Sunday Times’ Tom Harper Flaps on CNN

Tom Harper, who co-authored the Sunday Times splashBritish Spies Betrayed to Russians and Chinese”, had a bit of a ‘mare when he tried to defend the story to CNN‘s George Howell yesterday. It turns out the story was spun off the back of a single government source.  Harper’s CNN interviewer gently deconstructed his explanation for the provenance and veracity of the story in the manner of a concerned parent getting a confession from a toddler who has raided the biscuit tin and left a trail of crumbs…

GH:So essentially you’re reporting what the Government is saying but as far as the evidence, to you know, substantiate it, you’re not able to comment or explain that?

TH:No. Obviously when you’re dealing with intelligence, you know, it’s the toughest nut to crack. And, um, unless you actually have leaked intelligence documents, like Snowden had, it’s very difficult to say anything with certainty.

Guido thought we had learnt not to base intelligence news reports on intelligence community sources. They are after all spies – paid to lie – this was always going to go embarrassingly badly…

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Quote of the Day

Dr Alexander Kogan, the app developer who originally harvested the Facebook data, said…

“I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic and made claims this is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But I think the reality is it’s not that. If you sit down and you really work through the statistics and you think what does a correlation of point three means, those claims quickly fall apart. And that’s something any person with a statistical background can go and do.”


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