After the tragedy and outrage in Paris last week, the usual suspects are running around saying, “See? This is what happens when things go dark.” Except, of course, there's no evidence that the perpetrators used encryption and plenty of indications that they didn't. The cell phone that led authorities to Abdelhamid Abaaoud's safe house was unencrypted as were the text messages coordinating the start of the assault.
This is why calls to ban encryption are so misguided. Terrorists don't need it. https://t.co/NuryGowzl5
— Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green) November 18, 2015
As bad as Brennan and the others are, a great deal of the blame goes to the press, which, as the Washington Post reported a senior government official as saying, was lead around by nose by law enforcement. They even had breathless stories blaming Snowden and claiming the terrorists were so sophisticated they were using Play Stations to communicate. It was all nonsense, of course, as later stories reported. No play stations, no encryption just credulous journalists swallowing whole the government's baloney.
Some news outlets did remember that the United States doesn't have a Ministry of Truth and bothered to do a little investigation of their own. The aforementioned WAPO piece conceded that if we get increased surveillance out of the Paris attacks, the press will share much of the blame. The New Yorker called out Brennan and Clapper and reminded us that they aren't paragons of veracity. Both lied to Congress—Clapper under oath; why isn't he in jail?—and have consistently spread nonsense and fear in their efforts to be able to spy on everyone all day.
Brennan and his cohorts aren't idiots and they know, just as we do, that ISIS and their fellow Jihadists couldn't care less what laws a feckless Congress passes. There's plenty of open source crypto available so beating up on Apple and Google won't do a damn thing except make the rest of us less safe. Really, it's time to tell these guys to cut it out and start using the information they already have instead of whining about the fact that ordinary citizens may not want their government snooping on everything they say or do.