Snowden leaks being blamed for Paris attacks as U.S. intel chiefs lament losing edge against terrorists

( U.S. intelligence chiefs including the head of the CIA have intimated that a major reason why they and other Western agencies were unable to detect the plot to attack civilians in Paris last week was due in large part to “unauthorized disclosures” of intel capabilities by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and others.

“I do hope that this is going to be a wake-up call, particularly in areas of Europe where I think there has been a misrepresentation of what the intelligence and security services are doing,” CIA Director John Brennan said this week at a conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“In the past several years, because of a number of unauthorized disclosures and a lot of handwringing over the government’s role,” he said, a blithe reference to Snowden and others who have leaked intelligence community strategies and capabilities. “There have been some policy and legal and other actions that have been taken that make [finding] terrorists much more challenging…. They have gone to school on what it is that they need to do to keep their activities concealed from the authorities.”

Speaking at the headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the head of the department, Robert Cardillo, made a similar reference to Snowden and others, in reference to how ISIS operatives were able to plan and execute the Paris attacks that killed 132 people.

“The adversary has gone and is going to school against our capabilities,” Cardillo told reporters Nov. 17. They are now operating in “ways that stay under our ability to detect,” he added, calling the fact of the attacks “a failure” of the Intelligence Community, which exists to protect the public.

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Other intelligence officials say the widening use of encryption technology by web sites like that exist to protect identities has only added to the difficulty of rooting out terrorist plots.

“No evidence has surfaced yet that Snowden’s revelations made a difference in this case, or that the perpetrators of Friday’s attacks used encrypted communications to conceal their activities,” Politico reported Tuesday.

“Still, there’s no denying the political context. The criticism of Snowden comes as intelligence officials seek to reopen a debate over the balance between security and privacy — a balance that seemed, before the deaths of 129 individuals in Paris, to have been settled firmly in favor of civil liberties,” the site added.

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