As the debate over how Friday’s Paris terror attacks were allowed to happen, despite the surveillance efforts of French and other world intelligence agencies, former United States Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey leveled the blame squarely at whistleblower Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contract employee who in 2013 leaked volumes of documents revealing top secret government surveillance programs against U.S. citizens.
Woolsey, in an interview with the MSNBC cable news network, accused Snowden of having “blood on his hands” after the Paris attacks — and Woolsey was not alone in his attacks on the exiled leaker who now lives in Moscow.
Current CIA Director John Brennan echoed Woolsey, accusing Snowden of basically teaching the Paris ISIS terrorists how to conceal their planning of the attacks from the authorities.
Watch Brennan deliver his attacks on “unauthorized disclosures” in the Associated Press video, below.
And London Mayor Boris Johnson joined the chorus of blame for Snowden, declaring, “his bean-spilling has taught some of the nastiest people on the planet how to avoid being caught; and when the story of the Paris massacre is explained, I would like a better understanding of how so many operatives were able to conspire, and attack multiple locations, without some of their electronic chatter reaching the ears of the police.”
But did Snowden, by leaking information about NSA eavesdropping on U.S. citizens, somehow educate ISIS fanatics and other terrorists in how to block their communications from intelligence agencies?
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While many of the abuses revealed by Snowden occurred in the atmosphere of heightened security that followed the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in fact terrorist organizations had been practicing sophisticated encryption of their communications even prior to September 11, 2001 — and at least 13 years in advance of the Edward Snowden revelations.
“Uncrackable encryption is allowing terrorists — Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaida and others — to communicate about their criminal intentions without fear of outside intrusion,” said then-FBI Director Louis Freeh, quoted in a February 5, 2001 article in USA Today entitled “Terror Groups Hide Behind Web Encryption.”
“They’re thwarting the efforts of law enforcement to detect, prevent and investigate illegal activities,” Freeh told a congressional committee in March of 2000.
But journalist Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who first met with Snowden and published his leaked information, says that the current effort to point a finger of blame at Snowden is “irrational” and, in fact, merely the work of current and former intelligence agency officials who seek to deflect blame away from the failure of the spy agencies to detect and stop the Paris attacks.
“When they fail miserably in their job and dozens of people die, as just happened in Paris,” Greenwald said in a published interview this week, “of course they’re petrified that people are going to look to them and say, ‘Why did you fail in your job?’”
In fact, French security agencies reportedly received warnings a day in advance of the Paris attacks that a major ISIS attack was in the works, but French authorities dismissed the warnings as the type of thing they hear “all the time.”
According to news reports Wednesday, the Paris terrorists may not have been bothering to encrypt their electronic communications at all. The French newspaper Le Monde reported Wednesday that investigators found a cell phone belonging to one of the attackers that had been simply thrown in the trash outside the Bataclan music venue where the ISIS attackers massacred at least 89 concertgoers.
That cell phone contained detailed plans of the concert hall and messages in plain language with no attempt at disguising their contents.
In addition, at least three of the known attackers in Paris were already well-known to security and intelligence agencies there — who simply did little or nothing about them.
The same has held true for earlier terror attacks, including the massacre earlier this year, also in Paris, at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine. One of the two gunmen in that horrifying attack had actually served three years in prison for terrorism-related offenses, but when he was released, authorities somehow failed to keep close enough tabs on him to prevent the January, 2015 Paris attacks — a fact that seemingly has nothing to do with Edward Snowden.
[Featured Photo By Bryan Bedder / Getty Images]