revocation of US citizenship) and I'm told that you could possibly be in violation of US laws and/or regulations regarding citizenship and may well be subject to having your US citizenship revoked.I'm told that their lawyers will be reviewing your case.If you're curious about what's going on perhaps you should consult a lawyer who knows US citizenship laws/regulations,tell him/her who you are and what you do and he/she will tell you that you just might be in trouble...regarding being able to keep your US citizenship.Have a nice day! And no need to thank me...any decent US citizen

Ciarán said...

Hi folks.

My view is, that given that I am not an ‘office-holder’ (as defined in Irish law), and have not sought election with the intention to relinquish my US nationality, I can continue to hold both Irish and US citizenship.

Some information on the Cornell Law site states the following:

“A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality ...
...(4) (A) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state...”

The link is here:

All the best, Ciarán

John said...

Ah,but the problem with your statement,Mr Cuffe,is that the State Department couldn't care less how *Irish* law defines "office holder",it's how *our* laws define the term.Rather than depending on some website to set your mind at ease I suggest you'd be wise,*very* wise,to consult a lawyer experienced in the paractice of *US* citizenship law.And...there's one other surprise in store for you regarding your US citizenship...one that the lawyer you consult (as if your arrogance will ever allow *that* to happen) will tell you *all* about.Rest assured,my European friend,that I'll do everything within my power to have you stripped of your US citizenship.And,from what the woman at the State Depratment told me today,I *just might succeed*.Then,you'll be able to vote in European elections to your heart's content but *never* again in a US election. Have a great day!

Ciarán said...


It's the 'Have a great day' bit that I'm having trouble understanding.

I guess there's no 'irony' typeface


John said...

Yes,Mr Cuffe,there's more than a little bit of sarcasm contained in my "have a great day" comment.In case you haven't figured it out I have a problem...a *serious* problem....with foreigners voting in our elections.And you,sir,*are* a foreigner in my country...in every sense of the word.I would never,in a million years,deem it appropriate or moral for me to vote in a foreign country even if that country's laws allowed it and would *never* do it.I am curious about one thing,however.Given that you weren't born here how did you obtain US citizenship? Was it through the naturalization process? If so,didn't you take an oath of allegiance to the US and didn't you officially renounce any and all other citizenships you had at the time? I know you did because I've read the US citizenship oath.And then you sought election to the Irish Parliament.I'll wager that many of your constituents would be disturbed to hear that you've sworn allegiance to a foreign power (and officially renounced your Irish citizenship)...and to the United States of America no less...the source of all death,destruction and suffering that occurs on this planet.Why don't you send a special announcement to the voters in your district that you've done that.I'll wager that they'd be so *thrilled* to hear it that they'd make sure you became just another unemployed cycling enthusiast at the next Parliamentary election

WorldbyStorm said...

John, before you work yourself into a dangerous froth of self-righteousness perhaps you might note that Arnold Schwarznegger also holds joint citizenship, of the US and Austria. And irony of ironies, back in 2005 an Austrian Green party member sought to have it revoked due to his support for the death penalty as... er... Governor of an US State.

I'm presuming your letter is in the post to one, other or best of all both nations respective authorities.

John said...

Yes,I clearly recall Austria's efforts to revoke his citizenship there.Austria,like the United States (and Ireland) is a sovereign nation that's entitled to have citizenship laws and to enforce those laws.If Mr Schwarznegger was at some point in violation of those laws then it's completely understandable that that sovereign nation would enforce them and Mr Schwarznegger must accept the consequences.The same is true of Mr Cuffe.It very much appears that he's in serious violation of one or more of our citizenship laws and the "punishment" for that violation is loss of said citizenship.No country...even the most open and "modern"...looks kindly at acts by their citizens that demonstrate divided loyalties as do Mr Cuffe's...and perhaps Mr Schwarznegger's as well (in respect to Austrian law).I say let the chips fall where they may for both men.

ryano said...

Ciarán, please do keep us updated on the outcome of John's campaign to have you stripped of your citizenship.

John, is your problem with "foreigners voting in our elections" generally or do you have a problem with Ciarán specifically?

Mr Anon Plussed said...

I notice the address on the envelope is not where you currently reside. Isn't that voter fraud? Forget the deranged ramblings of angry men but as a TD, don't you think there is an issue at stake here.

Ciarán said...

