Trinidad: UNC says Cambridge Analytica story is a fairy tale

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Trinidad: UNC says Cambridge Analytica story is a fairy tale
UNC PRO Anita Haynes

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) —   An op­por­tunist! That’s how Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress (UNC) pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer Ani­ta Haynes de­scribed Christo­pher Wylie who worked with Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­i­ca (CA) and con­duct­ed da­ta min­ing and analy­ses in T&T.

Her com­ments came hours af­ter yes­ter­day’s front­page T&T Guardian ar­ti­cle head­lined “Sex, Spies and Lies” in­volv­ing the con­tents of Wylie’s new book Mindf*** which de­tails the work CA did in 2013 that paints T&T a dark pic­ture of the da­ta col­lect­ed and used by the then Peo­ple’s Part­ner­ship gov­ern­ment un­der Kam­la Per­sad-Bisses­sar’s regime.

Haynes in a press re­lease is­sued yes­ter­day de­scribed Wylie’s claims against the UNC as un­true and the par­ty “will now look at our le­gal op­tions against all per­sons in­volved in spread­ing this defam­a­to­ry in­for­ma­tion.”

The Gov­ern­ment, she said has start­ed “a con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry” in the lead up to the 2020 gen­er­al elec­tion against the Op­po­si­tion with­out fact-check­ing Wylie.

“These mem­bers of the Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Coun­cil should tell the coun­try at what point they re­port­ed Mr Wylie to the po­lice for spy­ing on T&T? To date, Mr Wylie has nev­er clear­ly stat­ed his role and has not named a sin­gle per­son in Trinidad with whom he was work­ing or li­ais­ing, not pro­vid­ed a shred of ev­i­dence, no re­port that he wrote for his al­leged em­ploy­ers in Trinidad.”

Nor has Wylie, she said pro­duced a con­tract or cheques that proved he was hired and paid.

The en­tire mat­ter, Haynes said was a far-fetched fairy­tale.

In a tele­phone in­ter­view with Guardian Me­dia yes­ter­day, Haynes said Young’s press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day “dou­bled down on the stu­pid­i­ty” by again rais­ing the al­le­ga­tions.

Weigh­ing in on the is­sue, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Dr Win­ford James said a sim­ple de­nial by the UNC was not good enough.

“How can we show that the claims are true or false. The UNC seems to have a big oblig­a­tion here be­yond de­nial.”

James said the al­le­ga­tion is based on spy­ing which vi­o­lates peo­ple’s pri­va­cy.

Wylie is in­sist­ing that the UNC re­tained CA to ac­cess pri­vate cit­i­zens’ da­ta which is bad for the par­ty.

“The UNC has to show that these al­le­ga­tions are wrong.”

With the De­cem­ber 2 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions around the cor­ner, James said PNM has raised the is­sue again for the mass­es to con­sume, un­der­stand and do some­thing about.

“Whether it is go­ing to per­suade and con­vince peo­ple who are sit­ting on the fence. I don’t know if that is suf­fi­cient to win over peo­ple on the fence. I am not sure that it is suf­fi­cient to pre­vent an ex­o­dus of sup­port­ers from the UNC. The onus is on the UNC to clear the name. They have to be con­cerned in the way they clear their name.”

Any par­ty that has such claims hang­ing over its head so close to an elec­tion, James said “has to wor­ry and won­der” whether their re­spons­es to these claims are go­ing to make their sup­port­ers be­lieve that the oth­er po­lit­i­cal par­ty has ma­nip­u­lat­ed cir­cum­stances to put them in a bad place.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Pro­fes­sor John La Guerre said CA has been as­so­ci­at­ed in sev­er­al fraud­u­lent re­ports and con­clu­sions.

“How­ev­er it’s al­leged in­volve­ment in lo­cal pol­i­tics is a bit dis­turb­ing.”

La Guerre said the CA scan­dal was a new de­vel­op­ment which seems to have broad­er im­pli­ca­tions if true.

“These things are not eas­i­ly put to rest.”

If Wylie’s ac­cu­sa­tion about porn has some truth in it, La Guerre said one has to in­ves­ti­gate if this vi­o­lates a per­son’s pri­va­cy.

“If CA could do it with im­puni­ty oth­ers may think they can do like­wise.”

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