After the deadly attacks in Paris last week in which nearly 500 people were either killed or injured by ISIS terrorists, CIA director John Brennan (shown being sworn in) wasted no time in using the horrific attack as a pretense for criticizing what little reform has already taken place in the area of government surveillance. Claiming that the lack of intelligence about ISIS activities and plans was due to too little surveillance, the director followed the status quo of never letting a good crisis go to waste.
As the New York Times reported:
On Monday, in unusually raw language, John Brennan, the C.I.A. director, denounced what he called "hand-wringing" over intrusive government spying and said leaks about intelligence programs had made it harder to identify the "murderous sociopaths" of the Islamic State.
Mr. Brennan appeared to be speaking mainly of the disclosures since 2013 of the National Security Agency's mass surveillance of phone and Internet communications by Edward J. Snowden, which prompted sharp criticism, lawsuits and new restrictions on electronic spying in the United States and in Europe.
So, instead of facing up to the fact that the United States is at least partially responsible for creating the environment in which ISIS was spawned and blaming French gun laws (read: disarmament) for creating a "target rich environment" for the terrorists, Brennan instead chose to blame it all on the favorite whipping-boy of statists, Ed Snowden. At least he is carrying on the CIA tradition. As The New American reported previously, Brennan's predecessor, James Woolsey, said in 2013 that Snowden should be "hanged by his neck until he is dead." Given the choice between accepting responsibility and blaming Snowden, blaming Snowden wins hands down.
Brennan's remarks in such a fearful time could have the effect of reversing the small strides that have already been made in curtailing the surveillance of private citizens by a myriad of three-letter agencies which appear to be unable to do their jobs without taking the easiest path. And that is an important point: For Brennan's claims to have anything more than a veneer of credibility, the surveillance apparatus would have had to have been dialed back much more than it has been. Considering the surveillance under which the entire world, including France, sits at the hands of the Five Eyes nations, his excuse is paper-thin and without merit.
Foreign Policy reported on Brennan's claims that surveillance equates to security. The article, which leans heavily in favor of the surveillance state, said:
In his remarks, Brennan said the attacks should serve as a "wake-up call" for those misrepresenting what intelligence services do to protect innocent civilians. He cited "a number of unauthorized disclosures, and a lot of handwringing over the government's role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists."
He added that "policy" and "legal" actions that have since been taken now "make our ability collectively, internationally, to find these terrorists much more challenging." In June, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation reforming a government surveillance program that vacuumed up millions of Americans' telephone records. Passage of the USA Freedom Act was the result of a compromise between privacy advocates and the intelligence community.
Oddly, though, Brennan also said the Paris attack was "not a surprise" and was likely planned over a period of "several months." That would mean the planning stages took place before "President Barack Obama signed into law legislation reforming a government surveillance program that vacuumed up millions of Americans' telephone records." Clearly the obvious is lost on Brennan. He simply cannot admit that spying on ordinary citizens does nothing to prevent terrorism; it only threatens the liberty and privacy of those ordinary citizens. He is now using the deaths of 129 ordinary citizens and the wounding of hundreds more to justify his indefensible spying program.
In an attempt to continue building a surveillance state, Brennan used threats of future attacks to cow people into allowing the surveillance state to burgeon. In his speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, he told the crowd, "I would anticipate that this is not the only operation ISIL [ISIS] has in the pipeline," adding, "It's not going to content itself with violence inside of the Syrian and Iraqi borders."
Brennan is using fear of future attacks to further his agenda and effect a change in policy. Isn't that what terrorists do?