When W. Scott Thompson was interviewed live on the April 14 episode of ANC Rundown, which is co-hosted by our friends Ricky Carandang and Ces Drilon, what he said stirred the denizens of Malacanang Palace and some of their rah rah persons in media. Obviously, the reaction was a reflection of who they considered Scott to be more than what he actually said.
Over a long deferred lunch which we finally had last Wednesday — before he left for the UK and the US — Scott narrated to your Chair Wrecker how Palace Spokesperson Charito Planas immediately contacted him after the interview to try to persuade him to soften what he said on ANC. Unable to get Scott to do what she asked, Planas — Scott added — went to Ricky Carandang to try to do something. Scott said that there was nothing Ricky could do with what had been aired live already.
To summarize what Scott had said on the ANC interview:
1. Scott reiterated the deep concern of top US leaders on how the May 10 elections might result in a serious security problem that could trigger violent hostilities here and instability. The US concern was specific -Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) is seen as the cause of the feared scenarios.
2. Scott confirmed what many already knew - that US President Barack Obama does not like GMA. He stated that the US under Obama will not make the mistake again of supporting another Philippine dictatorship the way the US supported Ferdinand Marcos.
3. Scott blamed former US Ambassador Kristie Kenney for inaccurate reporting on the Philippine situation - giving the officials in Washington the wrong impression of the GMA regime. He mentioned that the new US Ambassador to the Philippines, Harry Thomas, was personally chosen by Obama and will have the mandate to prevent any untoward incident pertaining to the elections.
Why does Scott Thompson carry so much weight? Here is what his online bio revealed:
1. W. Scott Thompson was a member of both the Ford and Reagan Administrations, has been adjunct professor of International Politics at Georgetown University and on the faculty of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He also is president of Strategic Research Associates, an international consulting firm, dealing today with issues of corruption, and chairman of the Board of UTICo, a Massachusetts company specializing in repatriation of laundered and stolen funds to clients, including banks, investors, corporations, and governments.
2. A graduate of Stanford and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar from California, Prof. Thompson has regularly lectured on defense, Third World, corruption and communication issues, before various forums including international conferences. He is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on foreign policy and governance.
3. In 1982-1984 he served the Reagan Administration as associate director, US Information Agency and in 1975-1976 was assistant to the Secretary of Defense. He has been consultant to the State and Defense Departments and to the US Navy. In 1975-1976 he was a White House Fellow. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and International Institute for Strategic Studies and numerous other organizations.
4. Dr. Thompson has advised two Filipino presidents, its National Security Council, and four Filipino cabinet members, on the matter of searching for and repatriating funds stolen during the Marcos dictatorship. He has similarly consulted with the Thai foreign minister and the previous prime minister on this, as he has the Attorney General of Indonesia and specialized agencies of the Indonesian government established to seek illegally obtained moneys and properties.
Scott will definitely be a major US source for country assessment and analysis in the formation of US Foreign Policy. The fact that Scott, by his own admission, has a direct line to Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair best underscores the value the White House places on his assessments and analyses. Dennis Blair is the former CINCPAC (Commander in Chief of the Pacific) and is now the top White House intel and security point man of President Obama to whom the CIA, Navy Intel et al submit their reports. It is Blair who will then consolidate what the US President needs to know and prioritize.
The Palace reaction must have stemmed more from what Scott represented (for those in the know) rather than what he said. Scott may have been delivering the message the White House wanted to state loud and clear but could not do so while using official channels owing to the diplomatic protocol. For instance, Messrs. Ronnie Puno and Bert Gonzales would have recognized the loud and clear US signal as would top officers of the Armed Forces and Police.
“Billy, what else can we do?” — Scott asked me during our lunch. His expression indicated that he gave serious thought to my suggestions. Of course, GMA will not like any of it at all.
It struck me that top US officials — President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, State Secretary Hillary Clinton and CIA Chief Leon Panetta, among them — are deeply concerned that their expressed sentiments for a clean and successful Philippine electoral process appeared to have meant nothing to GMA, as seen from what they have been monitoring. It also struck me that the US will not just confine itself to expressions of sentiments for a clean and successful electoral process here if the need arises for decisive resolute action.