EVEN if one were to give the benefit of the doubt to National Security Minister Stuart Young regarding his allegation about a criminal conspiracy to destabilise the country, his judgment would have to be seriously challenged.
That charge is so damning that no national security official who is committed to the protection of the country and its people could be so casual about dropping political words in the midst of a crime wave. Assuming the theory is credible, one would expect that the intelligence agencies are monitoring and keeping tabs on the conspirators with a view to pre-empting their actions and bringing them before the heavy hand of the law.
It is not as if T&T is not equipped with the laws to deal with criminals bent on creating strife and mischief, whatever their political stripes. By his own admission, however, what Minister Young was peddling last Thursday was a conspiracy theory from which he was working backwards to find evidence. Ordinarily, nothing is wrong with investigation by deduction. This is standard procedure in cases where, in the absence of evidence, investigators must consider everyone with a possible motive and take it from there. In playing detective, Minister Young’s exercise in speculation led him to focus on only one possible and very convenient suspect.
Given his previous statements about sitting MPs meeting with criminal elements it required no genius reasoning to deduce the direction in which his theory was pointing. He planted just enough seeds to send political loyalists at each other’s throats with accusations and counter-accusations. For the non-partisan public, however, Minister Young’s insinuations lacked heft. By what process, for example, did he rule out other plausible options such as gangs joyriding with guns blasting, or gangs sending initiates to commit random acts of violence or using gun terror to intimidate communities, all well-known acts of the gang culture.
This is not to defend the Opposition or any other politicians, given the record of all, including Minister Young’s party and senior officials within it with suspected links to gang leaders. Political consorting with criminals is an established feature of the national landscape and is possibly the single most important contribution to the empowerment of gangs to the point where they now strangle the country. Neither the governing party nor the opposition party has the moral authority to come to the country professing clean hands while self-righteously pointing fingers at the other.
The point here is that instead of offering political conspiracies for the crime wave sweeping the country, Minister Young should allow the police to do their work. Frankly, we are deeply concerned by the extent to which he is allowed to involve himself in police work, having access to investigations in progress and publicising incomplete investigative findings. Such leveraging of police investigations for political ends poses the very serious risk of infecting the work of the TTPS and corrupting its processes.
By his own actions, Minister Young has been demonstrating his lack of respect and, possibly, understanding of the boundaries between the police and the political directorate.
Someone, preferably the Commissioner of Police, should remind him.