First they came for the Jews . . . and I didn’t speak out!
Math was never my strongest point. Still I have always known two half-truths do not add up to the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God—despite that some persistently insist on the opposite. Consider the reaction following the officially confirmed announcement that the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown had revoked Richard Frederick’s visitor and diplomatic visas.
To hear the usual contributors to Timothy Poleon’s Newsspin and TTP, the U.S. State Department had finally discovered incontrovertible evidence supportive of what was first bruited about in 2004 by a born-again customs controller named Terrence Leonard and maliciously echoed for election purposes from the steps of the Castries market.
That Frederick had gone on to win impressive victories against a sitting attorney general—with the full backing of a then still relatively popular prime minister who had marked him a possible successor—has never mattered to Frederick’s red-eyed detractors. To this day they continue to repeat, with practiced conviction, the unproven allegations, if now dressed up in clever disguise. And now, serendipitously perhaps, a new dirty bomb has been added to their arsenal.
All of a sudden even the best known local haters of the American Way are to be seen unabashedly genuflecting before Old Glory, in open obeisance to USA!-USA!-USA! They’ve taken to describing the once-despised CIA as the most reliable of covert operators. Why, then, would the universally respected Agency stoop to framing innocent people, least of all a no-account government minister from a no-account speck of dust called the Rock of Sages? And in any case, “why only now?”
A great question, to be sure. And you may rest assured Tim’s callers—ostensible “good boys” and garrulous UFOs—have the only possible answer. And it is that after some 20 years of meticulous investigation by the various super investigative branches of the State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown finally was in a position to prove what Kenny & Company had been saying about Richard Frederick since 2005 was never mere political propaganda—or even an ill-conceived conspiracy of dunces.
Since news broke of the revocation of Frederick’s visas two or three weeks ago, his detractors have inundated the red zones. Like trained parrots, they repeat word for word what the caller before them had said. Or they ask questions as unanswerable as they are venomous.
Often questions and answers spew out of the same slanderous mouths that asked them: “Why only now? Obviously the State Department would not revoke a government minister’s visas on mere Kenny hearsay. Obviously, they have proof of wrong doing.”
Or: “How can Frederick say he doesn’t know the reason for the revocations? Who is he kidding? He and the prime minister are obviously lying. The embassy would never-never-never revoke his visas and not tell him why?” As if the embassy had ever explained why half the number of annual applicants for visas are turned down.
Should Poleon attempt to set a caller right, he will be shouted down: The charge d’affaires said this, the charge d’affaires said that, “the charge d’affaires said holders are always notified in advance of visa revocations. It’s a standard revocation procedure.”
Implicit in the follow-up guffaws is the suitably-salted, unsubstantiated claim that Richard Frederick had indeed been invited to dialogue with embassy officials and had chosen to ignore the opportunity to make things right, “because he knows damn well what he did.”
Of course, Tim’s red-striped callers predictably refuse to acknowledge that, despite being pressed by reporters, the visiting embassy official had refused specifically to comment on the Frederick case. As for the prime minister’s official statement, that he was notified of the revocations after the fact, well, where was the proof of that? Didn’t he say Sir John was recovering and out of danger when in fact the prime minister was comatose? What did it matter if the disseminated information had reached the prime minister second-hand from Sir John’s wife, not from his doctors, who were under strict orders not to comment to the government on Sir John’s condition without the expressed permission of Lady Janice?
In small-island politics, especially on the eve of elections, truth—whether or not immediately verifiable—had always been the least of public concerns!
Why would the State Department go after Richard Frederick, if not because its investigators had uncovered hard evidence supportive of 15-year-old allegations that remain unproved? Yes, why indeed?
Consider the following, juicy tidbits borrowed from the June 2, 2011 issue of The Economist: “In the Caribbean being barred from flying to Miami can spell social shame and political oblivion . . . Almost 5 percent of Jamaica’s population of 2.7 million applies for an American visa each year; around half are successful. An American diplomatic cable from 2005, made public through Wikileaks, admitted that the potential loss of a visa is ‘a source of considerable leverage’ . . . Early last year, when Prime Minister Golding was still stalling on extraditing Christopher Coke, several prominent Jamaicans had their visas revoked. Many others feared they would be next—and blamed their government. American officials realize they have a cheap and useful weapon. ‘There is more to come,’ said an official.”
Throughout the region, there are similar published stories about the use of visas as “a source of considerable leverage.” In none of the reported cases was the victim given the opportunity to “dialogue,” as allegedly required by 9 FAM 41.122. Just two weeks ago, the owner of some 25 supermarkets in Jamaica was on his way with his family to a business engagement in Los Angeles when he was told at the airport that his visa had been revoked and he would not be permitted to board his aircraft.
So much for prior notification and dialogue!
So are Richard Frederick and Stephenson King lying through their teeth? They alone and the U.S. Embassy (and God, of course!) know for sure. But while we are all agreed that the omnipotent good old USA has every right to pull its visas, without notice or later explanation, elastic rules or not, we refuse to give the prime minister and his former housing minister the benefit of the doubt. It’s election time, after all, when the enemy of your enemy becomes your best friend. Besides, didn’t he mislead the public at the time of Sir John’s imminent death. And once a liar, always a liar.
Of course, the particular liars rule applies only to some people all of the time. It certainly does not apply to a certain prime minister who forced an MP to apologize, on the ground that what she claimed the prime minister had said with reference to criminals in his constituency was patently false. When proof of the MPs statement surfaced soon afterward, the by then former prime minister refused to apologize. I could cite several other instances involving the same former prime minister, when he had been especially economical with the truth, but to what avail? Truth is always the first casualty of wars, whether or not politics-related!
