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Phillips-Spencer’s SSA posting upsets Kamla

Despite assurances from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley that the removal of Major Roger Best as head of the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) was in the best interest of this country’s national security apparatus, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar believes his replacement was put there to spy on citizens and political opponents.

Asked for her comment on the shake-up at the SSA and the installation of a new acting head, Persad-Bissessar told Guardian Media, “It seems that the Government, through the TTPS, has taken over control of the SSA. I have mentioned before that the state is spying on law-abiding citizens using the fig leaf of intelligence gathering.”

Dr Rowley has rubbished this suggestion.

However, Persad-Bissessar said she believes Anthony Phillips-Spencer was planted in the SSA to feed sensitive information to Government.

“Mr Spencer is a known political operative of the Rowley Government and he has now been appointed head of the SSA. There wasn’t even an attempt by the PM and his puppet President to appoint someone independent to this post,” she said via text message.

Persad-Bissessar also sought to underscore the power of the SSA.

“The SSA can access all your emails, texts, calls, WhatsApp messages, social media and data on your devices. Through political appointee Spencer, the Government has direct access to every citizen’s communication,” she suggested.

This is not the first time the Opposition is accusing the SSA of collusion with Government.

On September 11, 2022, Naparima MP Rodney Charles accused the SSA of using its surveillance powers to send advanced copies of Opposition members’ speaking notes to the Government.

Asked at that time for a comment, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds curtly responded with, “Stop trying to waste my precious time.”

Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said she believes even members of the People’s National Movement are not safe.

“This Government is also spying on their own members, financiers and supporters so don’t be mistaken and think that only people opposed to this Government are being intercepted,” she said.

Persad-Bissessar believes Government acted nefariously and this latest development is yet another stain on the country’s national security mechanism.

“The suddenness of these recent events at the SSA, coupled with a total breakdown in the leadership of the TTPS and a non-functioning Coast Guard further point to a National Security Ministry in total meltdown,” she argued.

She also again called for the removal of Fitzgerald Hinds as National Security Minister.

“The Ministry of National Security is in deep crisis and the violent crime situation will only get worse. Seven people were murdered over the weekend. I call on Rowley to remove Hinds, we are almost at 100 murders this year already,” she said.

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