Virtual JSC meeting on Monday over SSA shake-up

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, left, with Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher and National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds. –

A virtual session of the Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security will, instead, be held today, when members will decide on the Opposition’s request to summon National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds and others to explain the shake-up at the Strategic Services Agency (SSA).

The meeting was expected to be held on March 8, but was cancelled.

The agency’s director Major Roger Best was sent on administrative leave on March 2. He was replaced by Brig-Gen Anthony Phillips-Spencer who held the diplomatic post of ambassador in Washington.

On March 3, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said the decision was made by Cabinet on the advice of the National Security Council (NSC).

The Prime Minister is the chairman of the NSC and head of the Cabinet.

The OPM said Phillips-Spencer is initiating an extensive review and audit of all personnel, equipment and processes in the SSA.

After Best’s removal, Opposition members of the JSC Dr Roodal Moonilal and Jayanti Lutchmedial, in a signed letter to committee chairman, Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland, called for the committee to convene to discuss the SSA matter.

Contacted on March 10, Lutchmedial said Friday’s meeting was cancelled with no reason given.

She said they are now expected to meet virtually on Monday at 3 pm.

Lutchmedial said the outcome of the meeting will determine the next step in the quest for answers.

“I enter all these meetings with an open mind, but if it is that our request is denied, I would expect that adequate reasons would be proffered by those who are denying the request and who will be against it.”

She said even if the request is denied it will still “shed some light on how this whole issue is being managed.”