'Politicians use the attacks in Paris for their own benefits'

Edward Snowden criticizes the call for more power for intelligence services.

Edward Snowden. Beeld belga

Edward Snowden blames politicians who ask for more powers for intelligence services after the Paris attacks of 'seizing a catastrophe for their own benefits'. They need to remember recent history, he says, pointing to the Patriot Act as the American response after 9/11. 'A quick law is never a good law', Snowden says in an interview with Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant.

One of the politicians immediately responding to the Paris attacks, is British prime minister David Cameron. According to the BBC he promised a 'comprehensive piece of legislation' to close the 'safe spaces' used by suspected terrorists to communicate online with each other after the Paris attacks.

Snowden: 'France passed one of the most intruding and expensive surveillance laws in all of Europe last year and it didn't stop the attack. This is consistent in what we've seen in every country. The White House did two independent investigations into the effectiveness of the Patriot Act and mass surveillance and, despite monitoring the phone calls of everyone in the United States, it hadn't stopped a single attack. We have seen the same thing in the UK: it didn't stop the attacks in London, didn't stop the attacks in Spain, didn't stop the attacks in Boston."

Too much data

Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden said to Newsmax that the French would be very interested in American metadata right now. Hayden: 'The French are going to come to us and ask us in that ocean of metadata, do these new numbers that we've just associated with these people, do these new numbers show up and what have they been doing and with whom have they been in contact? We did that stuff for a reason. We did it to keep you safe, not to invade your privacy.'

Snowden: 'I was at the NSA on the day the Boston marathon bombings occurred. I walked into the cafeteria with one of my colleagues and as the news was breaking I said: I will bet almost anything that we knew who these people were. That we had something on them. And later on we found out that was the case. The problem with mass surveillance is that you are burying people under too much data.'

He sees 'political figures' who feel an 'obligation' after a certain threat to show 'they are doing something'. Snowden: 'They try to pile even more hay on top of the people who are trying to sort it out. And this leads to an outcome that's an sort of enforced negligence, where there is no way that the analysts who throw out these attacks can do what they need to do. You don't need mass surveillance in France to get the terrorist phone records. Any judge in the world would say these persons are involved in a terrorist attack and we want to know who they are talking to. It's the investigation of a crime. The same kind of crimes that we've investigated over a hundred years because terrorism is not new. And the way we do that is on the basis of targeted application of power, not indiscriminate dragnet spying.'

Runners continue to run towards the finish line of the Boston Marathon as an explosion erupts near the finish line of the race (2013). Beeld reuters
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