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Opinions of Sunday, 11 September 2011

Columnist: Akoto, Akwasi A. Afrifa

A Rejoinder to: Kwasi Pratt is A Double Agent

By* *Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto

Maybe they no longer care about the meaning of the words they use these days. As long as it sounds good in their ears, eureka! If they can be so reckless and careless about facts, why not with words? Because a Wikileaks cable recounts that Kwesi Pratt, Jnr. told the Political Officer of the US Embassy, Accra, during a visit at Mr. Pratt's office, that the flag-bearer of the NPP is a wee-smoker, some supporters of the NPP now wish to characterize Kwesi as a double agent!

I thought a double-agent was someone who spies on his own people and betrays them to the enemy. It gets confusing to note that the information supposed to have been provided by Kwesi to the American diplomat that is no secret at all. Who does not know that Akuffo-Addo smokes wee? Who pays a "spy" who reports something that is not even a secret?

I personally heard about this more than twenty years ago, at a time when Akuffo-Addo was not even that known at the national level! This is what even made it more credible at the time, because there was no political colour to the revelation. Tudu came up as one of his supply sources. As I said earlier, this is a long time ago, and particularly owing to his relative political insignificance at that time, I did not pay too much attention to the details.

I have never heard of such a childish propaganda. It is not only a sign of how desperate the NPP is, it is also a signal appreciating the effectiveness of Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Jnr., from keeping them away to come and repeat their "property owning" democracy! It does not surprise me that they are expressing such a fear of Kwesi in this way.

Let's take a look at the accusation. The writer wonders why even though WiliLeaks cables were not meant for public consumption but has some cables categorized as "CLASSIFIED", "UNCLASSIFIED", "CONFIDENTIAL", and so on. He explains that "This only means that although all the cables are " for your eyes only", some are more top secret - ive- and sensitive than others." Agreed.

The problem however is that the write states:

"Kwasi Pratt is not a politian, a bureaucrat, a civil servant, a diplomat, a party official or an aide to a big wig. He is a journalist who has said more outrageous things before. His "musings" contained no secrets. He has already written about them. Yet his cable was tagged "CLASSIFIED" and "Protect"; a combination of designations rarely found in the cables - more than 600 cables. "CLASSIFIED" and "protect", in this case, can only mean the object - Pratt -is more important than the subject - the election gossip. The protection of Pratt's IDENTITY is more important than the contents of the cable."

First of all, let's get the facts straight. We are not talking about "more than 600 cables" here. It is simply not true that "CLASSIFIED" and "Protect"; a combination of designations" are "rarely found in the cables". Here is a description of the cables. Please keep the statistics in mind, check it out and verify for yourselves, and let the liars make their projections to themselves:

"The full set consists of 251,287 documents, comprising 261,276,536 words (seven times the size of "The Iraq War Logs", the world's previously largest classified information release). The cables cover from 28th December 1966 to 28th February 2010 and originate from 274 embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions. There are 15,652 secret, 101,748 confidential, and 133,887 unclassified."

So, clearly and evidently, the assertion that "this is rare" in the way the interview with Mr. Pratt was reported, is simply ridiculous. It is a clear invention of fact to support an urgently needed lie about Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Jnr.! A sort of panic-reaction to Nana Akufo-Addo's marijuana blues. I have been asking around the meaning of the categories of the classification of the cables. So, I think I can fairly answer all the three questions of his and to assure Mr. Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto that it will take more than this to smear Comrade Kwesi Pratt, Jnr., as a "double agent".

Secondly, the fundamental pretext to all this is the failure or the refusal by the writer not to understand why government officials are not protected but others are. He even claims that the fact that Mr. Baba Jamal was not marked "PROTECTED", but Mr. Pratt's was marked, as an indication that "Pratt is a "special case", in some other "CLASSIFIED" role, in some other capacity, in one of the many US foreign and Intelligent agencies, on a "need to know" basis; Ghana's Deep Throat?"

It is interesting to see a question mark at the end of that accusation which inexorably tries to point at only one possible interpretation of the classification of the diplomatic cables. There is no reason to suppose that the political officer in question was an intelligence officer, and that even if he was, he would necessarily be aware the the presumed status the writer is according to Mr. Pratt. The writer himself asks us, "Don't forget the current cables are not even Intelligence cables." One would have thought that this would have made him sit up, throw all printed copies of his draft into the trash can, and delete the digitalized versions before anyone set his eyes on such stupidity, of seeing spies in a section where he himself knows they do not exist!

I have since been informed that a possible reason for the use of the term "PROTECT" is because US diplomats are routinely obliged, under law, to protect individual privacy rights of private citizens they come into contact with vis-a-vis those of Government officials. A friend explained to me by e-mail, "Traditionally (and ideally) in the US, government is supposed to be in the open and the words and actions of government officials are subject to public scrutiny. Private citizens are supposed to be able to preserve some more rights to privacy. So it may have to do with that, but I don't really know at this point."