Thanks AP,
No suggestion of fraud in my reading or understanding of the law,as I stated in an earlier comment on this post.

John said...

To Ryano...before I read this piece about Mr Cuffe I didn't know him from Adam.But it's plainly clear that he's European,he was born in Europe,is an elected member of a European Parliament and thus,morally speaking,has no business voting in US elections *just* as I have no business,morally speaking,to *ever* vote in an Irish election even though,under Irish Law,I could claim Irish citizenship and be legally entitled to vote in Irish elections (three of my grandparents were born in Kerry and,as a result,I'm automatically entitled to Irish citizenship once I've presented the proper documentation to the nearest Irish Consulate).

And,as I've said earlier,under US citizenship law he's committed at least one "expatriating act" which could (and,hopefully,will) result in his loss of US citizenship.

Given that he wasn't born in the Us the only two ways he might have gained US citizenship to begin with is to either have had a US citizen parent or by having completed the naturalization process (during which he would have sworn to renounce any other citinships he might have had at the time).In short...unlike (I'll wager) Mr Cuffe...and President Osama...I am not a "world citizen"
and reject the entire concept of "world citizenship".*That* is why I'm outraged by his having voted in one of our elections.

And to Mr "Plussed"...assuming that you're a European who sees himself as a "world citizen" I assure you that your opinions mean less than nothing to me.

Mic Mac said...

Hi Ciaran,
I left this topic alone for a while, given everything else that is going on. But recent disappointing developments with the new US administration have compelled me to return to it.(Obama Administration Maintains Bush Position on 'Extraordinary Rendition' Lawsuit (http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/02/obama-administr.html))
Couple of questions for ya:
Did the Irish government send that letter that you mentioned?
Who else is on the Cabinet Sub-committee?
Can you say whether you consider waterboarding to be torture?
Best Regards
Michael McElree

Ciarán said...

I checked with the US Embassy, and they didn't appear to have aproblem with it.

Ciarán said...


I'd say the Irish government did send that letter. Check back with me in a week, and I'll know for definite.

My understanding is that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Justice and the Minsiter for Transport as well as the Green Senior Ministers are on it.

Oh, and I do consider waterboarding to be torture.


Mic Mac said...

Hi Ciaran,
What's the news on that letter? Nothing else happening in politics at the moment, so you must have had plenty of time to check this out....

Ciarán said...


This just in: - rather long but I think it is a decent reply:
"The Government’s opposition to extraordinary rendition and to the use of intensive interrogation techniques such as water-boarding, which are internationally considered to constitute torture, and its support for the early closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, have been made clear on many occasions. This position was communicated by our Embassy in Washington to the incoming US administration during the transition period following last November’s election. Since the inauguration of President Obama it has been re-confirmed to the US Embassy here. The issues involved were most recently discussed at a meeting between officials of my Department and of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and a senior State Department representative in Dublin on 9 February.

On 22 January, President Obama signed three Executive Orders and one Presidential Memorandum in relation to the detention policy of the US and related matters. I have warmly welcomed his decision to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay within a year. I also welcome provisions in the Executive Order entitled ‘Ensuring Lawful Interrogations’ which relate to the prohibition of interrogation methods incompatible with the Geneva Conventions, to the expeditious closure of CIA facilities, and to the need to ensure access to all prisoners by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Taken together, these measures represent an important step towards meeting our concerns regarding Guantanamo.

The President has also established a Special Task Force which as part of its remit will ‘study and evaluate the practices of transferring individuals to other nations in order to ensure that such practices comply with the domestic law , international obligations and policies of the United States and do not result in the transfer of individuals to other nations to face torture or otherwise for the purpose, or with the effect, of undermining or circumventing the commitments or obligations of the United States to ensure the humane treatment of individuals in its custody or control’.

While we would prefer to see a clear renunciation of the practice of rendition in any circumstances, the Special Task Force’s terms of reference include some clearly very positive elements. We will continue to follow developments, including the eventual findings of the Special Task Force, carefully and will convey any further views to the Administration as necessary."

Mic Mac said...

Thank you very much. That is pretty much what I would hope our Government position to be. It's just a pity that it has taken so long to state it clearly. In our small corner of Europe we have a deeply-ingrained habit of turning a blind eye to certain morally or legally reprehensible activities, in order to avoid any possibility of offending powerful interests. I wonder if there are other examples of this behaviour that could be noticed...
Thanks again for your help.