Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.(iWN file photo)

By *Jomo Sanga Thomas

(Plain Talk, June 7, 2019)

Power likes darkness; the powerful harbour disdain, disgust and disregard for the intrusive glare of light. The political class does not subscribe to the notion of sunshine as the best disinfectant. Bad things happen under the cloak of darkness, and the powerful frequently cringe and scurry for cover when dark spaces are flooded with the illuminating brilliance of light.  This is why former head teacher, Otto Sam was transferred, then fired, for writing the letter about NEMO’s state of disaster unpreparedness. 

Kenton Chance, St. Vincent & the Grenadines’ most competent and enterprising journalist, is pilloried for doing good journalistic work. Daniel Ellsberg was crucified for publishing the Pentagon Papers, which disclosed the colossal crimes the United States was committing in Viet Nam. Whistle-blower Edward Snowden had to flee the United States and take up residence in Moscow. Chelsea Manning was jailed for 30 years by Obama’s Justice Department for disclosing a huge volume of secrets; classified information that blew the lid off the war crimes and crimes against humanity that the American military forces were committing against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. This is why Julian Assange, the founder and publisher of Wikileaks, is being tortured, arrested, jailed and facing 170 years in jail, if he is ever tried by a US kangaroo court on trumped up espionage charges.

This is also why the US military sent out a memo, more than 10 years ago, outlining ways in which Assange was to be smeared and propagandised against, so that he would not be seen as a true journalist, but as an enemy.  And so, in truly Orwellian fashion, Assange, who has done more than most to shed light on the American government’s crimes and criminality, which include torture, disappearance, murder and detention without trial, is seen as a bad man, while the true war criminals walk around in business suits and with deadly smiles.

Malcolm X’s words ring true: “If we are not careful, those who own and control the media will make us hate our friends and love our enemy.”  As a result of the negative propaganda, all of these brave souls cited above are seen in a bad light by a significant section of the population, because of politics and the machinations of the powerful.  The major media houses, which published the documents released by Julian Assange and Wikileaks have now joined the Swedish, British, and American government’s efforts to tarnish and thus reduce trust in Assange and Wikileaks. When your neighbour’s house is on fire, wet yours. News that is unflattering is described as fake news. Sections of the media are tarred as enemy of the people.

With Assange’s arrest, Daniel Ellsberg is correct when he argues that “every journalist in the country now knows for the first time, that she or he is subject to prosecution for doing their job as journalists.  It cuts out the First Amendment’s freedom of the press, which is the cornerstone of our American democracy and of this republic.”

In the old days of journalism, journalists went to jail so as to protect their sources. Today, the journalist is being punished for doing his/her work, which is to discover a lead, follow the story to the end, and publish their findings. 

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, founder of the online investigative news source, Intercept,eloquently captures the essence of the current battle. “Journalism isn’t espionage. Being a journalistic source isn’t engaging in spying. And publishing information that lays bare government misconduct is not espionage. When journalism is treated as a crime, we are all in danger. The Assange indictment is not the end of the Wiki Leaks saga. It is the beginning of a major assault on freedom of the press.” 

The ink had not yet dried on Greenfield’s words and he has been proven correct. Last Wednesday, the story broke that the Australian Federal Police raided the headquarters of the country’s public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC), in connection with a story the network broadcast in 2017, detailing misconduct by Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan.

The 2017 report, dubbed the Afghan Files, uncovered allegations of unlawful killings of unarmed civilians, including children. These and other forms of misconduct were committed by Australian Special Forces soldiers in Afghanistan. It also quoted from military documents that expressed concern about a deterioration of organizational culture within the elite Special Forces, and a “willingness by officers to turn a blind eye to bad behaviour”.

Daniel Oakes and Sam Clark, who produced The Afghan Files, were described as “two of the finest journalists’ who are ‘honest and committed to telling the truth in the Australian public’s interests”.  The ABCManaging Director David Anderson said, the raid was “highly unusual” and “a serious development and raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press and proper public scrutiny of national security and Defense matters”.  He said the network would “stand by its journalists, will protect sources and continue to report without fear or favour on national security and intelligence issues when there is a clear public interest”. 

The Australian authorities also raided News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst. Smethurst reported on secret plans to allow government spying.  Marcus Strom, an official with the journalists’ union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said police raids against the media were “becoming normalized and it has to stop”.  Strom said the raids represent a “disturbing pattern of assaults on Australian press freedom”. Clearly, the governments are being emboldened by the successes scored in the assault, harassment, jailing and torture against Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. 

This is a new low. The deep dark state is coming for all of us, and too many of us are cheering on the encroachment on our rights and freedoms. One can only hope that we come to our senses before it’s too late. We must remember never to forget Angela Davis’ wise words: “If they come for me in the morning, they will come for you at night.”

*Jomo Sanga Thomas is a lawyer, journalist, social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

16 replies on “If they come for me in the morning…”

  1. C ben-David says:

    Angela Davis is not a journalist; Otto Sam is not a journalist; nobody would consider Julian Assand or Daniel Elsberg or Chelsea Manning as anything but thieving dump artists of classified data which Elsberg and Manning have or will serve many prison years for and where Assand will eventually die.

    You are illogically comparing apples and oranges.

    As for you, sir, being a member of the ruling regime, you are invincible and untouchable.

    1. Rawlston Pompey says:

      C. Ben David

      Obvious that the author has a ‘chip upon his shoulder,’ that he wants somebody or some power, if they so desire to ‘…Come for me in the morning…….

      Not sure what may have prompted the ‘…social commentator’ to author this commentary, but could not agree with you more.