Here is another response I got:

" Anyone who has read through the US cables on wikileaks knows that the word (Protect) is used whenever someone in the US diplomatic corps talks to someone in a country who might be considered a dissident and who may be subject to reprisals from his/her government. If you research the usage, it is clear these possible dissidents have no connection with the US government, other than the fact that they have had a conversation with a US diplomat, or that a US diplomat has read their written work. That does not make a person a US agent. Since Ghana has more freedom of the press than the United States, this is unnecessary in Ghana. However it is routine in the diplomatic cables, whether they are unclassified, classified, confidential, or any other classification."

Another possible explanation came in:

"Host countries do not like diplomats from other countries talking to opposition figures. It can appear as if it is a kind of behind the back negotiation. So (Protect) may not refer to the person so much as to the fact that a diplomat has spoken to someone, or even just read and quoted some of what they wrote. So (Protect) would not so much be to protect a particular person as to protect the diplomats and the embassy from suspicion of underhanded dealings, or from appearing to ignore protocol regarding the host government."

I liked this one:

" I forgot to add that the Americans are now notoriously paranoid, so they classify and mark as secret an enormous amount of information for which there is no need for secrecy."

I shall keep the public posted as we learn more about this phenomenon. In any case, there are far more plausible and intelligent reasons than the block-headed explanation that Mr. Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto wants us to have:

"This thus leads to only one possible conclusion, out of a few possible scenarios and the simplest of them all: Is Pratt is a "special case", in some other "CLASSIFIED" role, in some other capacity, in one of the many US foreign and Intelligent agencies, on a "need to know" basis; Ghana's Deep Throat? Don't forget the current cables are not even Intelligence cables."

Instead of seeking honest answers to his questions he decides to answer them himself with self-manufactured facts and a hypothesis to match with, and begin running naked in town with what is nothing but absolute balderdash! In the light of the simple explanation provided above see how stupid his questions already begin to sound:

'why would Pratt's cable be categorised as "CLASSIFIED" and not as "UNCLASSIFIED" or even as "CONFIDENTIAL?"'

Mr. Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto tries to make a comparison between the treatment of the text concerning the use of the word "PROTECT" against Kwesi's name, and "that of Babal Jamal, then a Vice Chairman of the P-ndc". He writes:

"Now take the cable that starts with "Political commentator, Kwasi Pratt.....(Protect)." In this cable Pratt gives his opinions on the impending elections - election 08. Every subject Pratt opines on are already in the public domain. Nothing he said was , hither to, a secret. So why would Pratt's cable be categorised as "CLASSIFIED" and not as "UNCLASSIFIED" or even as "CONFIDENTIAL?"

This is what he called; 'Question number two, why was the word "Protect" attached to Pratt's name - twice, in the introductory paraghraphs?' And here is his reasoning: 'For example, Babal Jamal, then a Vice Chairman of the P-ndc, confirms Candidate Mills' ailment in one cable......after he had gone to great lengths to keep Ghanaians in the dark and still does. (Mr President, if it is indeed true, I ll hence forth remember the state of your health in my prayers). Yet Jamal 's identity and the contents of his cable are not "Protected."'

He then proceeds to his third question; "This leads to question number three. Is Pratt is a "special case", in some other "CLASSIFIED" role, in some other capacity, in one of the many US foreign and Intelligent agencies, on a "need to know" basis; Ghana's Deep Throat?"

It is obvious that Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto is in such a great haste to get at Kwesi, so much so that he does not even make a pause and do some quality-control of the slime he is seeking to throw. He could have been more dangerous were he not to be so stupid. His principal weakness is the fact that he enjoys leaping to conclusions. The only thing I find rare here is the kind of fools of the nature of Akwasi A. Afrifa Akoto. It appears the only mental exercise he gets, is jumping into silly conclusions. If this were not to be attempts at character assassination he could have been recommended to get a medal for his great leaps! People may disagree with Kwesi Pratt. But it should be clear to anyone that he is passionately pro-Ghana. Whatever it is, what Kwesi said was not a "top secret" information betraying a comrade of his! I do not see Kwesi Pratt and Akufo-Addo as being together enough as to warrant an appellation of a "double agent". There is no doubt in my mind that Akufo-Addo, Asare Ochere-Darko and co are closely working with US Africa Command to make them acceptable to Ghanaians, and to establish military bases in Ghana. It is people like that we should be watching.

If Kwesi is really "spying" on these people, then it must be for the sake of our motherland, not the USA! Where is the "double agent"? In those documents, Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Jnr., was acknowledged as a "political pundit", is that not reason enough to seek his opinions? I saw a very intelligent comment on this on Ghanaweb:

"Stop spreading your ignorance on this forum. Mr Pratt speaks to officials of Russian, Cuban, British embassies all the time. Why do you make a giddily fuss when he speaks to an official of the U.S embassy? He is journalist and a political activist. What is the problem? He can't speak to his enemies. Is that the society you want us to build?" *