President Jagdeo has proclaimed that he had “confidential information” indicating that retired army major David Clarke was not serving the army’s best interests. Mr Jagdeo stated that he did not want to make the information public. This is the same Major David Clarke who when he was a Captain, initially led army operations in Buxton during the crime wave. Let me see if I am getting this right: the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Guyana had information indicating that the very officer leading operations in an area that was the centrepiece of a crime upsurge was not serving the army’s best interests and he did not want to make the information public? The crime wave ushered in one of the most savage and bloody periods of fear and trepidation in Guyana’s history. The people of Guyana enveloped in fear in those times had a right to full disclosure about the shortcomings of their security forces. Even if the President did not want to publicly proclaim the information he should have pressured the army to remedy the situation expeditiously.
An army officer acting in contravention of the army’s interest poses a serious danger to the army and to the public. The seriousness of that danger increases when that officer is leading military operations of critical importance to a nation’s security. Given Mr Jagdeo’s statement about vindication, it appears that the army brass and the Commander-in-Chief had a difference of opinion regarding Clarke. The President does not clarify on what basis he was vindicated or what information was provided to him and whether in turn this was communicated to the army and guarantees his vindication. It begs the question why he did not at a minimum order the army to remove Clarke from his critical post and reassign him.
The basic requirement was for President Jagdeo to err on the side of caution in favour of the nation’s security. The fact that David Clarke was never removed provokes questions about the Commander-in-Chief’s handling of this matter. The Commander-in-Chief is expected to act in the nation’s interest even if it means overriding the army.
The President indicated that he was vindicated about Clarke but has not revealed the source of his information or the nature of the information he received. The only information suggestive of Clarke’s allegedly harmful conduct publicly produced to date are the cocaine trafficking charges against Clarke, and Roger Khan’s alleged claim that Clarke was acting in concert with Shawn Brown. As such, the information available to the public points to an alleged alliance with a known criminal or alleged cocaine trafficking. If either or both of these alleged activities were the basis for the Commander-in-Chief’s legitimate concerns at the time Clarke headed the Buxton operations, the Commander-in-Chief should have shown the fearlessness to act forcefully to remove him from his position and place him under investigation.
Maybe it is time for the Commander-in-Chief to reveal the actual information and his source to the public. After all, the information is several years old and may have been disclosed in relation to a high-profile case in the USA. The same information that is now being publicly brandished as being always sufficient to establish conduct contrary to the army’s interests was not deemed actionable information then upon which the Commander-in-Chief was confident enough to remove, reassign or prosecute Clarke. In the court of public opinion, it would seem that the right thing to do now is for the President to reveal the nature of the information and the source of the information.