Response To Mitchell’s Response To Symonette

Tuesday 31st, August 2010 / 00:09 Published by

Following is MP Fred Mitchell’s response to DPM and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Brent Symonette, regarding the MOFA website.

In italics are my comments in response to Mr Mitchell’s comments.

The statements made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and published in The Tribune of Saturday 28th August with regard to the loss of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website are shocking and patently offensive. They are beyond stupid. They convey ineptitude on his part that is beyond belief.

Instead, it is Mr Mitchell’s response that confirms ineptitude.

The question of how the website was established is irrelevant to the issue that is before him as Minister. The fact is on his watch, he allowed the information which is proprietary to the Bahamas Government on mfabahamas.org to be lost and he does not have an answer for it.

First of all, the information may not be lost. C. Allen Johnson merely redirected the domain name to another website.  Domain names and websites are two different entities.  Domain names merely point visitors to servers where websites are being hosted.  You can lose your domain name, or change your domain name, without losing or changing your website.

Second, there might be a back-up of the site.  There certainly should have been.  Most web hosting providers keep some sort of back-up of websites prior to their deletion, even if the site’s hosting was not paid up to date.

Third, as administrator of the site, C. Allen Johnson had a responsibility to keep a back-up of the site. If he didn’t, then it is Mr Mitchell who is the fool for not ensuring that he hired a competent administrator.  Hmmm, maybe that’s why the government didn’t want to continue to do business with C. Allen Johnson; because he really is not a “critical thinker”.

Last, it is a breach of professional webmaster ethics not to have resolved this issue prior to the site expiring.  And, C. Allen Johnson had a moral obligation to back-up the site before shutting down the hosting and transferring the domain name.  The site’s physical content belonged to the government, not Mr Johnson, whether or not the hosting or the domain name were paid for, or had expired.

The best one can say in this matter is that Fred Mitchell is not the issue as much as he would like me to be. The issue is; how did he and officials allow the Government’s information to be lost?

See above

When this matter was revealed to the public, that the Ministry had lost the information, I wrote the Prime Minister to seek an immediate investigation and to urge the Prime Minister to cause his Minister to account to the public for his shocking behaviour, that of allowing government information to go missing and there was no accountability for it to the public. The Prime Minister has not answered to my complaint.

Nor would anyone else answer such an arrogant letter.

For three years on the occasion of the budget debates, in my monthly press briefings as Shadow Spokesman on Foreign Affairs, I raised the matter of the website and the fact that the Minister was simply not paying attention. On each occasion, the Minister would respond by saying that they were working on a new site.

See comment after the next paragraph.

At one point, his colleague Zhivargo Laing floated the absurd idea that the site was actually a Fred Mitchell site and not a government site. This equally absurd notion has now been adopted by Mr. Symonette. The record betrays the stupidity of this argument. Why would a website that is owned by Fred Mitchell continue for three years after he lost office to post speeches and picture of Brent Symonette on it?

If the website was posting speeches and pictures of Mr Symonette, then one would guess the government was paying attention and Mr Mitchell’s arrogant letter was unnecessary.

So this Member of Parliament has nothing to say in response to the Minister’s challenge that all the facts must be revealed about how the site was set up. Mr. Symonette has the records. Ambassador Joshua Sears and Dr. Patricia Rodgers, the now Permanent Secretary, are aware of all of the facts. Indeed the Ambassador is well aware of all of the facts and he now works for Mr. Symonette. We urge him to speak the truth to power. The Minister must step back from this witch-hunt in which his government is now engaged. The government should not be the police to lock up citizens of The Bahamas who are simply seeking to get the Minister to do his job.

The police locked up an idiot who claimed he had hacked government websites, not just someone who was seeking to get the Minister to do his job.

No matter how one looks at it, C. Allen Johnson acted unprofessionally as administrator of the site.  He appears to have hi-jacked government property, that is patently wrong and possibly illegal.

The Minister must say what steps he is now taking to recover the lost information.

The Minister must also accept responsibility for hounding the employees who were connected with the website out of the Ministry and now after the shocking negligence of the Minister, the information appears to be lost.

On one hand Mr Mitchell criticizes Mr Symonette for not paying attention to the site, yet the Minister is “hounding” former employees when he tries to find out the story behind the snafu.

The site contains information on where visas are needed for Bahamians to travel, who need visas to travel to The Bahamas, a list of treaties, policies of the Ministry, addresses and telephone number of ambassadors and consulates and honorary consuls.

All of which is available on other government sites and could be re-assembled in an afternoon.  All that might be “lost” would be Mr Mitchell’s petty speeches, which he so generously peppered the site with.

I did my job competently as a Minister. I am doing my job competently as the Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs. Mr. Symonette must not be begrudgeful. He must get down now and do his work. Time is quite short.

Sounds like it is Fred who is grudgeful.  (Is “begrudgeful” even a word?).  And how “competent” was it to entrust the “government” site to an irresponsible administrator like C. Allen Johnson?

Finally, after reading Mr Mitchell’s letter and analyzing his form of bogus logic and his arrogant tone, who can believe him when he says he isn’t the author of bahamasuncensored.com?

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