Unlike Aesop whose fables came with a moral, our leaders peddle fables with deadly consequences. We are gambling in a ‘three-card’ game which we will never win while they collude.
The way we treated the conclusion of the ‘Emailgate’ issue suggests that there is no connecting line between Section 34, Emailgate and the David West witness tampering matter. Do not buy that.
Emailgate is not a ‘standalone’ matter. It is, allegedly, the backstory of how a government sought to manage a major crisis of confidence, as the public responded to the stunt that was Section 34.
The insanity of appointing Gary Griffith as our Police Commissioner was laid bare last week. The Emailgate case is neither closed nor baseless, in spite of Mr Griffith’s protestations.
Acting ASP Michael Pierre did not fairly and properly report the directions received from the DPP’s office. He made no mention of the incompetent time-consuming fumble in the Police’s first contact with Google.
Why did our Police believe that they could simply write Google and the latter will comply? Why did nobody think of invoking the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty before the rebuff?
In a direct question about the earlier performance of the Police Service, the two officers present did not raise the DPP’s July 2013 sharp rebuke of Stephen Williams’ attempt to dismiss the allegations in July 2013, which was described as ‘shockingly irresponsible and grossly reckless’.
Little weight was placed on the reality that the US authorities felt there were ‘reasonable grounds’ to grant the US warrant to Google. But in the end, our Police Commissioner’s only worry was: ‘I will like to get my phone back!’
With such a serious matter at hand, why is the Commissioner concerned with his ‘dinosaur’ phone? Can his performance—as evidenced by this press conference—engender belief that our police service can and will help poor people?
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s stunning lack of judgment was exposed. Keeping the purported emails for six months in spite of ‘the whistle blower wanted the public to know about the situation’ led to an unsatisfactory ending. He could not trust the Police Service to do the needful. He tried to validate for himself.
He still believes in the veracity of the disclosures. What did he make of the fact that Ruth Marchan’s Curtis ‘Tallman’ Gibson was killed, as threatened in text messages?
How did all of this factor into his decision to appoint Mr Griffith, who described his own role in the drama as thus: “[after] over fifteen years in the Defence Force […] inclusive of being in command of the intelligence unit [and] aware of the easy infiltration of emails, would I make such a stupid mistake?”
In supporting Griffith’s appointment as Commissioner, Dr Rowley cited Griffith’s stance against wrongdoing and his role in the dismantling of LifeSport. But if those were the grounds, he should have appointed then Guardian reporter Denyse Renne or the Express’ Asha Javeed, or West. The media broke the Section 34 and LifeSport stories.
Did Dr Rowley know Griffith told Tony Fraser in June 2017 that ‘Anil did no wrong’ and mulled over how else he may have handled the matter? Griffith, as National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, kept silent about the involvement of “Spanish” in the construction of the Duncan Street Police Station.
West sent Griffith packing when, as the ‘fixer’, Griffith innocently went like a little child ‘on a message to the shop’, not knowing why then Attorney General Anand Ramlogan sent him! This situation is connected to Section 34. It is alleged that Ramlogan asked West to withdraw his witness statement in a since aborted defamation lawsuit against Dr Rowley for comments about Section 34 and the extradition proceedings.
Griffith is a star witness for the prosecution in the witness tampering case, in which West is on record as saying: “[…] my recollection of what transpired is diametrically opposed to the Honourable Attorney General’s denial that he ever approached me.”
The clandestine proclamation of Section 34, which subverted the will of the Parliament, triggered this mess. On 18 November 2011, UNC MP Herbert Volney swore in Parliament that ‘nothing is going to be proclaimed before all the necessary measures required to succeed happens’. The PNM supported the entire proposed Indictable Offences legislation on this assurance at the time of a State of Emergency.
By 19 December, the then Attorney General decided not to appeal the court’s decision on the extradition of the Airport Inquiry accused.
Eight months after, while we celebrated our 50th Independence in finest of style, the President consented to the Section 34 alone! The Airport accused were among those who claimed that any attempt to roll back the clock on the proclamation was unfair.
Shamefully, we had to depend on the Privy Council to put the capstone on the mess: “The DPP had been placed without warning or prior consultation in an embarrassing position, especially in the light of the outcome of the extradition proceedings and the stage at which the proceedings had reached when Section 34 was brought into force.”
This event set off another in which Ramlogan sued Volney before, in a turnaround, they hugged and made up. No details were offered. In January 2019, Al Rawi produced a 9 August 2012 Cabinet Note which confirmed the foreknowledge of most of the then Cabinet members.
As people who are interested in the welfare of our country, we need to recognise and understand the thread between two, if not all three, events. We must reject those who try to get us to treat with only Emailgate.
This chain of events should trouble all citizens, who have to keep living here. We must weigh our future given the performance of the leaders.
For now, let us bear the following quotes in mind: “Never again must we believe a change in party means good governance. We must change the system.” (Abdullah, 2012).
If not, let us accept, ‘we are governed by mooks and crooks and will keep being jooked’. (Daly, 2019).