Thursday, September 23, 2010


The summary firing of Brigadier Joseph, the (until recently) head of the Strategic Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad & Tobago, known to all and sundry by its acronym SAUTT, has drawn criticism in some quarters. The editorial in one daily newspaper this week complained that this firing as well as the rather curt and summary dismissal of the former Commissioner of Police James Philbert was not right and that these men should not have been put out to pasture the way that they were.

It is difficult to comment on the Philbert sacking without knowing all of the facts. My personal bet is that there must have been something that happened to have caused the abrupt dismissal, and that something is probably of a national security nature. That is the only explanation that makes sense. But I will readily admit to the possibilty that there is another (nonsensical?) reason.

But Brigadier Joseph is clearly a horse of a very different colour. Frankly, I am surprised that he wasn't dealt with before. Let me explain: First of all, SAUTT has spent millions of dollars with no discernible results. We have the infamous "eye in the sky", also known as the blimp which has cost "a pound and a crown" but which has not made a dent in the crime situation. Indeed, over the years that Peter Joseph presided over SAUTT the crime situation got steadily worse. So, from a value for money point of view, what did we get?

Then there is the question of the wiretapping of telephones. Almost everybody who was opposed to the Manning regime believed that his or her phones were tapped at some time or the other. I can't prove it, but I too believe that my phones were tapped from time to time. Indeed, right at the beginning when ANR Robinson had (wrongly) installed Manning as Prime Minister I set up with a friend of mine a little "sting" to see if my phones were being tapped. At that time Manning and Panday were meeting to discuss a possible way out of the 18/18 impasse and were supposed to meet at the Hilton to discuss same. I called my friend (by pre-arrangement) the day before the meeting was supposed to take place and told him that we had a "bomb" to drop at the meeting. I said that we had been meeting secretly with Keith Rowley and that we were going to go to the Hilton meeting and demand that Manning step down and that Rowley be made the Prime Minister. If he refused we were going to go to the President and tell him that Rowley had our support. I said that we had done a deal with Rowley for the Cabinet posts. None of this, of course, was true. And, this was a private conversation between two UNC activists - me and one other.

Well, what happened next was most interesting. Manning cancelled the meeting and the talks broke down. Coincidence? Or was my phone tapped and the conversation reported to Manning? Because make no bones about it, if what I had said was true (and I repeat, it was a complete fiction) then Manning was in serious danger of losing his Premiership and it was definitely not in his interest to have that Hilton meeting.

Now, does this little story prove that there was wiretapping? No. But it certainly does suggest it, doesn't it?

Put another way, speaking personally, my personal opinion is that there was wiretapping of political opponents by SAUTT and there would have to be really conclusive evidence to prove to me that there wasn't. I believe that Kamla's phone was tapped. Can I prove it? No. Do I know that for a fact? No. But you know the old saying about if it walks like a duck ...?

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Montano your test results does indicate the possibility of wiretapping but that was in 2001 and SAUTT was formed in late 2003. I would suspect that if SAUTT does possess the capability it would have been some years later, possibly from around 2006. My question to you, john public and the government is, which government unit was conducting wiretapping at that time? A follow up question would be, was the unit formed by the UNC who was the outgoing government or the PNM who was the incoming government?