HERE IS THE CONTINUATION OF THE INTERVIEW WITH MATTATHIAS SCHWARTZ

Was it easy to get information about the existence of the US military plane from the American govt.? What was the actual process?

I filed requests with several agencies in the U.S. government under the Freedom of Information Act. Confirmation of the plane came through the Department of Homeland Security. A copy of what they sent me can be read on my website here:

http://www.mattathiasschwartz.com/download-the-dhs-tivoli-gardens-foia-document-here/

So at no time was there hesitance on the part of the US govt to provide the information?

There was a great deal of hesitance. Many people and institutions declined to answer questions that I posed to them.

 

Is there any way to get the actual footage recorded by the plane into the public domain? Are you interested in pursuing the story further?

Yes and yes. I want to make the footage public and I am pursuing this goal through multiple channels. The footage is an invaluable piece of evidence in determining what took place in May 2010 and who exactly was responsible for so many civilian deaths.

Do you think that there may have been more US involvement than that which has been formally recognized?

I wouldn’t want to speculate—what I try to do is amass as much evidence as possible and then talk about what the evidence shows. Right now there is no evidence that has been made public suggesting that the U.S. had “boots on the ground” during the Tivoli operation. Most of what we do know is in three paragraphs from my story, below. I should also say, however, that the U.S. and Jamaican governments both have a great deal of nonpublic material and evidence about the operation, and that I am a long ways from being convinced that the U.S. did not have a more direct involvement in the operation than has been disclosed up to now.

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The State Department and the D.E.A. have also officially acknowledged that the plane assisted the Jamaican government during the Tivoli operation. The P-3 Orion, they said, in a statement given to me this fall, passed information “to U.S. law-enforcement officers stationed at the Embassy, who provided that information to Jamaican authorities.” The statement said that U.S. law-enforcement officers had not made “operational decisions” during the incursion, and emphasized Jamaican responsibility. “The video material was not viewed in the Embassy,” a State Department spokesperson said. “It was viewed at a tactical-operations center, and I don’t have the location of that.” When asked whether there were U.S. officials at the tactical-operations center, the spokesperson said, “I don’t know. I can’t clarify that for you.” A D.E.A. spokesperson said, “We were absolutely not involved on the ground in any of the operations.”

But parts of the D.H.S. report appear to contradict that assertion. The plane was assigned “at the request of and in support of the Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.) Kingston Country Office,” the report reads. “Surveillance support is needed to increase officer safety.” Later, spokespeople from the State Department and the D.H.S. said that this referred solely to Jamaican officers. Major General Stewart Saunders, who led the Jamaican Army during the attack on Tivoli, retired shortly afterward, and declined repeated requests for comment, as did Prime Minister Golding. Numerous other officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, the D.E.A., the Justice Department, and the State Department declined to comment, saying that they had to wait until Witter’s report was completed or until Coke was sentenced.

It is clear that the U.S. played a major role in tracking Coke before the operation. “We were constantly involved in the investigation,” Bill Sorukas, the chief of the International Investigations Branch of the U.S. Marshals Service, said. “We provided information and intelligence on Coke and associates he was with.” He noted that the U.S. collaborates closely with the Jamaica Fugitive Apprehension Team, a special unit of the police, and that the “investigation was worked jointly” by the D.E.A. and the police. A senior Jamaican parliamentarian added that the U.S. government had provided satellite images of Tivoli in response to a 2008 request from Jamaican law-enforcement officials who said they needed help tracking Coke.

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What did you think when the former Minister of Security Dwight Nelson denied the existence and involvement of the US military aircraft?

 I thought that he was being less than honest with the Jamaican people.

The coincidence of the article being published within 4 weeks of Jamaica’s general election led some to believe that the timing was deliberate. Conspiracy theorists here have said that the US govt. wanted to punish the JLP and ensure their loss in the election. How do you respond to this?

It is a coincidence. The U.S. government has no control over the New Yorker’s publication schedule. That is not how the media works, at least not in the U.S.

The issue of credibility on the whole became a major reason for the JLP’s loss. The denial of the US plane which we all saw was one of several nails in their coffin. How do you feel being the person who basically put a spotlight on this particular lie?

It is indeed interesting that the U.S. can fly a plane over Jamaica, a plane that millions of people saw, a plane that was photographed by the chief photographer at the Gleaner, and that the Jamaican government can continue deny its existence months later.

Has there ever been to your knowledge the equivalent incident in your country’s entire history? If not, what comes closest?

History never repeats itself exactly but here are some (very) rough and debatable analogs that come to mind: The attack on David Koresh’s compound in Waco, Texas, 1993. The bombing of the MOVE compound in Philadelphia, 1985. The 1967 Detroit riot and 1965 Watts riots.

What would you like to see happen now? What is in your 1st world media eyes appropriate closure? With West Kingston, the state, the victims, the criminals, law enforcement, Jamaican society?

We need to know what happened. All evidence must be released. This includes videos, ballistics, autopsies, and records kept by the U.S. government, the Jamaican government, and the security forces. If it appears that the law was broken during the attack on Tivoli Gardens, and, based on the evidence in my story, I am convinced that it was, the guilty must be brought to justice.

I did this piece to hopefully remind people in Jamaica that two years after the Tivoli Incursion there has been no release of any of the information related to any of the questionable killings which took place. None. 

I ask one thing. Please email or call any of the contacts listed below and ask them to pressure the Jamaican government to seek answers. Included is the phone number for the Office of the Public Defender in Jamaica. His name is Earl Witter. He is the person who has been given the mandate to investigate the questionable killings. For the international contacts you can refer them to the article in the New Yorker and this blog post.

Jamaicans For Justice—- http://www.jamaicansforjustice.org/

Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org/en/contact

Office of Public Defender 876-922-7089

National Integrity Action Ltd —–http://niajamaica.org/contact-us/

Human Rights Watch attn José Miguel Vivanco, Americas Director http://www.hrw.org/en/contact-us

European Union in Jamaica http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/jamaica/about_us/contacts/index_en.htm

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