Hinds says he’s not to be blamed for SSA fiasco

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Hinds says he’s not to be blamed for SSA fiasco

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds says he is not to be blamed for the ongoing saga at the Strategic Services Agency (SSA).

Hinds, speaking at a media conference at his ministry’s Port-of-Spain headquarters yesterday, said while he is “constitutionally responsible” for the SSA, he was not aware of its issues.

He said had he known all that was happening at the SSA, he would have acted much earlier than the Government did to rectify the issues with the agency.

Asked if he took responsibility for all that is now unfolding at the SSA, Hinds said: “Of course! I am responsible to the Cabinet. I’m responsible to the Parliament. I’m responsible to the people, which is why exactly I am here today. So responsibility under the Constitution is quite clear.”

However, he said he was not taking blame as that and responsibility are two different things, which he said he has tried to explain to the nation repeatedly.

“Blame is one thing, responsibility in the constitutional sense is another something I have tried to share with this nation on several occasions in the past. I can’t know. I could not have known who the SSA was hiring, whether it was members of one church or next, whether it was members of one family or next. I could not have known that. As a matter of fact, had I known that I’d have stopped it long before now.”

Hinds added that if the media had heard he was involved in the hirings at SSA, that would have been an issue.

Also at the media briefing was Minister of Caricom and Foreign Affairs Dr Amery Browne, who said Hinds did not act prematurely or attempt to cover up any wrongdoings.

Asked if the hirings at the SSA needed to be looked at and given greater parliamentary oversight, Hinds said such oversight already exists, but this may have presented a chance for greater scrutiny.

“We learn as we go along and the SSA has been in existence for a very long time. We’ve never had this before, something has developed,” he said.

“So, you will all learn from this, and you rearrange your affairs, increase the height of your fences to ensure that that which popped up, which has happened, doesn’t easily happen again.”

He said when the Government was sufficiently apprised of what was happening within the SSA, steps were taken immediately to address growing concerns.