Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Merry Go Round Clowns

Initially, the position of the government and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was that:
  • The MOU"S breached the constitutional rights of Jamaican people;
  • The MOU's were legally invalid as the provisions were in conflict with the laws of Jamaica;
  • Dr. Peter Phillips secretly and without the requisite authority entered into such agreements (MOU1 & MOU2) with agencies of the US government (DEA, CIA, FBI) 

Curiously, in the Manatt Commission of Enquiry, the JLP had distinct and separate legal representation from Prime Minister Bruce Golding. The JLP, through its attorney Frank Phipps QC, maintained the position that the MOU's facilitated the breach of the citizens' constitutional rights.

PM Golding's attorney, Hugh Small QC, seemed at times to be lending support to this seemingly principled position.

The PNP's attorney Senator K.D. Knight QC. brought to the attention of the COE Prime Minister Golding's admission in Parliament that the current government of Jamaica "wholeheartedly endorsed" the MOU's.  Surprise, surprise!

Security Minister Nelson testified that he supported the PM's assertion "in principle" but "not the methodology". In short there had been a breach. This is the first time that the objection to the Dudus Extradition Request had been couched in such terms. More surprise was yet to come.

Security Minister Nelson stated that the government was now involved in a process to amend the existing legislation to "legitimize the breach". WOW!

So we have spent much time and taxpayers funds to come full circle.  The seemingly principled position originally adopted has been effectively abandoned, to wit:

  • The sell-out MOU's have been wholeheartedly endorsed and not annulled by this JLP government. 
  • The operational terms of the sell-out have been breached;
  • The breach has been condoned by the government now taking steps to legitimize the breach;
  • The JLP regime is now seeking to perfect the terms and conditions of the "sell-out" ;
The ultimate "breach free" is deeply entrenching such provisions in the Constitution of Jamaica. That will never take place as the JLP is deadly afraid of anything requiring a referendum.

It has generally been accepted that there has been a "Web of Deception". Dr. Peter Phillips used the phrase as early as March 24, 2010.  SG. Douglas Leys has adopted the phrase to describe the events. The Manatt COE will now have to identify the Chief Spider. The "Web of Deception" would seem to involve some agreement among more than one and actions taken in furtherance of such agreement.  In short a conspiracy to deceive

However, the most recent revelations give rise to the suspicion that there has been deliberate usage of state financial resources ($40 million ) to undertake an investigation - the futility of which is indisputable. In short, a conspiracy to defraud.

There have been media reports raising concerns that high priced QC's  have been employed at taxpayer's expense. The selection of the attorneys has not been transparent.  Why would experienced attorneys need legal representation when they are merely called upon to give an accurate account of what actually took place?

It makes little or no sense to be investigating the legality and ethics of memoranda that have been "wholeheartedly endorsed", fully recognized and faithfully implemented by the current JLP regime. Irrespective of the findings of this Manatt COE, the JLP regime has started the process of "legitimizing the breach"; not specifically and unambiguously outlawing the breach. So making the breach legitimate apparently no longer signs away the citizens' constitutional rights". 

Hence more of the actions (once classified as breach) will continue but with legal lubricated conduits - utilizing the terminology adopted by the PM himself.

At the end of this COE, cotton candy should be distributed to the participants. Its character expecially its texture aptly captures the lack of substance of this enquiry.. Cotton candy after all is the customary treat at circuses - irrespective of the cost.  This would be a fitting tribute to a bunch of clowns!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Call Lorna Golding

Many reputations are being put to the test during the Manatt COE hearings. We have heard from public officials, specifically charged with dealing with extradition cases. We are yet to hear from the political operatives. However, none of the players in the Dudus Extradition Affair (DEA) has had personal reputation smeared in the press as had Mrs. Lorna Golding, the esteemed wife of PM Bruce Golding.

