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WIKILEAKS SECRETS! BUSTED

Published:Sunday | May 22, 2011 | 5:00 AM
Golding
The Darling Street Police Station, on the outskirts of Tivoli Gardens, is just a shell after it was firebombed by gunmen from the west Kingston community last year. - File
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EDITOR'S NOTE

After intense discussion, The Gleaner took a decision to partner with independent non-profit media organisation WikiLeaks to provide Jamaicans with information out of dozens of secret cables from the United States Embassy in Kingston.

The diplomatic cables touch on various issues of Jamaican life and reflect the views and opinions of US Embassy officials based on conversations, documents and formal briefings.

The documents on Jamaica are part of 251,287 embassy cables leaked in 2010 which WikiLeaks acquired and which are being published around the world.

The cables on Jamaica will be published in The Gleaner starting today and will continue daily over the next several weeks.

We took the decision to publish stories from these documents because we feel Jamaicans have a right to this kind of information. We agree with WikiLeaks that a healthy, vibrant and inquisitive media play a vital role in making any country a better place to live and work.

We welcome your feedback. Send them to editor@gleanerjm.com. - Editor-in-Chief


The United States Embassy in Kingston labelled the Golding administration as two-faced and suggested that the prime minister was less than honest on at least two occasions when he first responded to questions in Parliament about the extradition request for Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

A secret diplomatic cable from the embassy claimed that hours after Prime Minister Golding's December 8, 2009 fiery responses in Parliament about the extradition request for the alleged strongman, a high-ranking Cabinet member was on the phone apologising for the comments.

The embassy is also claiming that Golding overstated the case when he told Parliament that Washington and Kingston had agreed not to publicly discuss the issue and that his memory was faulty when he told the House about when he was first briefed on the matter.

In a confidential cable dated December 10, 2009, the embassy in Kingston told Washington that the Cabinet minister told US Chargé d'Affaires (CDA) Isiah Parnell that Golding had been put in an uncomfortable position by Opposition Spokesman on National Security Dr Peter Phillips.

"Despite the PM's statements and the headlines to the contrary, the (Cabinet minister) assured CDA that Golding had been misquoted and that it was not the position of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) that the United States Government (USG) had violated the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) or the extradition treaty," the cable stated.

"Interestingly, although the Office of the Prime Minister issued a press release on the morning after the debate highlighting the PM's comments on the delay in naming a new US ambassador, there was no press release correcting or reinterpreting the PM's comments suggesting the USG was responsible for the extradition delay," added the cable which The Gleaner has received through WikiLeaks .

While quoting extensively from the heated debate in Parliament, the US Embassy argued that: "The imbroglio illustrates both the GOJ's paralysis over the issue as the Golding administration flails for new legal points on which to delay a decision, as well as the PNP's (People's National Party) determination to use the issue as a means of attacking the JLP's (Jamaica Labour Party) moral authority to govern."

No political tool

But it was clear that the US was unwilling to allow the extradition request for the alleged Tivoli Gardens strongman to be used as a political tool even as it maintained that the Golding administration was stalling and speaking from both sides of its mouth.

"The GOJ appears to be trying to have it both ways - publicly blaming the USG for the delays, while privately assuring CDA that this is not the position of the Golding administration," the cable said.

"However, in publicly accusing the US of violating Jamaican law while blaming his refusal to provide specifics on a nonexistent agreement with the USG, Golding can have the best of both worlds - casting off responsibility for the delay while remaining confident that the USG will not contradict his version of events."

The cable also questioned the prime minister's claim about when he was first briefed on the extradition request.

According to the embassy, Golding told the House that he first received information on the extradition request the day before the USG submitted it to the GOJ on August 25, 2009.

"Post (Embassy in Kingston) disputes the PM's recollection, noting that former Ambassador (Brenda LaGrange) Johnson briefed the PM on the case in January 2009."

The embassy further claimed that it was told by former National Security Minister Dr. Peter Phillips that as the outgoing minister of national security, he briefed the PM on the case shortly after the September 2007 elections that brought the JLP to power

Turning to Golding's claim in Parliament that the two governments had agreed to restrict the public comments on the matter, the embassy said that was not quite true.

"Soon after the extradition request had been submitted, an envoy from the PM's office had requested that the USG refrain from publicly pressuring the GOJ over the politically sensitive issue," the embassy said.

It argued that even though it had generally refused to comment on the matter publicly, there had been no such explicit agreement or understanding reached with the Government of Jamaica.