Gitmo Transfer Controversy: The Opposition & President Mahama 2

Sat, 30 Jan 2016 Source: Kwarteng, Francis


We have argued elsewhere that our popular culture should encourage politicians to desist from using negative political rhetoric and political communication in electioneering campaigns, parliamentary deliberations, and debates. Sometimes, because of our short memory as a people we quickly forget that negative or politically incorrect rhetoric can and has, indeed, turned erstwhile somewhat viable polities into ashes of underdevelopment and anarchy, a special case study being Rwanda. What we sometimes also forget is that politically incorrect communication has some links to national security.

This may explain why overly politicizing the transfer of the two alleged Gitmo terrorists to Ghana does not bode well for our national security. And, it is not as though potential terrorists connected to the two alleged terrorists will come down to Ghana someday, if they so desire, to haunt down and kill only members of the political class on the grounds that our country has collaborated with America in harboring two of their foot soldiers.

The point is that terrorists will kill human beings and animals to send a clear message to their avowed enemies. In our own backyard the National Liberation Movement (NLM) did the same. Thus, we need not look too far for precedents.


National security is a shared responsibility. Unfortunately this appears not to be the case in Ghana. Our presidential political theologians, parliamentarians, and partisan hacks in the duopolistic Communications Directorates are addicted to lying. The masses themselves love and appreciate the political lies churned out daily, because they see the latter as a normative fixture of their sartorial elegance in accordance with Ghana’s popular culture. Telling the truth to the masses offers a rare opportunity for the political class to come clean on a spate of crippling controversies, but this policy direction is a rare commodity in Ghana’s duopolistic culture. The political class will rather give the masses a Pandora’s Box of a diarrheic concoction of overlapping and interlocking truths and lies.

In the first place the transfer of the two Gitmo detainees to Ghana should have been given prior attention in the public domain before official endorsement was even considered. But that was not the case. Popular consensus or consent (public opinion) was instead banished to the exclusive lavatory of political and moral inutility. It does not require any specialized knowledge of rocket science to figure out that the executive presidency kept citizens in the dark for fear of popular backlash and angst. The executive presidency knew in advance that public opinion would certainly have kicked against the idea. Thus, the political class avoids inconvenient truths as best it could. Our presidential political theologians’ addiction to Orwellian doublespeak forces the masses into a tight doublethink Pandora’s Box. Or the masses from whom the presidential political theologians arise are a Pandora’s Box themselves?

And it is not as if the executive presidency can go on forever to justify its actions on the grounds of having had privileged access to high-profile intelligence. It is important we stress again that national security is a shared responsibility. After all, the intelligence and security communities in Ghana need the proactive cooperation of patriotic citizens for strategies of effective operational focus in the prevention of potential threats to political stability, or of acts of terrorism. It makes some sense when one begins to think of the fact that politicians and their families have security around the clock and so may not have considered the security concerns of the ordinary citizen when they embarked on this controversial arrangement with the United States. This is merely a working hypothesis.

However, our leaders may have overlooked an essential fact in their dealings with the West. And that is with all its intelligence-gathering prowess, technological sophistication and capabilities, and superb human capital, the West, particularly America, has not always succeeded in tracking down let alone thwarting every single instance of terrorism. In other words, not even America’s intelligence-gathering relations with Western Europe and Russia has succeeded in preventing every single act of terrorist sabotage from materializing. Ghana, on the other hand, could not even unravel the diabolical minds behind the spate of arsons that rocked the country in the aftermath of the 2012 general elections.

The Ghanaian security and intelligence communities are finding it extremely difficult to deal with the spate of country-wide armed robberies. It is also public knowledge that some members of the security have taken part in armed robberies themselves, provided intelligence and privileged information about wealthy persons and communities, and sophisticated weaponry to syndicates of hardened criminals, etc., so how can one trust the security when wealthier sponsors of Wahhabism and international terrorism can dole out a few dollars to these miscreants in the security? The entire security arrangement between the United States and Ghana involving these two alleged terrorists looks fishy. Definitely the executive presidency may have given Ghana’s security quo in exchange for a considerable (financial) quid.

Is the proof in the pudding? We do not know for certain insofar as the limited facts in the public domain discourage detailed valuation of the situation! And the fact that national security is a shared responsibility does not mean our misplaced compassion should be manipulated to justify its commodified bootlegging in a highly-politicized public bazaar like Ghana. It should not be. The leadership of the country however deserves privilege access to national security intelligence protective of the country, its citizens, investments, and so on. Of course, there are certain pieces of privileged intelligence information that must be kept from public knowledge. This is a truism.

This is because doing otherwise may prove strategically counterproductive and costly where one’s enemies gain direct access to their internal plans for sabotage and destabilization, a situation that may unnecessarily put the targeted country on a heightened alert and popular apprehension. And there are, of course, other pieces of privileged intelligence information that should be part of the normal fabric of public knowledge. The question is: Where do these two contradistinctive scenarios exactly fit in the complicated security arrangement involving the highly politicized transfer of the two alleged terrorists?

The problem is that no privileged intelligence information has come to light yet indicating that the two alleged terrorists may have planned, or in the process of planning, criminal acts of terrorism and sabotage against Ghana, its citizens, its investments, and its strategic interests. We do not even know for certain if they are actually behind the recruitment of those couple or so Ghanaians who have, reportedly, joined the ranks of ISIS. Ghana would have even been justified to pursue the cause of extraordinary rendition. Neither are we certain if the alleged terrorists targeted or were targeting Ghanaian investments and citizens in Cuba or the United States and even if the scenario were otherwise, how would the government have justified their stay in Ghana on the grounds of compassionate Christianism?

Also, the executive presidency could have at least engaged the services of Anas Aremeyaw Anas, even though we have to admit that the latter’s collaboration with the government in the judicial corruption scandal has set a really bad precedent for possibilities of future antagonism between the judiciary and the executive, thus undermining the proper operation of law. But there is a school of thought that also believes the relationship between the judiciary and the executive is a cordial one, such as the alleged judicial rigging of the 2012 general elections for the incumbent party. This same school of thought believes the executive colluded with Anas to come up with damaging forensic evidence indicting the judiciary ahead of the 2016 general elections.

In other words, to show the judiciary what the executive is capable of! If these wild allegations have any provable substance, then Anas will certainly not be the right candidate for the job. These hypothetical possibilities do not pass muster in the face of the available facts on the Gitmo-detainee transfer controversy. Having said that, any of those afore-cited reasons could have justified our government’s preemptive or preventive engagement with the alleged terrorists in the national interest where, for instance, the danger the two would have posed to Ghana’s security concerns actually constituted a decisive factor in appraising data based on reliable intelligence.

That appears not to be the case in the current controversy. Thus, compassionate Christianism does not cut it. What is the alternative then? A better reason (s)! A more convincing justification (s)! The executive presidency needs some hard explaining to do to convince the public why it took in the alleged terrorists.

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis