There is nothing democratically beautiful about removing independent voices

first_imgDear Editor,In a recent interview with Guyana Times (March 26, 2017), the Alliance For Change (AFC) General Secretary, Marlon Williams, boasts about Guyana being a “beautiful” democracy. But there is nothing democratically beautiful about removing independent voices from the State-owned newspaper. And Williams cannot not know of the direct and indirect role AFC leaders played in removing me and Lincoln Lewis from the Chronicle.We are now reliably informed that a senior AFC Minister has over time been raising at Cabinet the issue of Hinds and Lewis’ columns. It was that same Minister who gave the instructions to the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) to axe the columnists. To add insult to injury, two top AFC members, Sherod Duncan and Geeta Chandan-Edmond voted at the Board level to rubber stamp the decision, citing the legal right of the Editor-in-Chief to make the decision. Whether Duncan and Chandan-Edmond knew they were rubberstamping a political decision is not known, but it would take a lot of convincing to assure me that they did not know. I hereby challenge the AFC to deny this version of events.The Chronicle and the rest of the State media are controlled by the AFC as part of the distribution of spoils after the election. The Prime Minister has direct oversight of this sector. He is a journalist by profession, but we have not heard a single word from him on this matter. The AFC, as a party, has not said a single word. The AFC has from time to time hinted that it is being shortchanged by the A Partnership for National Unity within the Government. It is hypocritical to complain of being bullied when you engage in similar behaviour in areas where you exercise authority. This was the same party that famously warned me that I should be thankful to it for the freedom it allowed me and one of its leaders– Freddie Kissoon – accused me of wanting to return the PPP to power.Days before receiving the letter from the Editor-in Chief, I had been tipped off that the column would be discontinued and who were behind the move. I learnt that the EIC was tortured by the situation, but he had no choice in the matter. Armed with that information, I wrote to him asking for an explanation regarding the non-publication of the column for two consecutive weeks. It was then that he sent the letter informing me of the decision. We now know that he did so without the knowledge of the Board.What should be known is that in addition to my column, I have written scores of editorials for the newspaper; most of them complimentary to the Government. That they dispensed with the column while wanting to retain my services as an editorial writer speaks volumes about the mindset – they cannot stand my criticisms but are comfortable with my writings that sanitise them.I always knew that my independent stances were causing concern among Government Ministers – some of them have told me directly. I often wondered why they are so uneasy about self-critique. What is it about us that we cannot deal sensibly with dissent. Despite, the uneasiness, I remained at the Chronicle as a matter of principle. I took the position that they must shove me out and prove to Guyana who they really are. And true to the tradition of Guyanese leadership culture, they have done just that. What a shame!The People’s National Congress section is being blamed for what was executed by the AFC. But the public utterings of the party’s General Secretary suggest that they have no problem with the action – a case of the AFC doing the dirty job for them. One must ask if a Government is prepared to encourage that kind of behaviour towards a coalition member, how would they behave towards presumed enemies? There is something very ugly about government leaders stifling free expression and still preach about the beauty of democracy.For me, my lifelong struggle for a better Guyana continues. My voice will not be silenced. I will continue to speak back to power and the powerful and challenge them to do better. I am determined that this Government must break the cycle of authoritarian governance. In this regard, I am inspired by the words of our national poetic voice and conscience, Martin Carter:No I will not still my voice/I have too much to claim …And soif you see melooking at your handslistening when you speakmarching in your ranksyou must knowI do not sleep to dream,but dream to change the world.Sincerely,David Hindslast_img read more

FBI national security abuse issue has politicians steamed

first_imgWASHINGTON – House Republicans joined Democrats on Tuesday in warning the FBI that it could lose the power to demand that companies turn over customers’ telephone, e-mail and financial records if it did not swiftly correct abuses in the use of national security letters, the investigative tool that allows the bureau to make such demands without a judge’s approval. The warnings came at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee into a recent report by the Justice Department’s inspector-general, Glenn A. Fine. The report found that the FBI had repeatedly violated the rules governing the letters, sometimes by invoking emergency procedures to exercise them when there was no emergency, and had bungled record-keeping so badly that the number of letters exercised was often understated when the bureau reported on them to Congress. “I just want to convey to you how upset many of us are who have defended this program and have believed it is necessary to the protection of our country,” Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., told Valerie E. Caproni, the bureau’s general counsel. If the handling of national security letters is not improved soon, added Lungren, a former California attorney general, the bureau will not “have to worry about improving your procedures for NSLs because you probably won’t have NSL authority.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said he was “shocked” by the bureau’s transgressions and suggested that they might have broken the law. “If what was done was done by a private-sector individual, wouldn’t the FBI be arresting them?” Issa asked. “Wouldn’t the U.S. attorneys be prosecuting people who played fast and loose with these rules?” Fine replied that the question of whether laws were broken “depends on the intent involved and what happened.” He said that while his investigation had found sweeping problems resulting from “mistakes, carelessness, confusion, sloppiness, lack of training, lack of adequate guidance and lack of adequate oversight,” it had not found proof of deliberate wrongdoing. Caproni did not take issue with the findings. “I can tell you that we’ve had a lot of soul-searching at the FBI” since the inspector-general placed “an F on our report card,” she said. Caproni said officials of the bureau believed that the problems might result in part from the secrecy that cloaks the use of national security letters, which are exercised most often in counterterrorism investigations.last_img read more