Privacy SOS

CIA director blames privacy advocates for Paris terrorist attacks



US and global intelligence agencies possess nearly god-like power and resources with which to infiltrate, dismantle, and monitor terrorist groups. But when they fail to stop attacks, as they did in Paris, they never accept responsibility for their own mistakes or shortcomings. Instead they lash out at civil libertarians and whistleblowers, accusing us of putting Americans and Europeans at risk, simply for demanding our basic rights.

We can and must argue about the merits and costs of dragnet surveillance. But what we cannot accept even for one moment is blatant distortion of widely acknowledged facts. Despite insinuations to the contrary, the surveillance programs disclosed by Edward Snowden are still in full effect. Efforts by civil libertarians to rollback the post-9/11 surveillance state at the federal level have failed to stop any dragnet programs.

So if you want to, claim despite all available evidence that making the haystack bigger helps the CIA catch bad guys. But don’t distort the most basic, uncontestable facts. Privacy advocates’ efforts have thus far failed to force the US national security state to stop warrantless surveillance.

If Brennan wants to blame someone for his agency’s failures, he may want to look closer to home. Using the Paris attacks as an opportunity to smear his ideological opponents might make him feel good, but it won’t make the CIA any better at its job.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.