The CIA and government officials around the world are using the Paris attacks to push brand new surveillance laws. And it was all planned in advance.
While democratic systems usually take months (if not years) to pass new laws and legislation, it only took a few days after the Paris attacks to slap honest citizens with more surveillance laws. Several organizations are indeed capitalizing on the fear and panic caused by the attacks to bring forth a brand new agenda that takes a bold new step towards total government surveillance. What’s worse: Leaked information proves that authorities were waiting on a terror attack to go forward with their plan.
In a leaked e-mail written by Robert S. Litt, the intelligence community’s top lawyer during the month August, the plan is clearly outlined: There is a lack of support for the banning of encrypted communications but a terror attack could quickly turn the tide.
“Although the legislative environment is very hostile today, it could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.
There is value keeping our options open for such a situation.”
– Washington Post, Obama faces growing momentum to support widespread encryption
Only a few months after this e-mail, a terror attack occurs in Paris. Only a few hours after the attacks, news strangely blamed “encrypted communications”. Only days after the attacks, officials are calling for…the banning of encrypted communications.
The New York police commissioner, Bill Bratton, called it a “game changer” and, insinuated new legislation that would outlaw encryption was necessary by adding: “[Encryption] is something that is going to need to be debated very quickly because we cannot continue operating where we are blind.
– The Guardian, Intelligence agencies pounce on Paris attacks to pursue spy agenda
CIA Director John Brennan is also using the terror attacks to plead for unrestricted government surveillance of all communications, blaming “privacy groups” for hindering their job.
Then on Monday, in an epic episode of blame shifting, the CIA director, John Brennan, reportedly said privacy advocates have undermined the ability of spies to monitor terrorists. He explained:
“Because of a number of unauthorized disclosures and a lot of hand-wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists, there have been some policy and legal and other actions that are taken that make our ability collectively, internationally to find these terrorists much more challenging”, adding that there is a “misrepresentation of what the intelligence security services are doing”.
Read Brennan’s comments carefully because they are very revealing. When he says “legal actions”, he’s referring to the fact that multiplefederal courts have ruled that the government’s secret mass surveillance on millions of Americans is illegal. So it sounds like the CIA director is saying it’s a shame that intelligence agencies can’t operate completely above the law any more, and is scapegoating any failings on his agency’s part on accountability that is the hallmark of any democracy. (Though he still can apparently operate above the law.)
More importantly, Brennan’s comments are incredibly dishonest. The post-Snowden USA Freedom Act passed by Congress reformed exactly one of the countless mass spying programs the US runs. It was the one that sucked up the phone calls of Americans only, and here’s the thing: it has been active this whole time and isn’t scheduled to shut down until the end of the month.
Government officials in the UK are also capitalizing on fear to rush sweeping new laws.
On the other side of the Atlantic, politicians in the United Kingdom, which already has the most expansive surveillance laws in the western world, are using the tragedy to attempt to rush through their even more invasive, new mass-spying bill that aims at allowing police to see the websites every citizen visits and to force companies like Apple to backdoor their encrypted tools.
None of these laws have proven effective in preventing terror attacks. In fact, the Paris attacks took place six months after the enactment of a massive (and controversial) surveillance law in France.
Passed by the French Parliament in May in response to the attacks on the Paris-based magazine Charlie Hebdo, the law allows the government to monitor phone calls and emails of people suspected of connections to terrorism without the authorization of a judge.
But it goes further than that. The law requires Internet service providers to install “black boxes” that are designed to vacuum up and analyze metadata on the Web-browsing and general Internet use habits of millions of people using the Web and to make that data available to intelligence agencies.
In exceptional cases, the law allows the government to deploy what are called “ISMI catchers” to track all mobile phone communications in a given area. These catchers are basically designed to impersonate cell towers, but they intercept and record communications data from phones within its range, and can also track the movements of people carrying the phones.
Finally, the law allows government agents to break into the homes of suspected terrorists for the purpose of planting microphone bugs and surveillance cameras and installing keyloggers on their computers, devices that capture data on every keystroke and mouse click.
– Recode, France Has a Powerful and Controversial New Surveillance Law
In short, after each traumatic event in the Western world (manufactured or not), attention is turned towards a very specific and targeted item that “needs to be addressed as soon as possible”. This item is, in fact, part of controversial law that is sitting on shelves until in can be passed insidiously, while the masses are struck with horror. It happened with the Patriot Act and, almost 15 years later, it is happening again. Their formula is “Order Out of Chaos” and it keeps working.