By Phillip Edward Alexander
“Highly irresponsible!” “Reckless!” “Treasonous!”
These are some of the words that have been used to describe People's National Movement (PNM) Senator Faris al Rawi's decision to utilize a highly sensitive document from an ongoing investigation into high level matters of national security in the nation's Senate, and the Express Newspaper's decision to publish the same information. The idea that this was some noble leak predicated on 'the people's right to know' is rubbish and a sop designed to misdirect as the entire investigation was being conducted in the people's name and on their behalf, the findings of which were reliably expected to be laid in the public domain once complete, so that entire excuse needs to be cast aside.
Phillip Edward Alexander is a social and political activist, a feature writer and columnist, the founder of the Jericho Project and the chairman of the Citizen's Union of Trinidad and Tobago
Dealing with the senator first, this was nothing but a stunt for political grandstanding and show boating, and from the moment he realized what he had in his possession there was a responsible course of action that should have been taken, but clearly one that al Rawi chose to ignore in his zeal to make the government look bad.
But what has he really done? On the face if it the entire process can now be considered void as any and all prosecution that may have flowed from it can be considered hopelessly compromised and subject to doubt. Protected by privilege he may be spared the full brunt of the consequences of his actions, but he has demonstrated a manifest lack of professional ethics and may have by extension brought the very Senate of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago into disrepute.
And what of the Police Complaints Authority on whose watch this massive breach of security occurred? How is that to be explained to a public already woefully short on trust in that very institution? One that is supposedly built on confidentiality. It may not be a stretch to say that the entire PCA now stands compromised, and at the very least heads need to roll from the top down, but put all that aside for a minute and return to the question of motive. Why do it? Why set aside so many months of work for a stunt? Is it that the momentum to destabilize the democratically elected government ingrained in the anti-government forces prevented them from being reasonable? Rational? Sensible?
The first question that has to be asked is how did al Rawi really come to be in possession of the document in the first place? Clearly his explanation of finding it in his mailbox is more rubbish and he needs to come clean as to how he comes to be in possession of stolen property. Surely he's a lawyer enough to know how complicit he is in that regard.
The next question that has to be asked is what exactly should be done? It is my view that the net of responsibility here must equally ensnare Senator al Rawi as well as the journalist and the editor in chief of the Express newspaper, who are both material to the conspiracy and the furtherance of a criminal enterprise that began with the theft of a sensitive document and ended with the receipt and distribution of confidential information.
There has to be a thorough investigation into the entire affair starting with the custody of documents at the Police Complaints Authority to identify who within that organization set these wheels in motion.
From the purely political standpoint what I find supremely ironic is that the standards set by the current prime minister, where responsibility and consequence of actions are concerned, may yet come back to haunt the very opposition that has been ridiculing her for them, and regardless of outcome or whether or not investigations and prosecutions are undertaken, the entire PNM frontline now stands compromised.
And in that regard, like many I await to see what the leader of the opposition does next.
Clearly this was a 'cluster-screw-up' of epic proportion and someone or someones are going to have to pay. The head of the Police Complaint Authority Gillian Lucky is regrettably completely compromised due to the breakdown of security on her watch and she may have to be the first to go. For his part and his role in the entire sordid affair Faris al Rawi needs to step down as a senator or be removed. Perhaps due in no small part to their obsessive dedication to the overthrow of this government, the operatives at the Express have crossed the line and both editor in chief Omatie Lyder and journalist Anika Gumbs need to be investigated for receiving stolen property, for dissemination of highly classified information and for conspiracy to commit treason.
The message here must be straightforward and clear.
Let the heads roll.