Paris Terrorist Attacks Reopens Debate Over Government Surveillance, Privacy

Civil libertarians say increased surveillance would not have made a difference in the Paris attacks, while New York Representative Peter T. King said political correctness needs to be put ‘aside.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week’s terrorist attacks on Paris and other attacks by the Islamic State have reopened the debate on how much government surveillance is necessary to help prevent further terrorist attacks.

The New York Times reported on Monday that CIA Director John Brennan sounded ready to reignite the debate over use of surveillance. He also appeared to be referencing the 2013 leaks made by Edward J. Snowden of the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices of phone and Internet communications for the “hand-wringing” over intrusive government spying.

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Brennan said leaks made it harder to identify “murderous sociopaths” of the Islamic State, also referred to as ISIS or ISIL.

Civil libertarians were quick to denounce calls for greater surveillance.

“As far as I know, there’s no evidence the French lacked some kind of surveillance authority that would have made a difference,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “When we’ve invested new powers in the government in response to events like the Paris attacks, they have often been abused.”

New York Representative Peter T. King (R) said on “Fox News Sunday” that when it relates to homeland security, “we have to put political correctness aside.”

“We have to have surveillance in Muslim communities,” said King, who serves on the House Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees. “That’s where the threat is coming from.”

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