Now consider this: Richard Frederick was issued his U.S. visa in 1984. It was renewed periodically, without any trouble whatsoever. Its expiry date was 2012. Does this not suggest that for 27 years the State Department considered him fit to hold a U.S. visa? Now set that up alongside the fact that from 2004 Frederick has been in the spotlight for the worst possible reasons. Why were his visas not inexplicably revoked until now?
He was issued his diplomatic visa in February 2007. By that time the customs-related investigations initiated by Terrence Lenard and Philip LaCorbiniere were well underway. Yet the State Department declared Frederick fit to hold that open-sesame document known as a diplomatic visa. Why in the first place issue him a diplomatic visa on top of his visitor’s visa if, by all the rumor mill suggested, he was suspected of money laundering, drug trafficking and even murder? Obviously, the State Department, having conducted intense intrusive investigations into Frederick’s background, was not prepared to participate in the now exposed Terrence Leonard plot to “discredit Frederick and stop his rise to political power,” aided and abetted by Kenny Anthony’s attorney general’s office, the head of which was a highly touted candidate in the 2006 Castries Central by-election—which Frederick easily won!
I should underscore this obvious truth: the scrupulous State Department would not have issued a visitor’s visa to Frederick if not convinced—the persistent allegations nothwithstanding—Frederick was clean. Certainly the visa would not have been renewed over and over for some 27 years without a hitch.
Conceivably, before issuing a diplomatic visa that would free its carrier from the usual intrusive TSA searches and discombobulating interrogations, the State Department would’ve carried out a thorough check of Frederick’s history. Surely, the allegations leveled at him by the AG LaCorbiniere and the customs boss Terrence Lenard, which involved the DEA, would’ve been picked up by the State Department’s famous radar, from which nothing is hidden for long. If indeed they did show up, then why was Frederick issued a diplomatic passport? Why was his regular visa not immediately revoked based even on suspicion?
Ah, you say, “dem fellers at the State Department work in mysterious ways.” You know, like God. And I agree. But I am not about to speculate about those wondrous ways at Frederick’s expense. Especially when I know, when the whole world now knows, the motivation of the man who started it all was, by his own admission, primarily “to discredit Frederick and block his way to power”—in favor of Philip LaCorbiniere and the return of Kenny Anthony’s government.
We still don’t know why Frederick’s visas were canceled on the eve of elections, though. Do we? We can only speculate, as indeed the State Department pointedly expects us to, while also blaming our government. But thanks to the prestigious Economist, we do know the Americans consider their visa “a source of considerable leverage” and have put it to work in various countries that tried to play hardball with U.S. policy.
So again, I echo the popular loaded question: Why only now? Why did the State Department revoke Frederick’s visas, when for 27 years evidently it had paid no obvious attention to the swirling allegations by some of the most powerful in the nation? Nagging questions that, even by the less prejudiced, are predictably answered thus: “Obviously, something new came up on the department’s radar screen.” Ah, but what? Does it have to be related to the 20-something-year-old unproven allegations? Or could it also be related to something else that the Americans want badly?
But let us still hang in there with the allegations against Frederick? If indeed his visas were revoked for reasons related to an alleged connection with major-league overseas drug cartels, if indeed murder is in the air, then that would make Frederick a major security risk—as much to the U.S. as to Saint Lucia. So why not cancel his diplomatic visa and leave him free to travel with his regular visa? That would certainly leave him naked and unprotected—and arrestable, the moment he stepped on U.S. soil. Now, wouldn’t it?
As for the risks to Saint Lucia, why would the State Department withhold from our prime minister, vital information relating to our nation’s security? Something that the U.S. is especially concerned with, at any rate, so they say. Remember when the CIA convinced Sir John that a Muamar Gadaffi-George Odlum coup was imminent?
The pre-emptive actions taken by Compton destroyed the lives of the David England family, if not the Odlums’, and landed Saint Lucia with the infamous David England law that the nation was promised would be repealed by a Labour government—yet to this day remains, like the equally draconian Public Order Act, a serpent coiled and ready to strike the unsuspecting without even a hearing.
Yes, yes, so why did the State Department target Frederick? Might the answer be related to the upcoming elections? Might it have something to do with matters not yet Wikileaked? Has the State Department suddenly decided, for its own reasons, to feed the plot to “discredit Frederick and block his way to power?”
When it comes to Richard Frederick, might there be a common thread that links together not-so-strange-bedfellows Kenny Anthony and his crew, Ausbert d’Auvergne, Janice and Jeannine Compton, Terrence Lenard, Philip LaCorbiniere and some members of the current administration? Is there something already Wikileaked to suggest the Americans, for their own purposes, want to see the backs of both the “self-congratulating and pontificating” Kenny Anthony and the “weak-kneed” Stephenson King?
Is the State Department taking uncommon interest in the upcoming elections?
For sure, something triggered the revocation of “soft target” Richard Frederick’s visas. What’s more, the King government knows what that something is. And even though the State Department has not actually spelt it out, because it dare not, officials from the U.S. Embassy have certainly dropped the hint more than once in the government’s lap. It remains to be seen how much longer King can hold out—and whether it will take more visa revocations, including visas held by prominent local business people, before the government caves in and delivers to Caesar.
To quote the embassy official quoted in the Economist article of June 2, 2011: “There is more to come!”
Yes, wait for it!