Clear SSA cloud

Lance Selman -
Lance Selman -

RECENT statements by Lance Selman, 84, the founding director of the Strategic Services Agency (SSA), add tremendous weight to calls being made for the Government to expeditiously complete the ongoing audit of that organisation, reveal in full its findings, prosecute or sanction any wrongdoers and restore the country’s central intelligence agency to confidence. Failure to do so will only endanger the population.

Speaking with Newsday editor Darren Bahaw, Mr Selman, a retired deputy commissioner of police, would not comment directly on current developments. However, he made explicit the international dimension of intelligence-gathering and referred to the frightening situation when states are walled off from information-sharing.

“Crime and security issues are increasingly dependent on collaboration and sharing between states,” Mr Selman said. “Those with weak and vulnerable architecture simply endanger the loop and will be excluded from that loop.”

The SSA was originally established by Act No 24 of 1995 amid a rising drug trade. Mr Selman was tasked with designing and operationalising the new entity, operating with its own culture within a new international paradigm.

But asked whether agencies in the country today are working together at an optimum and what advice he had for policymakers, Mr Selman noted the SSA’s powers have been widened.

“Given the significantly expanded remit of the SSA, in 2016, and its increased role in national security maintenance, matters relating to the SSA and indeed, as well, the TTPS should be earmarked for early settlement,” he diplomatically advised.

“Delay is unsettling to personnel as well as to public confidence in the national security construct. The unfolding situation suggests a lack of confidence in our ability to resolve certain challenges and a lingering dependence on external assistance.”

The Prime Minister having last week laid bare alarming findings in relation to an ongoing SSA probe, the Government must pay heed to these remarks.

In the days since Dr Rowley’s bombshell statement to Parliament, in which he pointed to unsanctioned restructuring and cult activity tantamount to a coup, officials have variously denied involvement, called for evidence, queried the lack of charges, asked why a full report has not been disclosed, quoted scripture and alleged a political Nancy story.

What is clear is the PM’s statement, in which he painted a sinister picture of intelligence officials acting in treasonous ways, has the capacity to raise doubts in the minds of allies about security arrangements here. That alone poses a direct risk to citizens, to whom Dr Rowley now owes more given the frightening nature of his statement.

Four months have passed since retired brigadier general Anthony Phillips-Spencer was asked to probe. We say that has been enough time for far more revealing, credible and decisive action.

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