  2. Rawlston Pompey says:

    INTERESTING THOUGHTS – UNDISPUTED FACTS

    Lots have been written that cannot be denied or disputed.

    Evidently a person of high intellect, from a ‘…National Security,’ perspective, as ‘…an attorney-at-law; …journalist; … social commentator and Speaker of the House of Assembly/lawmaker,’ would the writer;

    (a) …engage in treachery; or

    (b)… commit treasonous acts as to be seen as compromising the security of the nation and
    people, as those apparently seen as heroes and heroine referred to in this
    commentary, under the guise of ‘…journalism?

    Seems that a person, so committed to journalism should stick to that which he is deeply committed, as in the case of ‘…Kenton X Chance.’

    He is not a ‘journalist’ to day; Not an attorney tomorrow;; and certainly not a member of Parliament directing the legislative agenda of ‘…an affiliate government administration.’

    Besides those so referred have not found themselves in such awkward, but avoidable positions.

    One could never be a ‘…Priest and a Nun’ at the same time. Then who are you?…

  3. Vincy Lawyer says:

    Jomo, may I ask what criteria you used to give Kenton such accolades? I’m not being negative but his repetitive writing style, his failure to fact check etc etc leaves a lot to be desired.

    Kenton may be a first stop to hear about a story but anyone who is a believer of facts, credibility or a lack of bias knows not to find it on this website.

    Jomo, credibility, fact checking and impartiality are the cornerstones of a competent and enterprising journalist. We can therefore agree to disagree with your assessment of Mr. Chance.

    PS: Admin, I await your defensive response 🙂 My back is broad.

    1. C ben-David says:

      Assuming your criticisms are accurate, Kenton Chance is still the best journalist in the land.

      If Jomo and I are correct, what does this say about the quality of his colleagues and competitors?

      No need to answer a rhetorical question like this.

  4. So true Ben, Jomo is part and parcel of the ruling clan, oftentimes he is between a rock and a hard place.

  5. Although there is mostly truth in what C. Ben wrote, I think his sentiment is off. It is true that many of those mentioned are not journalists. They do however have a journalistic role. What Jomo is trying to say is that those who speak truth to power can expect trouble. Of course Jomo, being a high-ranking member of the establishment has nothing to fear. Especially since he never challenges power close to home, only power far away, who could care less what Jomo has to say.

  6. Ben you can dress up a pig and put on lipstick but we know its still a pig …..simple .
    You can fool some people sometimes but you cant fool all people all the time.

    To quote the late great Bob Marley …”.Rasta dont work for no CIA “

  7. Calliaquaman says:

    We are so dumb

    You miss the There again. What get from reading, When people speak out against the powerful be it Governments, CEO, NGO, School Teachers, Police, Lawyers, Permanent Secretaries, etcs. You will be destroy.
    He cited these people as example, please stop ! We are not so foolish in your Education Revolution not to understand Jomo, only politically we are being brain wash by dumbest of the so-called interlectuals like ?

  8. Jomo’s central proposition that Assange potential prosecution by Donald Trump Justice Department represents this extraordinary threat to press freedom conveniently forgets an exceedinly important point: Julian Assange went to extraordinary lengths and used extraordinary means to help elect Trump to the American presidency.

    Putin used Assange and Wiki leaks to illegally undermine Hillary Clinton’s election to the American Presidency. Trump is simply biting off the hand that fed him.

    And of course ben-David is correct: Jomo is part of the ruling regime – whether he accepts it or not.

    1. Jim Jordan, I think most of us appreciate your sentiments however, it has been proven that Putin did not meddle in US elections and that Obama cooked that one up to help Hillary. We all have to be aware that most all the news from the USA is Fake News. Or do you believe that Assad gassed his own people but does not gas his enemies? Saddam’s nuclear bombs, torpedos in the Gulf of Tonkin, etc…

  9. Arnold Thomas says:

    And don’t forget many people sign a secrecy/confidential pledge when taking up certain jobs…only to break it by revealing information that they swore to protect!. So many of those in SVG who squawk discrimination when caught.

  10. You can rest assured Jomo that “the deep dark state” you write about will not be turning on one of its own immediately, not right now, not with this euphoria and ecstatic exuberance in the air over this U.N seat. Nevertheless the regime that you are a part of, is very glad to see Venezuelans, the Iranians and the Nicaraguans getting killed.

    To that end and which you are aware of “over 300 people have been killed since protests started in April seeking President Ortega’s resignation.” Is that Orwellian double speak alive, well and kicking and now part of your stock in trade?

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/thousands-flee-nicaragua-escape-government-crackdown-181113115117657.html

    What are we to make of our own Vincentian lack of that “Freedom of Information Bill” Jomo and your regime recent passing of that Cyber Bill here, to which the world’s body of journalist had objected? How had these events furthered the cause and work of a free press in SVG?

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/nicaragua-pushes-silence-critics-sanctions-threat-181219110128019.html

    Come now man! The way you write any one not living in SVG could quite easily get the impression that you were not a member of this governing U.L.P regime and was at the same time far removed from it, a regime that is one of the Venezuelan strongman staunchest supporters.

    With such companions as the ones you keep Jomo, perhaps you ought to know indeed, much about the deep dark state after all!

    1. Great! Expose the con-artist. Thanks James H. I am getting sick of these deception politicians.

      You really have to appreciate Jesus who said:
      “Know them by thier fruits”.

      Jomo’s deeds are most always contrary to his words; regardless of how mis-guided he is. He is a very mixed-up man who sees only what he wants to see and denies the very nose on his face when it does not serve his “on again, off again” philosophical agenda.

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