Not surprising that after the failure of the intelligence to uncover the plot to kill and wound hundreds of people in Paris that the irrational finger pointing by blood thirsty, civil liberties hating neo-cons would begin. Of course, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is the prime target. The “Snowden Fault Game,” as Glenn Greenwald names it, started with MSNBC trotting out former CIA director James Woolsey who self-righteously proclaimed that Snowden had “blood on his hands” because the leaks gave terrorists information about how they were being tracked, leading them to change their behavior. It continued with former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday said:
“We’ve had a public debate. That debate was defined by Edward Snowden, right, and the concern was privacy. I think we’re now going to have another debate about that. It’s going to be defined by what happened in Paris.”
Over on Twitter, the ever so charming Dana Perino, former press secretary for the war criminal George W. Bush, sputtered, “Also, F Snowden. F him to you know where and back.”
On Monday, CIA Director and admitted liar John Brennan spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Global Security Forum again falsely claiming privacy advocates had undermined the ability of the intelligence community to track terrorists.
“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.”
At The Guardian, Trevor Timm said to read Brennan’s comment very carefully:
When he says “legal actions”, he’s referring to the fact that multiple federal 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.)
The nonsensical blaming was continued by politicians and so-called journalists on cable, and social media even after it has been pointed out that this rhetoric is belied by the facts that terrorists have known how to avoid electronic surveillance well before Snowden’s revelations, that there has been no curtailment of NSA phone dragnet and there was actionable intelligence from Iraq about the Paris attackers.
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.
Anytime an official laments surveillance reform or attempts to blame Snowden they should be confronted with these facts. Unfortunately, so far they’ve just been met with head nods and no follow-up questions about their own conduct.
As Glenn notes in his article at The Intercept, these propagandists are using the emotions over the events in Paris to blame Snowden as a distraction from the real culprits that empowered ISIS.
One key premise here seems to be that prior to the Snowden reporting, The Terrorists helpfully and stupidly used telephones and unencrypted emails to plot, so Western governments were able to track their plotting and disrupt at least large-scale attacks. That would come as a massive surprise to the victims of the attacks of 2002 in Bali, 2004 in Madrid, 2005 in London, 2008 in Mumbai, and April 2013 at the Boston Marathon. How did the multiple perpetrators of those well-coordinated attacks — all of which were carried out prior to Snowden’s June 2013 revelations — hide their communications from detection?
This is a glaring case where propagandists can’t keep their stories straight. The implicit premise of this accusation is that The Terrorists didn’t know to avoid telephones or how to use effective encryption until Snowden came along and told them. Yet we’ve been warned for years and years before Snowden that The Terrorists are so diabolical and sophisticated that they engage in all sorts of complex techniques to evade electronic surveillance. [..]
[..] U.S officials are eager here to demonize far more than just Snowden. They want to demonize encryption generally as well as any companies that offer it. Indeed, as these media accounts show, they’ve been trying for two decades to equate the use of encryption — anything that keeps them out of people’s private online communications — with aiding and abetting The Terrorists. It’s not just Snowden but also their own long-time Surveillance State partners — particular Apple and Google — who are now being depicted as Terrorist Lovers for enabling people to have privacy on the internet through encryption products. [..]
Above all, there’s the desperation to prevent people from asking how and why ISIS was able to spring up seemingly out of nowhere and be so powerful, able to blow up a Russian passenger plane, a market in Beirut, and the streets of Paris in a single week. That’s the one question Western officials are most desperate not to be asked, so directing people’s ire to Edward Snowden and Apple is beneficial in the extreme. [..]
Then there’s the related question of how ISIS has become so well-armed and powerful. There are many causes, but a leading one is the role played by the U.S. and its “allies in the region” (i.e., Gulf tyrannies) in arming them, unwittingly or (in the case of its “allies in the region”) otherwise, by dumping weapons and money into the region with little regard to where they go (even U.S. officials openly acknowledge that their own allies have funded ISIS). But the U.S.’s own once-secret documents strongly suggest U.S. complicity as well, albeit inadvertent, in the rise of ISIS, as powerfully demonstrated by this extraordinary four-minute clip of Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan with Gen. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency [..]
Given all this, is there any mystery why “U.S. officials” and the military-intelligence regime, let alone Iraq War-advocating hacks like Jim Woolsey and Dana Perino, are desperate to shift blame away from themselves for ISIS and terror attacks and onto Edward Snowden, journalism about surveillance, or encryption-providing tech companies? Wouldn’t you if you were them? Imagine simultaneously devoting all your efforts to depicting ISIS as the Greatest and Most Evil Threat Ever, while knowing the vital role you played in its genesis and growth.
This is a despicable attack on privacy using the dead in Paris and blaming Edward Snowden by the same people whose actions and policies created ISIS.