Wikileaks was wicked. They purported to disclose official comments made by the US representative of the happenings at a "Tea Party" (a misnomer as no tea was reportedly served). A number of damaging allegations were contained in those official communications. These include, apart from the offering to serve day-old salad made by her husband (Iron Chef Bruce?) :
  • The PAO's conversation with Mrs. Golding covered a wide array of topics, from salads and manicures to the Coke extradition request (Ref A) and Jamaica's pending negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.
  • Mrs. Golding attributed the Coke extradition request to Congressman Rangel's "whispering in Secretary Clinton's ear" and the PNP's "pernicious influence" within the Jamaican diaspora, and insisted that the extradition request had been orchestrated as a means of embarrassing her husband politically.
  • Despite assurances to the contrary, Mrs. Golding remained convinced, as do many Jamaicans, that the White House's delay in naming a new U.S. ambassador is because Jamaica has been "downgraded" as a result of the extradition request delay.
  • (NOTE: Mrs. Golding was apparently unaware that, earlier in the week, the Office of the Prime Minister had released a statement to the press indicating that the delay in naming an ambassador was due to the White House's "preoccupation with other matters" and was unrelated to the extradition request.
Wikileaks has an international audience. Internationally there is a level of credibility attached to internal US government official communique. Incidentally, PM Golding visited the salad party briefly. Mrs. Golding must be given an opportunity to clear her name. Whether or not she accepts the invitation, the terms of reference of the Manatt COE obliges the exploration of the conduct of any public person who interacted with US government officials in respect of the Dudus extradition.

  • What was the intended objective of Mrs. Golding in inviting the US government official to tea?
  • Did she receive any background briefing on the topics she intended to raise?
  • What contribution, if any, did PM Golding make to the proceedings?
  • Did she, previous to issuing the invitation to tea, inform her husband of the intiative?
  • Did her husband Orette "sanction the initiative"?
  • Did she report to OB her impressions of the outcome of the event?
  • Was she "congratulated"a la Robinson & Brady for her achievements?
  • Has she tendered her resignation aka separation a la Robinson after a different interpretation was placed on her Tea Party?
  • Who paid for the refreshments served (assuming the day-old salad was gratis)?
  • Has she ever met Christopher Micheal Coke aka Dudus aka Presi?
  • In what capacity did she invite and host that salad party? Wife of the PM? Wife of Orette? Wife of Party Leader? Wife of MP for West Kingston or just Lorna G?
The US communique highlighted in its conclusion -
Mrs. Golding insisted that she had invited the PAO to have tea on her own initiative and that the PM, although aware of the meeting, hadn't put her up to it. This is likely true, given that Mrs. Golding appeared completely unprepared, could not stay on message, and had no apparent talking points or agenda.
Will the Manatt COE come to a similar conclusion in its finding?

Source: UK Guardian

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cartoon & Cash Cow

We have been told that the budget allocation for the Dudus/Manatt COE is approximately J$40million. We have also been informed that the remuneration package for the Chairman is approximately J$30,000.00 per hour.

We have not been told if the hourly rate is confined to the public sittings; or if it applicable to consultations between Commissioners; or to deliberations in compiling the final report. Neither have we been informed of the remuneration packages of the other Commissioners, the Secretary, Counsel to the Commission or his assistants.

In the interest of transparency, the Commission should make public the various remuneration packages and the presumptions underlying the $40 million budget. From the current proceedings, it is fair to infer that there is likely to be significant cost overruns, especially in light of the hourly rate component.

Clovis' cartoon in the Observer, Tuesday February 15, 2011 captures in vivid colours the display of legal manoeuverings, that have characterized the hearings to date. The talents on display could amount to some 7 QC's with junior lawyers in supporting roles.

Queen's Counsels do not come cheap; neither do those of long standing who do not have that colonial appellation. Some have attended every sitting - seemingly oblivious to the fact that the witness in attendance will not touch and concern their client's interest.

The media coverage, especially live feeds supplied by JIS to various media outlets, makes that an invaluable marketing tool. The public may be excused from the view that if you are not at the Commission, then you "nah sey nutten" as an attorney.

Indeed, so invaluable is the exposure that attorneys without any brief have sought to occupy strategic seats behind the main actors. Aware that the camera is focused in their direction, they adjust their heads periodically to ensure that "you see me now".

Well that invaluable exposure is provided free of cost to those attorneys not taking part in the proceedings. However there is one troubling concern:

Who is paying the fees of the attorneys appearing before the Commission?

One would have thought that individuals who have sought to obtain the services of individual attorneys would have had to bear such cost,. as opposed to complete ministries or departments which are represented by one set of attorneys. For example: note is made of the absence of any attorney representing the Ministry of Justice. Yet there are at least two representing the Minister/AG, two representing the SG and two representing the Deputy SG.

