Opposition Leader: Uighur deal was a Brown vanity project
United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan yesterday described the Uighurs affair as a vanity project for former Premier Ewart Brown after US ambassador Daniel Fried confirmed there was no quid quo pro for Bermuda.
“It is the final disappointment of the Uighur debacle to learn that former Premier Brown got nothing for Bermuda in his deal with the US Government,” Mr Swan said in a statement.
“It says to us the Premier was either naive or just interested in rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty in the US Government.”
From the beginning, Dr Brown insisted it was merely a humanitarian gesture to bring four former Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the Island in a move which infuriated political colleagues, the UK and large sections of Bermuda's public in June 2009.
Many people suspected some kind of secret deal had been struck which could have either given Bermuda cash or protected the Island from the proposed Neal Bill, which targets tax avoidance by US companies using offshore subsidiaries.
But earlier this week, Mr Fried, a US Special Envoy who was involved throughout the discussions, said: “There was no quid quo pro, no secret side deal. The then Premier took the step for humanitarian reasons.”
Mr Fried said Bermuda received a minimal amount to defray the costs of transportation, something offered to every country that accepts detainees; he rejected reports some countries received millions of dollars in aid packages for accepting former detainees.
Mr Swan, who failed with a motion of no confidence against Dr Brown in the immediate aftermath of the move, said yesterday: “Clearly, Dr Brown was not working for Bermuda when he agreed to take the detainees off US hands.
“This is the only conclusion to be drawn from the US Government's unequivocal statement this week that there was no quid pro quo for the Uighurs.
“As Premier of Bermuda, we expected that Dr Brown would have at least tried to exercise some level of statecraft to work a deal that could benefit the Island. Not so. This appears now to have been a vanity project and nothing more.
“Yet it did serious damage to the governance of Bermuda. In his haste to please his American friends, Dr Brown showed disregard for his Cabinet colleagues, Bermuda's Parliament, the Governor, the United Kingdom Government, Bermuda's Constitution and, ultimately, the people of Bermuda.
“That his Government supported his actions in a Parliamentary vote simply doubled the damage, and established a political precedent for rule-breaking by Bermuda's leaders.”
Dr Brown declined to comment on Mr Swan's statement.