‘Leaks’, the Leveller
The elevation of Donald Trump to become President of the United Stated States of American has triggered a very eventful period in the history of that country. The most recent Trump event has seen the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn because he reportedly lied to colleagues – namely Vice President Pence – about conversations with the Russian Ambassador during the election campaign last year. Of interest to BU is the impact ‘leaks’ have had on forcing Flynn’s resignation.
Last year ‘leaked’ Cahill Energy documents by BU played a small part preventing a poorly conceived project from being implemented. BU recalls the reaction of Senators McClean and Depieza to the BU exposé during a debate in the Senate –they referred to the BU household as having committed treason! Remember when the Deloitte CLICO Forensic report was leaked the response by the Prime Minister Stuart?
Whether in the USA or Barbados politicians react the same way to ‘leaks’. Trump frequently referred to Wikileaks in a favourable light during his campaign to become president. In Barbados the leaked Cahill documents were referred to on the floor of parliament by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party. However, now that Trump has to perform in the role of president he has expressed concern about the Intelligence Agencies and ‘leaks’. In Barbados if the BLP Opposition were to be elected to government tomorrow there is no doubt there would be Trump and Stuart like reaction to ‘leaks’.
The explosion of the Fifth Estate has seen a deluge of fake news and alternative facts in the public newsfeed. The upside however is the opportunity for players sworn to secrecy to leak classified and sensitive information deemed to be in the public interest. There is the adage which says nature abhors a vacuum. With failing governance systems across the globe, including Barbados, and the always on challenge to hold public officials accountable the Fifth Estate has assumed a legitimate role by facilitating ‘leaks’ to be the great leveler.
The critical observation about ‘leaks’ is the struggle by various players to balance the right to maintain secrecy as it relates to national security for example and for the citizenry to know -popularly labelled as transparency under a democratic system of government we practice.
Some of us have been subjected to whispers about surveillance equipment operated to support CWC 2007 operations now being used by the Barbados police force in day to day operations. If true, to what extent does the use of such equipment violate the civil liberties of Barbadians recognizing that the government has the job of managing national security? As far as BU is aware there is no legislation to support use of such equipment anyway.
The political shenanigans and obvious breaking of the Barbados financial rules by government ministers and other officials when the Cahill Energy deal was being constructed –IF the information was not leaked one can only speculate the possible outcomes. How are citizens expected to hold public officials accountable within the existing flawed governance system? It is obvious after many years of trying by the Auditor General’s Office civic minded players will feel pressured to leak (share) classified and sensitive information with the public.
As we have been observing in the USA lately, when in Opposition ‘leaks’ are welcomed, however, when the role flips it is about initiating investigations to identify the source of the leaks and bring the offenders to justice. It is evident there is growing disaffection by Barbadians with the current governance cum political system and the BU household anticipates we will witness more ‘leaks’ in the future. Especially as the silly season approaches.