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Greenwald writes: "Decent people see tragedy and barbarism when viewing a terrorism attack. American politicians and intelligence officials see something else: opportunity."

Glenn Greenwald. (photo: Getty)
Glenn Greenwald. (photo: Getty)

Why the CIA Is Smearing Edward Snowden After the Paris Attacks

By Glenn Greenwald, Los Angeles Times

27 November 15


ecent people see tragedy and barbarism when viewing a terrorism attack. American politicians and intelligence officials see something else: opportunity.

Bodies were still lying in the streets of Paris when CIA operatives began exploiting the resulting fear and anger to advance long-standing political agendas. They and their congressional allies instantly attempted to heap blame for the atrocity not on Islamic State but on several preexisting adversaries: Internet encryption, Silicon Valley's privacy policies and Edward Snowden.

The CIA's former acting director, Michael Morell, blamed the Paris attack on Internet companies "building encryption without keys," which, he said, was caused by the debate over surveillance prompted by Snowden's disclosures. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) blamed Silicon Valley's privacy safeguards, claiming: "I have asked for help. And I haven't gotten any help."

Former CIA chief James Woolsey said Snowden "has blood on his hands" because, he asserted, the Paris attackers learned from his disclosures how to hide their communications behind encryption. Woolsey thus decreed on CNN that the NSA whistleblower should be "hanged by the neck until he's dead, rather than merely electrocuted."

In one sense, this blame-shifting tactic is understandable. After all, the CIA, the NSA and similar agencies receive billions of dollars annually from Congress and have been vested by their Senate overseers with virtually unlimited spying power. They have one paramount mission: find and stop people who are plotting terrorist attacks. When they fail, of course they are desperate to blame others.

The CIA's blame-shifting game, aside from being self-serving, was deceitful in the extreme. To begin with, there still is no evidence that the perpetrators in Paris used the Internet to plot their attacks, let alone used encryption technology.

CIA officials simply made that up. It is at least equally likely that the attackers formulated their plans in face-to-face meetings. The central premise of the CIA's campaign — encryption enabled the attackers to evade our detection — is baseless.

Even if they had used encryption, what would that prove? Are we ready to endorse the precept that no human communication can ever take place without the U.S. government being able to monitor it? To prevent the CIA and FBI from "going dark" on terrorism plots that are planned in person, should we put Orwellian surveillance monitors in every room of every home that can be activated whenever someone is suspected of plotting?

The claim that the Paris attackers learned to use encryption from Snowden is even more misleading. For many years before anyone heard of Snowden, the U.S. government repeatedly warned that terrorists were using highly advanced means of evading American surveillance.

Then-FBI Director Louis Freeh told a Senate panel in March 2000 that "uncrackable encryption is allowing terrorists — Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and others — to communicate about their criminal intentions without fear of outside intrusion."

Or consider a USA Today article dated Feb. 5, 2001, eight months before the 9/11 attack. The headline warned "Terror groups hide behind Web encryption." That 14-year-old article cited "officials" who claimed that "encryption has become the everyday tool of Muslim extremists."

Even the official version of how the CIA found Osama bin Laden features the claim that the Al Qaeda leader only used personal couriers to communicate, never the Internet or telephone.

Within the Snowden archive itself, one finds a 2003 document that a British spy agency called "the Jihadist Handbook." That 12-year-old document, widely published on the Internet, contains instructions for how terrorist operatives should evade U.S. electronic surveillance.

In sum, Snowden did not tell the terrorists anything they did not already know. The terrorists have known for years that the U.S. government is trying to monitor their communications.

What the Snowden disclosures actually revealed to the world was that the U.S. government is monitoring the Internet communications and activities of everyone else: hundreds of millions of innocent people under the largest program of suspicionless mass surveillance ever created, a program that multiple federal judges have ruled is illegal and unconstitutional.

That is why intelligence officials are so eager to demonize Snowden: rage that he exposed their secret, unconstitutional schemes.

