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PM wanted SIA 'spies' out
A senior policeman wrote to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar in mid-October 2010, recommending that an interim management team, headed by Reshmi Ramnarine, should be appointed at the now-defunct Security Intelligence Agency (SIA), Opposition Leader Keith Rowley has claimed.
“So now we know the answer to how Reshmi Ramnarine was selected and appointed, on the recommendation to a new Prime Minister by a rogue police officer,” Rowley alleged on Tuesday night at a PNM meeting in St Augustine. The Reshmi Ramnarine issue was one of the earliest furores to hit the new PP administration in January 2011 after Ramnarine was appointed SIA director. Amid criticism of the Government over her appointment and lack of qualifications, Ramnarine resigned days after the issue became public.
On Tuesday night, Rowley read from the police officer’s letter to the Prime Minister on the SIA. Rowley’s office yesterday supplied a full copy of the letter from the Special Branch officer, which was headed “secret.” The Opposition office also released a report, marked as being from the senior superintendent to then Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs, dated October 2010, which said the phones of the Prime Minister and members of her Government were tapped between 2008 and 2009.
Rowley said the officer’s letter to the PM on the SIA issue made it clear the officer had been contacted by the Prime Minister. Noting the PM heads the National Security Council (NSC), Rowley said the Prime Minister went to the police officer and “asked him what to do.” Rowley said “superintendent so-and-so ”was reporting directly to the PM, unknown to the police commissioner and NSC, and covered himself when he said in his letter that the Prime Minister had called him.
He quoted from the letter: “At 12.15 pm on October 11, 2010, I was contacted by the honourable Prime Minister ...” Rowley said the officer “slandered everyone who he wanted to get out of the way of the security system” in the letter by naming some SIA staff as “supporters of the PNM and extremely loyal to Mr So-and-So...” He said the police officer’s letter identified six telephone intercept officers and read out: “Susan J, Anna M, Conard B, Christopher F, Ann C, Arlene V...”
He said the letter went on to say that 25 other people whose names followed were “very loyal to Mr So-and-So.” Rowley noted that when the PM was leaving for Jamaica in 2010, she said she was firing SAUTT officials. He claimed that was also linked to the police officer’s letter, which told her who was PNM in the unit and that some staff still maintained close links with the PNM.
He said the officer’s letter then made recommendations, which he read: “The situation at the SIA warrants immediate attention. If sensitive information from that unit is allowed to be clandestinely sent to leading members of the PNM, it would undermine the legitimate constituted Government of T&T and ultimately lead to its downfall.” Rowley said the police officer was reporting to the Prime Minister, knew who “was PNM” in the unit and recommended they be removed and the PM fired all of them.
He said the officer recommended that the SIA director, as well as others mentioned in his report, should be relieved of their posts immediately and the Prime Minister also complied. He read out the officer’s recommendation B in his letter that “an interim management committee, headed by SIA’s Reshmi Ramnarine (Technical Operator)”, should be appointed immediately.
The copy of the letter, issued by the Opposition office yesterday, said an interim management committee, headed by Ramnarine and several other named officers, “should be appointed immediately to protect the assets of the State until Mrs Julie Brown completes her assignment” with one Dr Gibran. Rowley said the letter went on to make similar recommendations, including steps to merge the SIA, SSA and SAUTT with other agencies into a new intelligence agency headed by one “Mr Ganpat.”
He said: “That brings us to the point of the Flying Squad. This is where the idea of a National Security Operations Centre came from.” Security sources said yesterday that the officer Rowley spoke of is a senior Special Branch member who was on leave.
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