We must therefore ask:

  • Are the taxpayers of Jamaica bearing the cost of legal representation for the thre members of the Ministry of Justice? If yes, then what are the details of such billings and how were the legal representations procured?
  • Are there situations outside that in the Ministry of Justice (say Ministry of National Security) where a similar arrangement - private legal firms at taxpayers expense - has been made? If yes, then can the public be informed as to the manner in which these services were procured and the cost?
We have been entertained but the cost of such entertainment might engender an opposite response. There is a Jamaican saying: "wha sweet nanny goat a go run him belly".

Are we destined for a national outbreak of diarrhoea?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Web of Deception" - Phillips

Solicitor General Douglas Leys grabbed headlines recently by his use of the phrase "Web of Deception". Curiously Dr. Peter Phillips, former Minister of National Security under a previous PNP regime is reported to have used that exact phrase from as early as March 24, 2010.

Below is an extract from Dr. Phillip's Statement.

The timeline will serve to demonstrate the web of deception and uncertainty that surround this matter. It also serves to put in context the seriousness of the issues.[emphasis added]

August 25, 2009

Extradition request for Christopher “Dudus” Coke.

September 18, 2009

First diplomatic note from the Government of Jamaica requesting additional information.

Bill payment made to Manatt Phelps and Phillips (MPP) for US$49,892.62 from Harold Brady (GJ) for services rendered per billing agreement.

October 1, 2009

Contract between Harold Brady and MPP signed. Harold Brady was referred to as “Consultant to the Government of Jamaica authorized on behalf of the GOJ to approve of the engagement of MPP as set forth in this letter…”

October 13, 2009

First filing by MPP with the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) setting out the contract dealing in political activities for a fee of US$100,000.00 per quarter

October 13, 2009

Short Form Registration statement filed by MPP lawyer Susan Schmidt which declares that she is the partner who will engage in political activities as defined in the contract.

November 12 , 2009

Amendment/revision to the FARA filed on October 13, 2009

December 10, 2009

Short Form Registration statement by MPP lawyer Kevin Di Gregory.

February 4, 2010

Amendment to the registration form filed by MPP. MPP still represents themselves on the USA ’s DOJ website as representing the GOJ and confirms that a bill of US$49,892.62 had been paid. This contradicts Mr. Brady’s assertion (on radio on made March 17, 2010) that he had corrected the agreement which listed him as representing the GOJ,

March 16, 2010

Prime Minister responds to questions posed by Dr. Peter Phillips in Parliament. PM vehemently denies any link between the Government and MPP.

March 17, 2010

Harold Brady interviewed on Nationwide Radio Programme and denies that he was a consultant to the Government of Jamaica. He said he had corrected the contract with MPP which listed him as representing the Government of Jamaica.

Mr. Harold Brady issues statement denying that he was retained by the GOJ to act on its behalf in the matters referred to in Parliament.

Minister Daryl Vaz tells journalists during a Post Cabinet Press Briefing that the document proving the corrections that Harold Brady said he made to the contracts have been requested from Mr. Brady.

March 18, 2010

Statement from the Prime Minister acknowledging that the Solicitor General in fact had made contact and had met with Representatives of MPP.

He denies any contractual arrangements with them and that MPP had accompanies the Solicitor General to meetings

March 22, 2010

Newspaper article quotes Minister Vaz as saying he had received documentation from Mr. Brady, but he was unable to get to his office to retrieve them until the following Monday.

Radio reports outlined that the documents would be perused by the Cabinet

March 23, 2010

Still no further information from the Cabinet or any other Government on the matter

Since then, based on the statements made by Prime Minister Golding himself, the Information Minister, Daryl Vaz, and Mr. Brady, the country has been left with more questions than answers. There has been more than an appearance of public deception by the Prime Minister and the Government.

Source: Statement by MP Peter Phillips on Manatt Phelps & Phillips

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Questions Nobody Asked: Lewin