But their ultimate goal is not to smear Snowden. That's just a side benefit. The real objective is to depict Silicon Valley as terrorist-helpers for the crime of offering privacy protections to Internet users, in order to force those companies to give the U.S. government "backdoor" access into everyone's communications. American intelligence agencies have been demanding "backdoor" access to encryption since the mid-1990s. They view exploitation of the outrage and fear resulting from the Paris attacks as their best opportunity yet to achieve this access.

The key lesson of the post-9/11 abuses — from Guantanamo to torture to the invasion of Iraq — is that we must not allow military and intelligence officials to exploit the fear of terrorism to manipulate public opinion. Rather than blindly believe their assertions, we must test those claims for accuracy. In the wake of the Paris attacks, that lesson is more urgent than ever. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+21 # barkingcarpet 2015-11-27 12:27
It is not the "leaders folks, really. It is every one of us in our (unexamined) belief riddled knee jerking responses as we are led by power hungry thugs and fundemented fear mongers.
Where are our pitchforks and where is the love, as we mostly avoid involvement or accountability?
It IS we, the masses, with every waking dollar and every part of the once living interconnected diverse communities of life which we turn into disposable trash and landfills of lifeless pavement, and more "stuff."
It ain't the idiots behind the screen foolks, it is us.
Why ARE we driving in circles? And, why do we care so little for all of our brothers and sisters and focus on skin color? Why do we share so little and shoot so much, and why do we profess love and caring, by raping every living environment into trash cans of disposable junk, so that folks may think we care?
Care about what? More stuff?
It just ain't the "leaders..." Where are we involved in anything beyond consuming and comfort?
+30 # tedrey 2015-11-27 12:49
Nonsense, it's not "every one of us." Speak for yourself. Many of us are absolutely opposed to what you describe and are doing something about it. And a huge part of what the problem is, is precisely what you call "the leaders," who encourage such crass behavior. Why are you letting them off the hook?
+9 # barkingcarpet 2015-11-27 13:46
Huh? I am speaking for myself, and there is only so much "I" can do. It does take "us." Why are WE letting "them" off the hook? We are the fools allowing the world to continue as it is and does. We support it with every dollar spent and every mile driven and every thing we waste and throw "away" wherever "away" may be......
Too few of "us" are opposed, or at least actively involved, physically/vocally.
"We" allow and condone the "leaders" through inaction and apathy.
The only thing which has ever changed the world (in the human realms anyway), are involved masses of people, which are unstoppable. Fear and apathy and ignorance hold "us" back.
+3 # dickbd 2015-11-27 15:13
I think the main problem is the corporate media. It's not just a matter of waste. There are too many of us. Overpopulation has continued to be our number one problem, but the corporate media, which only cares about the bottom line, has managed to bury any reference to that problem.

They only care about the bottom line, and some day, I'm afraid, they will learn that you can't eat money.
+8 # davehaze 2015-11-28 08:43
Politicians are us. We vote for them.

Barkingcarpet is correct. The problem is us. We have to change. We can stop the corporate politicians by refusing to support them. We can bring down the odious corporations by not buying their products. We can act instead of being passive. Petition the government by your voice and your feet. Get out and march. You will have to eventually as things fall apart, as the police target you and your children.

Or don't do anything but complain and give those who don't think like you thumbs down.
+20 # Anarchist 23 2015-11-27 13:20
In the Universe I seem to inhabit, most of the terror events, including 9/11 and in deed as far back at the Assassination of JFK are 'inside jobs'...I doubt if the Paris attacks are any different. and look how useful they have been! they have ramped up anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiment in USA, allowing for the use of more force. They have brought France further into our state of war and Britain too is following. Meanwhile turkey has shot down a Russian jet, bringing NATO into ...a state of war with Russia? So who will have time for the importance of the climate talks? Rather well done, C.I.A.! What is the ultimate goal? Destruction of the planet?
+11 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-11-27 13:51
No, the evil beings in control of this nation, and the whole world, are not trying for the destruction of the planet. They just want those people with out any love or compassion to get even richer and to take ever more from the rest of us.

