Obama: No 'specific' intel warning of Paris attacks

Obama: No 'specific' intel warning of Paris attacks
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The U.S. did not have any “specific” warning about Friday evening’s terror attacks in Paris, President Obama said on Monday, raising questions about the ineffectiveness of global intelligence powers.

“I am not aware of anything that was specific in the sense that it would’ve given a premonition about a particular action in Paris that would allow for law enforcement or military actions to disrupt it,” Obama said during a press conference in Antalya, Turkey, three days after at least 129 people were killed by adherents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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“Every day we have threat streams coming through the intelligence transom,” he added. “The concerns about potential ISIL attacks in the west have been there for over a year now, and they come through periodically.”

ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is an alternate acronym for ISIS.

“There were no specific mentions of this particular attack that would give us a sense of something that we could give French authorities, for example, or act by ourselves.”

The lack of effective intelligence warning about Friday’s plot — which appeared to have been highly coordinated and been in the works for months — is likely to invite extra scrutiny on American and European intelligence agencies.

National security hawks seem ready to blame the lack of effective intelligence on privacy-focused legal and technological reforms in the years since Edward Snowden’s leaks about global surveillance. Critics of Snowden say that information he revealed allowed terrorists to “go to school” on government efforts to track them.

“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 make our ability — collectively, internationally — to find these terrorists much more challenging,” CIA Director John Brennan said earlier Monday morning, in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The attack, Brennan added, was “not a surprise,” he said, because the U.S. had “strategic warning” about ISIS’s willingness to attack other countries.   

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) called for restoring the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, which is set to expire later this month. The program was revealed by Snowden in 2013 and became a subject of intense debate on Capitol Hill. 

Reports over the weekend have indicated that the extremists involved in Friday night’s attacks communicated with each other using encryption technologies that allowed them to mask their messages from authorities. If confirmed, the news could lead to a new battle over technological protections that make it impossible for anyone — even intelligence agents or police with a warrant — to intercept users’ communications.