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Reflections by Suzanne Mills Friday, June 21 2013
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ISSUES OF THE DAY: Placards displaying issues were quite visible during the annual Labour Day March in Fyzabad on Wednesday, where a large crowd showe...
Mark my words. The alleged Section 34 email document could be the end of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and not of the Government as he intended. Too many things do not add up; too many contradictions. The first question is why Dr Keith Rowley took the unauthenticated document to the former President George Maxwell Richards and why he did not submit the document to the Integrity Commission himself.
Dr Rowley says he expected the President to hand over the documents to the IC so why then not present it directly. Why the circuitous route unless Dr Rowley was playing politics and wanted it to appear as if the President believed the document to be real? Alternatively if the IC ruled them false, the blame would be shifted to the President. Thankfully, the President acted prudently. He did not rush to judgment nor did he assume the document to be valid as Dr Rowley had. He sent the document for authentication.
Puzzle number two: Dr Rowley said he kept the unauthenticated document for six months so he could be certain of their veracity. Yet he did not really “hold onto it”: he gave it to the President soon after receiving it. What he did not expect was for the President to take his time to act or that by the time he did, there would be no functioning Commission.
Contradiction number three. Rowley says he went to see IC chairman Ken Gordon to find out if a probe was ongoing so he could decide whether or not to bring the documents to Parliament or how to present his case. Did Dr Rowley an experienced Parliamentarian not know that without quorum no probe could be conducted? He had to know because he kept pushing President Carmona to appoint a new Commission long before he met with Gordon. Additionally, he filed his motion before he called on Gordon and his entire motion was built around the unauthenticated email document. Whether or not, the Commission was investigating the matter (and he knew they were not) he would have brought the document to Parliament because he had nothing else but a questionable piece of paper on which to base his motion of no confidence. Yet according to Gordon, Rowley told him he proposed to embark on a certain course of action, but it was a reckless course on which he had already embarked.
Rowley also knew that the Commission could not divulge information on investigations. Just recently the Commission refused to comment on claims that he Rowley had referred a Government land deal to the Commission. Yet he went to see Gordon nevertheless five days before the debate on his motion. His going to see Gordon makes no sense as he explains it. What was suddenly so urgent? Did he ask to see Gordon seeking certain assurances from him such as once a new Commission had been formed; it would immediately investigate the email matter? Was this the reason why he insisted in Parliament that the case go to the Commission, which he claimed was “independent”? We can speculate as we wish about what was discussed: there is no official report of the secret meeting.
Another contradiction. Dr Rowley says he told the House he went to see Gordon, but there is no record on Hansard of his making this statement. He could not and did not tell the Parliament about the meeting with Gordon because then he would never have been able to call for the “independent” Commission to investigate the document. Additionally, his contribution to the debate and the document he circulated differed in many aspects. Dr Rowley, forever accusing the Government of corruption and dishonesty and calling for accountability, resignations or recusals broke every rule in the book and he compromised the integrity of the Commission by having that home alone secret meeting. No one now will trust its conclusions.
As for Mr Gordon, he displayed the most appalling disregard for his office. As others have said, he should have seen Dr Rowley in his work place, in the presence of the Registrar, instead of which, Gordon passed the Registrar his aide memoire of the private meeting to be placed on the IC files, as if this was an official document when it is not. He also divulged information on the probe when he told Rowley that the email document was not before the Commission because the Commission did not have a fully appointed board, though he was telling Rowley nothing that Rowley did not know.
This email document scandal stinks to high heaven. The document is released and one of its accusations is that the Government was seeking to place taps in the DPP’s office. Days after an unverified story appears that the DPP had his office swept for bugs soon after the Section 34 issue and then another report claims that the office of the AG has camera access to the DPP’s office and is spying on it. Subsequently Rowley discovers a backdoor to his office and documents missing from his desk. Too much coincidence.
Keep in mind that Rowley proclaimed that if there were one alleged iota of truth in the content then the email trail is real. For example, UNC MP Herbert Volney told the House that one of the purported email conversations rang true. Thus, according to Rowley the email document sounds real so it must be real. He is unconcerned with what the technology demonstrates. Dr Rowley can claim all he likes that he thought the document indicated a conspiracy among government officials because of their content, but content is not the issue as the document was most likely concocted and typed up after the fact. Clearly, the emails have to be technically authenticated. Dr Rowley’s assumption that the content made them look real and that he was satisfied that there was enough corroboration in the document is ridiculous and irrelevant. Why didn’t he hire an IT expert, particularly since the discrepancies in the document were brought to his attention? Why doesn’t he hire one now, one who will contradict what Government hired and independent IT experts have opined? But he can’t so he fixates on content.
Mark my words, this secret meeting is an indication that Rowley is determined to keep the Section 34 issue alive and that he is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve his objective. As I have said, Section 34 could be the undoing of Dr Rowley.