Indeed the CIA have done a good job in advancing the agenda of the greedy few. It is our duty as citizens of this nation to face the fact of the coup that occurred on the day they killed JFK and change this rotten corrupt government.

We are not going to be able to do this by voting -- when our only choice is pile of slop D or pile of slop R.

We are going to have to all join together and get out on the streets to stop business as usual. We need to sweep the crud out of Congress and elect new people who are chosen by the people registered to vote in the districts. We must not allow our Representatives to vote against the advice of those people. We must not allow them to vote as directed by their major donors. We must end the selling of our democracy.
+7 # dickbd 2015-11-27 15:02
I'm not convinced that they killed JFK, but he was angry with all the bad intelligence he received in regard to Cuba, and he was reputedly considering disbanding the CIA. That would have been his greatest accomplishment.

I agree wtih most of what you say, but it is difficult for me to be angry with the American public, as they are constantly misinformed by the corporate news media.
+7 # evalderrama 2015-11-27 14:10
It looks like the OSS has fouled up it's latest name/incarnatio n beyond repair. I guess it's time for another name change; maybe "DOF" for "Defenders of the Faith."
PS What I can't understand is how/why anyone can give any credence whatsoever to the bleatings of a covert agency overtly dedicated to deceit!
+11 # dickbd 2015-11-27 15:07
Unfortunately, few people are aware of how vile they are. Politicians praise it, and it is glorified in music and movies. Look at the popularity of the James Bonds movies. He's not CIA, but he is in the British equivalent.

Some people try to apologize for the CIA by saying we only hear about their failures. However, I'm with the guy who said, "If this vile organization ever did anything right, it's the only thing they ever managed to keep secret!"
+17 # reiverpacific 2015-11-27 14:19
The CIA are the super-finks of our time, responsible for more overt and covert murders than all the "Terrorists" since WW11 until today combined.
They lie to recruits.
They lie and inculcate in them that they are "defending" America and Americans by murdering people of other nations.
They lie to their government and have a huge Black Budget not even accountable to the President, for carrying on their murderous, plundering and usurping ways.
They lie to the people that they invade and murder them if they resist the plundering, enslaving plans on behalf of the huge multi-national, corporate-milit ary Capitalist exploiters who roam the globe sucking up the earth mothers blood.
If you can still get it, Read the late Phillip Agee's (a former agent a station chief) "Inside the Company -A CIA Diary" for a detailed history of his recruitment and subsequent turning away from what he was ordered to do. He died in Cuba, having been pursued across much of the world after the book was finally published.

They never will understand, and will try to prevent others others from comprehending that;

"I do not think the measure of a civilization
is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their environment and fellow man."
Sun Bear Chippewa.

I'm sure that Edward Snowden can testify to this fully.
+10 # dickbd 2015-11-27 14:59
I hope to live to see the CIA disbanded. It is truly a vile organization. And yet, it is a great platform for television fantasies, so it gets lionized unintentionally in those.

Another great book is DEADLY DECEITS by Ralph McGahee. He was in on the beginning of the CIA, and he was a Rhodes Scholar and an All American football player. He was so dismayed by what they had done during the Vietnam War that he contemplated suicide, but fortunately he wrote this book instead.

It can be a little taxing to read, but it really gives an inside look at how the CIA has evolved in all its duplicity and venality. It should be required reading in school.
+3 # reiverpacific 2015-11-27 21:49
Quoting dickbd:
I hope to live to see the CIA disbanded. It is truly a vile organization. And yet, it is a great platform for television fantasies, so it gets lionized unintentionally in those.

Another great book is DEADLY DECEITS by Ralph McGahee. He was in on the beginning of the CIA, and he was a Rhodes Scholar and an All American football player. He was so dismayed by what they had done during the Vietnam War that he contemplated suicide, but fortunately he wrote this book instead.

