Saturday, January 20, 2018

It’s the message, not the messenger

Express editorial logo382

Mark Fraser

 Attorney General Anand Ramlogan apparently believes that hysterical hyperbole is an effective form of argument. 

“Tantamount to treason” and “subversion of the State” were some of the choice phrases used by Mr Ramlogan to describe an exclusive report in the Sunday Express about the resurrection of the Flying Squad.

Ironically, the article dealt with allegations that members of this squad, who operated as an allegedly above-the-law unit under police commissioner Randolph Burroughs back in the late 1970s, had been resurrected without legal authority. In this capacity, its members had apparently proceeded to undertake investigations using State vehicles and other equipment, with no official sanction.

Now the fact that such a group could have been illegally operationalised constitutes a far greater subversion of the State than any media report. But this seems to be of secondary concern to the AG, who at no point questioned the accuracy of the Express story. This may or may not be because the key person who allegedly facilitated the activities of this resurrected Flying Squad is a politically appointed consultant in the National Security Ministry.

Not content with focusing his overwrought rhetoric on this story, the Attorney General also took aim at another news report in which prisoners who have brought abuse lawsuits against the State have been apparently copying large portions of other legal judgments for their own cases. Again not questioning the accuracy of the Express articles, AG Ramlogan protested somewhat too much in arguing that everything was above board in the settlements involving such cases, ignoring the fact that the Chief Justice himself had expressed concern over the revelations. He even hinted at legal action based on the odd legal principle of “political conspiracies”.

Mr Ramlogan is therefore an example of a high official who prefers to shoot the messenger rather than attend to the message. Indeed, when asked if the information he clearly prefers to keep secret could have come from his own office, he said there were “PNM agents in every ministry and every institution”—a response which reveals both his paranoia and, again, an indifference to the facts of the case.

This is a point worth belabouring: the facts show that serious subversions appear to be taking place right under the AG’s nose and may well be carried out by agents within his own political circle. If so, that would explain his intemperate responses and his apparent disinterest in those persons who are undermining due legal processes.

 At this point, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar would be well advised to rein in Mr Ramlogan. By his words and actions both past and present, he is likely to be another embarrassment waiting to happen.