Moonilal disappointed as JSC deny request to investigate SSA changes

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Moonilal disappointed as JSC deny request to investigate SSA changes

The Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security has shut down a request by Opposition members Dr Roodal Moonilal and Jayanti Lutchmedial, who wanted the JSC to investigate the sudden changes made to the Strategic Services Agency (SSA).

Moonilal and Lutchmedial made their request to committee chairman, Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland, in a letter dated March 5 after SSA director Major Roger Best was sent on administrative leave on March 2nd. Ambassador to Washington, DC, Brig-Gen Anthony Phillips-Spencer was quickly appointed acting SSA director.

The JSC met virtually yesterday (March 11) to consider their request and Scotland said the committee met in plenary session and a vote was taken and the request denied.

The other members of the JSC are Independent Senator Dr Paul Richards; and PNM members Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Randall Mitchell; Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy; Point Fortin MP Kennedy Richards; and Minister in the Ministry of Works and Transport Richie Sookhai.

Moonilal said he was disappointed by this development.

He said in a Newsday report: “There is a scarcity of official information on this. What we are really receiving are newspaper reports, which are not really official.”

Moonilal believed the JSC’s rejection of the request could be related to concerns about premature comments being made publicly while certain investigations are ongoing.

He claimed there is no information in the public domain that speaks to any investigation into matters concerning the SSA.

Moonilal said the committee could have met in camera to examine the SSA matter.

He added this approach would not have the committee’s meeting being broadcast live on TV, radio or online if there is a concern that sensitive information could be raised that could be detrimental to any investigation.