For understandable reasons the disclosure that two weeks ago NBC News wrote to Judge William Young of the Federal District Court in Boston asking him to hand over subpoenaed interviews has created some excitement and comment elsewhere in the media.
But there is a simple reality to this story which may make it less dramatic or impactful than it appears at first glance. Judge Young cannot hand over that which he does not have. When he selected the interviews that were responsive to the subpoena the material was handed over to the Department of Justice for safekeeping until the legal arguments were ended. When that happened the PSNI sent over detectives to collect it and transport it back to Belfast.
Judge Young no longer has the material, nor does the DoJ or any government body. In that sense the NBC bid is moot. Copies were returned to Boston College and if NBC is to get its way then the interviews will have to be extracted from the college. Now, that would be interesting to watch.
Legal sources also tell me that on the grounds that this material is being used in criminal proceedings in which, in some cases, charges have not even been laid, it is highly unlikely that any court in the U.S. would agree to make it available to the media.
An interesting development but it may be much ado about very little.