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Gibson named in secret U.S. files

Former Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)Immigration Minister Shane Gibson was described as a”puppet of the privileged”by the United States Embassy in The Bahamas in a diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks regarding the Anna Nicole Smith scandal.

“The Anna Nicole scandal has recast Gibson as puppet of the privileged rather than defender of the common people of The Bahamas,”said the cable called’Hurricane Anna Nicole Wreaks Havoc in The Bahamas’.

The document was dated November 15, 2006 and it was classified by then Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau Dr. Brent Hardt. The British newspaperThe Guardianpublished two cables on the scandal yesterday.

The embassy’s characterization of Gibson as a”puppet of the privileged”results from his decision to fast track the permanent residency permit of Smith, who resided in The Bahamas before her death on February 8, 2007 in Florida.

Gibson resigned a few weeks later after pictures were published inThe Tribuneof him and Smith in an intimate embrace on Smith’s bed at the Eastern Road home she resided in.

The publishing of those pictures is believed to have contributed to the PLP’s loss at the May 2, 2007 general election. Referring to the PLP, the embassy said the party was”wounded”by the incident.

“Several months into her Bahamian residency, American B-list celebrity and regular entertainment television fixture Anna Nicole Smith has changed the face of Bahamian politics. Not since Category 4 Hurricane Betsy made landfall in 1965 has one woman done as much damage in Nassau,”said the cable.

The embassy noted that Gibson’s political career had been wrecked as a result of the scandal.

“The sordid details of Anna Nicole’s private life inspire readers to pick up a paper, and when they do they read about a government bending the rules for personal benefit and the privileged elite. The Anna Nicole affair has severely damaged Shane Gibson’s political career, tarnishing one of the PLP’s brighter stars,”said the cable.

The Free National Movement(FNM)was reportedly gleeful as a result of the scandal engulfing the PLP. The cable said that during a meeting with an unnamed FNM cental committee member, the member reported that polling in Gibson’s constituency foretold”a clear FNM victory in coming elections”.

In a second cable from the embassy dated March 6, 2007, called’Cabinet Minister Resigned Over Photos with Anna’, the embassy again refers to information it received from an FNM contact. The cable was also listed as classified by Dr. Hardt.

“According to a source in the FNM’s leadership, even before the photographs of Gibson in bed with Smith, the FNM would have focused its campaign in part on transparency and corruption in the ruling party,”said the cable.

“The FNM had alleged irregular visa issuances, lack of transparency in financial accounts, and possible corruption in a government housing development. Some observers feel that the PLP’s delay in calling elections was intended to diffuse concerns over these allegations, and that the renewed focus on Gibson and Smith ensured further delay before elections are called.”

The embassy was of the view that the scandal would provide the FNM with critical ammunition against the PLP during the campaign.

“The Gibson-Anna Nicole scandal gives the FNM just the focus it hoped for in a campaign already designed to question the PLP’s integrity. Whether such a strategy can overcome a relatively strong economy, job growth and an increase in social programs under the PLP is uncertain,”said the cable.

After Gibson’s resignation there were questions about his political future, considering that the scandal was harming the PLP. The embassy noted Gibson was well protected by his affiliation with Mt. Tabor Bishop Neil Ellis. Gibson is a member of Mt Tabor.

“Regardless, it must be frustrating to the PLP that Gibson continued his relationship with Smith against party advice after the scandal first broke in the fall. Regardless of party grumbling about Gibson, his strong constituency support­he won his seat by a landslide in 2002 and he enjoys the patronage of political heavyweight Bishop Neil Ellis will ensure that Gibson stays in the PLP’s plans,”said the cable.

The cables also reveal that the embassy does not think highly of Bahamian journalists.

“While easy to discount the tabloid journalism surrounding these issues, it is encouraging that the local press too often cautious with government and lacking strong in investigative journalism has been able to help hold a powerful member of the government accountable…,”said the cable.

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