  • What exactly was the response of the Minister of National Security to the information you relayed?
  • You said on CVM TV words to the effect that the Minister "turned white". Could you please elaborate?
  • How long did you observe that change in pigmentation?
  • Did the Minister do or say anything during the duration of the shade change?
  • How did you react when you observe these Ministerial changes?
  • How did the Chief of Staff react?
  • Did the Chief of Staff relay any information to the Minister during that meeting?
  • Did the Minister of National Security say anything to the Chief of Staff?
  • You have said that the Minister took about ten minutes to locate the PM by phone, did this seem unusual to you?
  • Did the Minister indicate that he was experiencing a difficulty in making telephone contact with the PM?
  • Can you say, with any degree of certainty, that the Minister of National Security only spoke to the PM via telephone in your presence?
  • Can you say, with any degree of certainty, that the Minister during your stay only attempted to make contact with the PM solely?
  • You said that the meeting with the PM lasted between five and seven minutes, what was your expectation of that meeting? Were you surprised as to the nature and duration of the meeting?
  • Did the PM subsequently make any contact with you in relation to this extradition matter?
  • After the meeting, did you have any discussions with the Chief of Staff in respect of the extradition?
  • After the Vale Royal meeting, did you attend any meetings involving the PM and the Minister of Justice concerning at which the extradition request was discussed?
  • Given that there was telephonic monitoring of Dudus, can you indicate if any attempts were made to trace the source of calls made to him during the period from when you left the Ministry of National Security to the time you left Vale Royal?
  • Can you indicate if the attempts were successful?
  • On that CVM TV interview, you stated that during the interval between your departure from the Ministry of National Security and your arrival at Vale Royal, Dudus was tipped off. When were you informed of that? How reliable was that intelligence data? Have you any indication of how many times Dudus was tipped off? Was the tipping off done by telephone? Do you have any indication how many individuals were involved in the tipping off?
  • Were you ever informed of the route taken by Dudus in his move from his location to Tivoli? Was Dudus somewhere in Plantation Heights when tipped off? Could you inform the COE of the route taken? Was there any attempt made to apprehend Dudus?
  • Was Dudus monitored during his journey to Tivoli? How many persons were in the vehicle with Dudus? Was more than one car involved? Did your intelligence indicate if the occupants were armed or unarmed?
  • Were you ever made aware of the exact location of Dudus within Tivoli at any time after that Vale Royal meeting?
  • Can you to the best of your knowledge indicate if the security forces were monitoring Dudus in Tivoli up until the time of your departure from the JCF?
  • Given the plans and procedures that you have said were in place, is it your considered view that if Dudus was apprehended before your departure from the JCF, the "collateral damage" would have been significantly reduced.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

National Security Violations

"There can be no secret anywhere in Jamaica that allows the breach of the citizen's constitutional rights."

Frank Phipps Q. C.
Manatt COE Feb 2, 2011

  • The four MOU's were classified as secret documents executed by the then Minister of National Security and Justice, Dr. Peter Phillips, and security agencies of the US and UK Governments.

  • So "SECRET" was the classification that they could not be located in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not seen by those in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and apparently not located in the Ministry of Justice - specifically in the Solicitor General's Department.

  • There is no evidence to date that the mystery memoranda were discussed by the Cabinet or brought to the Parliament of Jamaica.

  • The plot thickened when it was revealed that the representatives of the US Government purported to rely on such memoranda but refused the GOJ request for copies.

    • The Happenings

      • It now turns out that the Attorney representing the JLP appears to have had in his brief a copy of memoranda and had in fact offered to supply a copy to fellow counsel from as early as January 17, 2011.

      • From the manner and detailed reference to the mystery memoranda by the Attorney representing PM Golding, it is reasonable to infer that he too may have been supplied with such information in his brief.

      Preliminary Considerations

      • The unauthorized possession of national security documents that have been coded "SECRET" is not protected by claims of attorney privilege. Moreover the quotation above is a political statement, laced probably with moral/philosophical justification, but devoid of any legal basis.

      • Indeed we may be left to wonder if the forces that facilitated the unauthorized possession of classified documents to the attorney are the same ones that facilitated the unauthorized possession of classified documents to the fugitive.

      • No civilized society can be run on the basis of any one man - irrespective of his legal acumen - deciding that national security classification of any document can be ignored because in his personal opinion such document "allows the breach of the citizen's constitutional rights".

      • That does not provide any legal justification for his unauthorized possession or the sharing of such with elements in the media by facilitating forces. The recipients should be made to account for how they got illegal possession or unauthorized access to such highly classified national security documents.

      • In some countries the "unauthorized possession of access to or control over classified documents" especially in the national security portfolio, is designated a felony (as opposed to a misdemeanor). In a world increasingly characterized by organized transnational criminal activity (and the concomitant widespread public corruption), respect for the classification of highly sensitive security documents is a necessity (even if not deemed desirable by some).