Better Check That Deoxyribonucleic Acid

Has anybody done a DNA test on John Brennan? With the way he’s swooping down on the corpses of those killed in Paris to argue for more surveillance I’m beginning to think he’s a vulture that developed language skills:

John O. Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, appeared to be speaking in part about the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of phone and Internet communications that were disclosed by Edward J. Snowden in 2013. Those disclosures prompted sharp criticism and new restrictions on electronic spying both in the United States and in Europe.

Mr. Brennan also seemed to be pushing back against complaints from privacy advocates in light of a growing threat from the Islamic State against Western countries, exemplified by the gun and bomb assaults in Paris that killed 129 people on Friday night.

“In the past several years, because of a number of unauthorized disclosures, and a lot of hand-wringing 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 have been taken that make our ability collectively, internationally, to find these terrorists much more challenging,” Mr. Brennan said after a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington research organization.

As I noted yesterday, not a single terrorist attack was thwarted by the United States’ surveillance apparatus before the Snowden leak. When you have over a decade to show results and don’t there is no reason for anybody to take your program seriously.

This is the exact same shit we’re told whenever there’s a mass shooting. People must be disarmed to protect the people! The only difference is the word “gun” is replaced with the word “encryption.” But disarming people creates soft targets. When you take their guns you put them at the mercy of armed assailants. When you take their encryption you put them at the mercy of both state and non-state malicious hackers.

The “unauthorized disclosures” Brennan mentioned lead to a major overall increase in computer security. Everybody who uses a computer benefited from those disclosures. Common cryptographic libraries were studied under a new level of scrutiny and the result was a lot of bad crypto, which put people at risk, was replaced by better crypto. Political dissidents who lived under repressive regimes that relied on tools that often relied on bad crypto to identify them became safer. Searching for potentially embarrassing medical information became more confidential. Transmitting your credit card number to online retailers became less risky. Thieves who stole mobile devices found it much harder to harvest personal information about the rightful owner from them. Defense as a whole improved.

Considering that tradeoff, zero change in an ineffective program versus improve security for everybody, it’s hard to take Brennan seriously.