Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his role as Minister of Defence, explained that the government accepted an offer from the United States government for General Surveillance and Imagery Assistance and Communications to support local security operations in May 2010.
The Prime Minister was addressing journalists at a press conference at Jamaica House. Also participating in the conference were Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson; Minister with responsibility for the public sector, Senator Arthur Williams; Chief of Defence Staff for the Jamaica Defence Force, Major General Antony Anderson and deputy chief of Defence staff, Brigadier Rocky Meade.
Mr. Holness said that the Ministry of National Security would have had no knowledge of the agreement for assistance as the channels would have been directly to the agency involved, which was the Jamaica Defence Force, through diplomatic channels at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"The assistance provided was in line with the general agreements that we have with our partners. There was an offer for assistance, we accepted the offer, it went through the normal channels, and being as we accepted an offer and we needed the facility, it went directly for approval through the Civil Aviation Authority."
Mr. Holness said that the surveillance operations did not involve foreign forces on Jamaican soil. He also asked journalists to bear in mind the sensitivities that can accompany some national security operations.
"Some of the operations are not always in the domain of general knowledge…you have to bear in mind the sensitivities of the operations," the Prime Minister said.
The Chief of Defence Staff also said that Jamaica participated in regional efforts to fight drug trafficking, and that requests to foreign partners for surveillance assistance was normal.
The press conference was called following discussions in the local and overseas media about a USA aircraft performing surveillance over sections of the Corporate Area on May 24, 2010.