It can be a little taxing to read, but it really gives an inside look at how the CIA has evolved in all its duplicity and venality. It should be required reading in school.

I've read it and you're right.
Just recall what happened to Robert Kennedy, his stated purpose being to disband the C.I.A., whose scantily-disgui sed Mafia connections and liaisons -especially of the post Batista Cuban "exiles" kind, were a foil for further murderous adventurism, including Cuban invasions, the recruitment and subsequent protection of José Posada Carilés to bomb a Cuban civilian airliner.
Their reach is long, many-tentacled and invariably fatal if one is caught in a sucker-heavy strangle-hold.
And BTW, THIS is all based on what we're "allowed" to know, or which leaks out from some particularly dedicated information seekers and/or investigative journalists.
+9 # guomashi 2015-11-27 14:34
It's time to repeal Godwin's law.

WW III is now.
America is playing the role of Nazi Germany, demonizing muslims instead of jews and "protecting our freedoms" by invading foreign countries.
+1 # dickbd 2015-11-28 16:19
Well, I don't think that Jews whould be demonized either, but the extremes in every religion can be a problem. Unfortunately, most Jews have embraced Zionism, and that concept has turned out to be the enemy of us all.

I suggest reading Alan Hart's three-volume work on Zionism, in which he predicts Zionism will bring back anti-Semetism. I think he's right.
+9 # elkingo 2015-11-27 14:50
"...we put Orwellian surveillance monitors in every room of every home that can be activated whenever someone is suspected of plotting?..."

THERE! Somebody finally said it! I myself have always wanted 2-way telescreens in every room of my house, because - who knows? - I might commit a crime, even without knowing it!

But perhaps I shouldn't worry so much. I believe this computer has that capability.
Has a camera built in pointing right at me, and once the inbuilt program offered me the option of CIA surveillance.

I declined. I can't be tasked with surveillance of the CIA! I'm too busy with poetry.
0 # elkingo 2015-11-27 15:13
Eve Ensor lamented the "absence of love in public policy." And there you have it. This is not some vaporous hippie notion, but the real thing. Nietzsche distinguished between the "will to power" vs. "the will to love." 'Bout sums it up. But ISIS is the Nazi Germany of today and needs to be destroyed, even if we DID create it.
+24 # dickbd 2015-11-27 15:16
To me, Edward Snowden is one of the great heroes of all time. It is nothing short of shameful that he is vilified.

I wasn't going to vote for Hillary anyway because of the fact that she is such a hawk. However, her comment that Snowden should return to face justice nearly gave me apoplexy!
+1 # janie1893 2015-11-27 15:36
Good is bad and bad is good. It is a very simple concept.
+4 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-11-27 18:39
Evidently, about 30 people high up in government knew about 9/11 beforehand and decided to stand back and let it happen. How many of the "spies" knew about the Paris attack beforehand?
+4 # moonrigger 2015-11-28 12:19
There will never be a way for the CIA or any other agency to sift through all our myriad communications and be able to make any sense of what they net. This is really why the court ruled in favor of privacy--survei llance on that scale just ain't feasible.

Demonizing Snowden, Silicon Valley, etc is just a diversionary tactic that the baggers hope will get the public scared enough to forfeit even more rights.

As we all learned following the Attacks, clues were available in the data collected BEFORE 9/11, and yet no one knew what to make of it all. To waste time drawing dotted lines between callers is insane when you have terrorists providing you threats directly that contain times, dates, and locations. It's just like the TSA program: they are sifting through ALL passengers hoping to find bombs, when there are obvious ways for terrorists to make an end-run past screeners, i.e. airport workers, caterers, fence jumpers, etc. In engineering, they work out where the probable threats are and focus thusly, and not waste resources where problems are least likely. Apparently no one at the TSA got the memo. If we choose to capitulate on privacy, we'll have lost our democracy forever. Whoever heard of a country giving citizens back their rights, unless there's a bloody revolution. An ounce of prevention, folks...

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