National Security anxiety
The time has come to ask serious questions about what's really going on under the aegis of the National Security Council. As the highest level security entity of the country, the NSC is expected to operate with due sensitivity to the seriousness of its charge. At that level, one does not expect the kind of ad hoc approach that marks so many other public initiatives. And yet, that is precisely the impression given by yesterday's Sunday Express disclosure that the Prime Minister's national security adviser, Gary Griffith, is promoting a new covert agency and has even hand-picked a candidate to lead it.
The news of this new proposed covert agency comes as the country is still trying to digest revelations about an unauthorised policing entity, the New Flying Squad, which, the paper trail suggests, was taking shape under the noses and with the possible support of members of the NSC itself.
Now we have Mr Griffith setting up an agency to go after "the big fish, corrupt politicians and any high ranking people we want".
Mr Griffith's objective causes us serious worry, for while he has some credentials as a former captain of the Defence Force, his public profile and role in the Government is openly political and partisan. His statement that the planned agency will go after "any high ranking people we want," contains ominous undertones that have no place in the governing of this country.
In the context of the existing National Intelligence Agency, what is the rationale for the creation of yet another covert agency? How does it fit into the country's security framework and apparatus? Already, we are hearing that it is proposed to be headed by a retired lieutenant of the Defence Force, and though we are told by Mr Griffith that any intelligence unit which is set up must have a legal structure and the blessings of the Commissioner of Police shouldn't this be done before selecting the person to head the unit?
Mr Griffith's claim that this agency was to be entrusted to the director of the National Security Operations Centre, Garvin Heerah, adds to the incredulity of the situation given Mr Heerah's controversial involvement with the New Flying Squad.
As chairperson of the National Security Council, the Prime Minister needs to step forward and clarify the situation regarding the latest intelligence initiative. In the absence of a clear and unambiguous statement, the public is entitled to believe that senior security personnel in her Government are working at cross purposes with each other, with the existing security apparatus, and without the necessary checks and balances.
Recent revelations surrounding the appointment of the junior Reshmi Ramnarine to the position of director of the now defunct Security Intelligence Agency have shown the spurious basis on which major decisions affecting the security of the nation can be made. We cannot allow such an episode to be repeated.
Something seems to be seriously amiss at the highest levels of the management of our national security. The time for putting it right is now.