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PM finally concedes something went wrong
The Prime Minister has finally conceded that something went terribly wrong with the SSA appointment and any upcoming moves on the issue must ensure stringent background checks on the future head of security agencies, says the Opposition PNM. PNM MP Colm Imbert made the comment yesterday after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar told reporters on Monday night that an interim SSA director would be appointed. This follows Reshmi Ramnarine’s short- lived appointment to the post, subsequent resignation and ensuring furore over credentials for which some government officials have apologised.
Most recently, it was revealed that the SSA failed to conduct the requisite high-level security clearance vetting of Ramnarine. Persad-Bissessar indicated on Monday that the Government wanted to have a longer period of time in which to ensure it obtained the best person for the job. She said a statement would be made in Parliament on Friday. The PM is also quoted as saying that the Government wanted to ensure that the “mishap that was made does not ever happen again.”
Persad-Bissessar’s comments on Monday followed calls by political analysts, politicians and attorneys for her to make full disclosure on the Ramnarine issue herself, since she heads the National Security Council through which the recommendation passed and since she heads the Cabinet which approved it. Yesterday, government sources said Persad-Bissessar might be making Friday’s statement in Parliament herself.
Imbert said: “At least (on Monday) the Prime Minister has finally conceded that something went terribly wrong and the necessary due diligence for such a sensitive position was not done. “Any future moves they make to establish criteria should have the necessary background checks, reference and character certification scrutiny as well as credit and security checks—plus checks into the association and affiliates of the person,” the PNM MP said.
“And by that I don’t mean just their political association/affiliation...I mean all groups that might pose a danger to T&T. “All of this is a routine procedure in appointing someone to head an intelligence agency. “At least from that we’ll have a degree of comfort that procedures are in place and if implemented would result in a competent, trustworthy and professional appointee.” Imbert said the Government might not need constitutional changes to effect the necessary measures. Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar went to the Express to accept that paper’s Individual of the Year award (2010).
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