Catfish Diplomacy Hits Washington: ‘Give me your WhatsApp number’, Ali demands

On the morning of Monday, July 25, Irfaan Ali met with US Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves in Washington DC. During the meeting, Deputy Secretary Greaves committed support to the Government of Guyana in the areas of banking, finance, and tourism as well as US private sector investment in Guyana.

President Ali committed to working closely with the Department of Commerce and other US agencies to facilitate US private sector investment in Guyana. However, at the end of the meeting, things went south when Ali unceremoniously requested the WhatsApp number of the Deputy Secretary.

If the PPP did not gut the Ministry of Foreign of some of the best professionals, someone may have been able to advise Ali that you cannot demand unofficial communications with high US officials. If professionals were still at Takuba Lodge, Ali may have been told that the US Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves can be contacted via (202) 482-8376. TWITTER. @DepSecGraves.

Those are official contacts through which all and sundry must communicate officially with the Deputy Secretary of Commerce. There is no WhatsApp number listed because, in 2016, WhatsApp declared: ‘WhatsApp deployed end-to-end encryption throughout our app in 2016, so that calls, messages, photos, videos, and voice notes to friends and family are only shared with the intended recipient and no one else (not even us)’.

This means, that if Dan Graves and Ali’s WhatsApp communication becomes the subject of a congressional or Inspector-General investigation, the communication can be destroyed. As a result, the investigation would be handicapped or rendered null, and Dan Graves could violate his Presidential Records Act (PRA) obligations.

The PRA requires that the average US Administration take steps to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of the President’s constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented and that such records are preserved and maintained. For this reason, WhatsApp communications which are often personal contacts, are not listed as the official contacts of high-ranking US officials.

Added to this, if Ali’s ignominious request was not egregious in the face of US law, it was certainly inopportune concerning protocols. A sitting president should not be communicating with a Deputy Commerce Secretary directly. On two grounds: the offices are mismatched and the need for communication should be satisfied through assistants and the technical persons.

More, In The Ring.