Opinion: Spies

POSTED: 11/22/13 4:59 PM

The story in NRC Handelsblad about “illegal spying” in Bonaire by the Dutch intelligence service AIVD is, to say the least, remarkable. While author Joep Dohmen does not reveal the sources that confirmed his story, one has to consider that NRC Handelsblad is not a tabloid but a serious newspaper. That alone gives the story credibility.

What is so amazing about the story is that the spying apparently went on until 2010, while the foundation for good governance in Bonaire already published a black book with a truckload of documentation about the shenanigans of politicians like Ramonsito Booi and Burney El Hage on October 24, 2007, while the Public Prosecutor’s Office started its criminal investigation against the two politicians in 2009.

That Kingdom Relations State Secretary Ank Bijleveld knew about many of the allegations against Booi and El Hage since November 2007 (when the foundation offered her a copy of its black book) is a fact. But like the current minister of Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk, Bijleveld wisely kept her distance from the controversy and shoved the information onto the plate of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Curacao. After all, what happened in Bonaire was an issue for the Netherlands Antilles and for Bonaire itself, not for the Netherlands.

Against this background it is hard to understand why the AIVD would think it necessary to continue with an illegal spying operation in Bonaire. After the publication of the black book, how much more was there to find?

Bijleveld not only basically ignored the black book; she also continued the negotiations with Bonaire about its constitutional future. Those negotiations concluded in 2008 and the prosecutor’s office waited almost another year before it started the criminal investigation that culminates in the court case against Booi and El Hage that is scheduled to begin next Monday.

Talk about integrity: apparently the cloud of suspicion that hovered over Bonaire’s leading politicians did not bother Dutch politicians at all during the constitutional talks.

Article 43? Guarantee function? An instruction maybe from the Kingdom Council of Ministers for an integrity investigation? All this did not happen, which makes us think that the Dutch government had a plan B that gelled beautifully with the wish of the majority of the Bonairean population.

By concluding the constitutional reform process and bringing Bonaire within the realm of the Netherlands as a Dutch public entity no minister of Home Affairs is able to claim any longer that what happens in Bonaire is not his (or her) problem.

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