After Paris terror attacks, an amped up round of security state vitriol is directed at Edward Snowden

Former CIA head says he'd like to see Snowden "hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted"

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published November 20, 2015 9:32PM (EST)


Current and former top officials in the United States surveillance command have come out with their sights curiously set on Edward Snowden following last Friday's terror attacks in Paris.

Only three days after at least eight radicalized European nationals stormed the city of Paris in a series of terror attacks linked to ISIL, current CIA director John Brennan blamed the former federal contractor's leaks for allowing terrorist to practice more "operational security," making them harder to monitor -- although the CIA chief avoided explicitly mentioning Snowden by name:

In the past several years, because of a number of unauthorized disclosures and a lot of handwringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists, there have been some policy and legal and other actions that make our ability collectively, internationally to find these terrorists much more challenging.

Michael Morell, the former deputy director of the CIA, said Snowden's leaks helped contribute to the rise of ISIL and said that if Snowden hadn't leaked classified information on the United State's massive surveillance apparatus, the West would have had a "fighting chance" to prevent the Paris attacks.

“We’ve had a public debate. That debate was defined by Edward Snowden, right, and the concern about privacy,”  Morell said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “I think we're now going to have another debate about that. It's going to be defined by what happened in Paris.”

The fresh new round of Snowden bashing wasn't just reserved for the intelligence community either. Fox's Dana Perino was out pointing the finger at Snowden only hours after the attacks:

London's Mayor Boris Johnson said that Snowden had effectively taught terrorists “how to avoid being caught”:

To some people the whistleblower Edward Snowden is a hero; not to me. It is pretty clear that 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.

Taking the fresh round of Snowden bashing to a shameful new low, former CIA director under Bill Clinton, James Woolsey, told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Thursday that Snowden deserved to be "hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted.”

“I think the blood of a lot of these French young people is on his hands,” the former spy chief said.

But as the New York Times Editorial board wrote, denouncing the intelligence community's ugly scapegoating of Snowden for the Paris attacks, despite the leaks, "intelligence authorities are still able to do most of what they did before — only now with a little more oversight by the courts and the public":

Most of the men who carried out the Paris attacks were already on the radar of intelligence officials in France and Belgium, where several of the attackers lived only hundreds of yards from the main police station, in a neighborhood known as a haven for extremists. As one French counterterrorism expert and former defense official said, this shows that “our intelligence is actually pretty good, but our ability to act on it is limited by the sheer numbers.” In other words, the problem in this case was not a lack of data, but a failure to act on information authorities already had.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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