Wed | Oct 28, 2020

Daniel Thwaites | As I was saying last time

Published:Saturday | December 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM

I have secretly always wanted to begin a newspaper column as follows:

"As I was saying last time ... ." Starting at full gallop like that, utterly careless about whether the reader was following along, I would then launch off into fresh histrionics about a favourite pet peeve like public littering or people with poor etiquette.

Now that would be a rant of which one could be deservedly proud. Sadly, I've never really had the opportunity to quite get a rant like that going. But this could be my lucky week. Let's see.

I say this because, in the spirit of Christmas overindulgence, I'm going to break some of my own rules today. Know what I mean? It's just like you will have an extra piece of pudding, or that one little additional drink.

The Gleaner published a letter from David Williams titled 'Thwaites' commentary mean-spirited'. One stop deh, driver! When we're talking about the slaughter of nearly 70 people, "mean-spirited" doesn't quite capture how unpleasant I would like to be. But whatever! This was my favourite part:

"The honourable prime minister, in attempting to right a wrong, has offered an apology. The rambling of Mr Thwaites has sought to dishonour this attempt in a manner that is most distasteful and dishonest. In fact, from the issues mentioned above, Daniel Thwaites needs to apologise to the Jamaican public for his rants."

That is precious - "apologise to the Jamaican public for his rants"! So here we have, at one and the same time, in one and the same "mind", and expressed in one and the same letter to the editor, serene satisfaction with the PM's vague expression of regret for participation in the disastrous decision-making that traumatised the nation and led scores of people to the grave, but a demand for serious apology and reparation for newspaper "rants". Makes perfect sense! Yeah, that's completely normal. That's a balanced and rational perspective.


Mutual abuse


So the first rule I'm breaking is to respond to rubbish. My rule, strictly observed, is that it's a waste of time to respond to any correspondence that doesn't satisfy the basic tenets of logic or good sense. Such exchanges quickly deteriorate into simple mutual abuse, which although it has its place, is of limited utility.

Of course, Williams was responding to my expressions of disgust with the prime minister's supposed "apology" for something (it's still not clear what) having to do with the extended Dudus affair of 2009 and 2010. He was anxious to point out that there is a garrison problem in the country, and that it is a bipartisan problem. Yawn!

OK, so how exactly does that exculpate or excuse anyone who was involved in the disastrous decision-making surrounding the whole Dudus matter? How is that remotely relevant to whether or not the warrant for Dudus' extradition should have been served on him immediately, or actively resisted by the Government?

As I was saying last time, this level of mental evasion is staggering. I thought it was the other side who were supposed to be the socialists, but here we have an attempt to socialise the bloodguilt of the May 2010 Cabinet.

We all know that Jamaican society has a pretty elevated capacity for brutality. Only the occasional genius can miss that fact.

However, it's not so often that we all get the front row seats to see exactly how the terror unfolds. But that's what happened in May 2010. The dodgy and crafty manipulation of high ideals ('human rights', 'sovereignty') processed carefully through political doublespeak and triplespeak led, inexorably, to the eventual conflagration.

The piece missing, I think, is how often the Government of the day was warned that it was taking the country down a path that would lead to tragedy. The Gleaner penned forceful editorials, and countless critics voiced objection at each step of the way. The jeremiads weren't just ignored; critics were pilloried!




So it's time to break another rule by quoting myself. Because as I was saying last time:

"They got a warrant, tipped off the (victim?) Dudus, fabricated legal tomfoolery to frustrate honest law enforcement, politicised and debased routine law-enforcement tools, hired lobbyists to surreptitiously corrupt the American government, prostituted the attorney general's office in Jamaica, fouled the solicitor general's chambers, donned and shed 'skins' as convenience dictated, alienated allies, besmirched the country's reputation, triggered dozens and dozens of deaths, cost the country billions, then couldn't recall anything after it was all done."

Remember, there has been zero accountability for what went on. Some point to the resignation of then Prime Minister Bruce Golding as a political reckoning that flowed from the debacle. But is that right? And is it enough?

No legal culpability when civilians were mowed down like worthless animals? No follow-up investigation into how the arrival of the warrant was leaked? No word on who paid for the lobbying efforts in the USA? Nothing further on the nearly 70 souls crushed into the earth? Nuff people jus' dead, and a soh it goh! Jamaica no problem mon?

We need something like a Day of Atonement on this one, a Jamaican Yom Kippur. In the meanwhile, no breezy self-serving 'apology' will remove the Himalayan s***-stain on the national conscience.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to