Monday, November 16, 2015

CIA Director Criticizes Post-Snowden Surveillance

The recent ISIS terror attacks have spurred interesting comments from John Brennan, Director of the CIA. Citing the attacks in Paris, Brennan claimed that he "would anticipate that this is not the only operation ISIL has in the pipeline”, and that the recent measures to reduce government surveillance have only weakened America's ability to identify "murderous sociopaths".
The surveillance reform Brennan refers to comes after the NSA scandal that began in 2013, when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden began releasing confidential documents exposing the highly suspicious and essentially corrupt acts of the agency, especially in regard to obtaining phone records. The passage of the USA Freedom Act in June of this year was meant to reduce the intrusive powers of the NSA and increase the privacy rights of American citizens.
However, John Brennan believes that this act and the general reevaluation of NSA power has made it more difficult to identify possible threats to the nation. While not commenting on France's intelligence and security, Brennan did say that the attacks were "not a surprise", implying that (at least) the CIA may have known about a planned large-scale ISIS attack.

-Do you believe that, in light of terrorist attacks, privacy rights should be weakened in order to protect citizens? What is the line between privacy and prevention?
-Do you believe Americans have a right to decide the level of privacy they can have, especially in times of terror? Or is this the government's right to decide?



Jonathan Liu said...

To answer the second question first, I don't think it's the government's right to decide the privacy of its people. Giving the government this power goes directly against the point of democracy -- the people should always be the ones determining the reach of the government. It may be safer if the government was given this power to decide on their own, but it would also open up the way for tyranny and monarchies.
That said, my answer to the first question is that they should get more privacy. Sure, the countries have all been mobilized against ISIS, and the world has come together to support the tragedies that have occurred, but at the end of the day we're all scared of ISIS and its power. Obviously, before the Patriot Act, the government's "privacy infringements," although scary, have really made no impact on our lives other than having the potential to make us safer. They have not leaked compromising data of random citizens, fought crime through impermissible evidence, or at least have not been caught doing it. The way I see it, as the government made no impacts with their past levels of surveillance other than keeping us safer, there's no reason not to let them back in.

Cecily Bohanek said...

Here's a follow-up article worth the read: