Terrorist groups are increasingly using high-grade, advanced end-to-end encryption technologies so that no law enforcement can catch them.
The deadliest terror attacks in Paris that killed 129 people were the latest example of it.
The Paris terrorists almost certainly used difficult-to-crack encryption technologies to organize the plot – locking law enforcement out, FBI Director James B. Comey told Congress Wednesday.
FBI’s Comey believes ISIS is making use of popular social media platforms to reach out to potential recruits and smartphone messaging applications that are end-to-end encrypted, meaning even the company cannot read the messages.
Blame Game: Ex-CIA Director Blames Edward Snowden For Paris Attack
Ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, who once said Snowden “should be hanged by his neck until he is dead,”has blamed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for revealing the agency’s efforts to break encryption and for teaching terrorists how to avoid being caught.
Woolsey said, Snowden, who leaked a vast trove of classified files detailing the extent and workings of the United States intelligence system, is responsible for the Paris terror attacks and now has ‘blood on his hands.’
According to Woolsey, it was Snowden’s leak of top-secret documents about how American and British spy agencies monitor and track people worldwide that led terrorist groups like…
…ISIS and Al-Qaeda to adopt new communication methods, including end-to-end encryption channels, to avoid surveillance.
But, Why Blaming Snowden? It’s Intelligence Failure
The tougher and more important question here is – If terrorists used encryption to plan the strikes in Paris, did they circumvent our spying agencies’ Bulk Interception tools and offensive cyber operations?
“I was a bit surprised just by how quickly and blatantly – how shamelessly – some of them jumped to exploit the emotions prompted by the carnage in France to blame Snowden: doing so literally as the bodies still lay on the streets of Paris,” the journalist Glenn Greenwald said, who has worked with Snowden to expose NSA secrets.
Bulk interception is the collection of the vast quantity of internet data, sometimes from thick undersea cables and then storing it in databases for a limited time.
However, the government’s claims about the NSA bulk surveillance of email and phone records that the operations are to keep the country safe from terrorism are overblown and even misleading.
Surveillance of phone metadata has had no visible impact on preventing terrorist attacks, so it is a total failure of our intelligence agencies, and not Snowden.
The fact that, long before Snowden’s leaks, our so-called intelligence agencies around the world failed to prevent many terrorist attacks, including:
- The Bali bombing in 2002
- The Madrid train bombing in 2004
- The 7/7 London attacks in 2005
- The series of attacks in Mumbai in 2008
- The Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 that took place in the intense security at the leading annual event in a major American city
However, after all these terrorist attacks, the government response has been uniform – Give the intelligence agencies more powers and greater abilities to track, surveil and monitor anyone they believe is suspicious.
“The Snowden revelations were not significant because they told The Terrorists their communications were being monitored; everyone – especially The Terrorists – has known that forever,” Greenwald said.
Moreover, one of the leaked GCHQ documents contains what the agency calls a “Jihadist Handbook” of security measures, which was written in 2003, that instructs terrorists to learn and use sophisticated, strong encryption techniques to avoid government surveillance.
So, how could we blame Snowden, who exposed law enforcement’s mass surveillance operations in 2013; almost 10 years after the Jihadist Handbook was written.
After Paris Attack, Government’s arguments about Encryption and Backdoor
Now in the wake of the recent Paris terrorist attacks, the US government has renewed their assault on encryption and revived their efforts to force tech companies to install backdoors in their products, like encrypted messaging apps.
The intelligence agencies have gotten it all wrong. Due to the bulk collection and interception, the overall volume of encrypted internet traffic has gone up and up, that the intercepted data has become inaccessible even to intelligence agencies.
So, it’s not Snowden who is responsible for the Paris attacks, it’s the Failure of our government and intelligence agencies.