CIA remains concerned about Europe’s ability to track terrorists

CIA remains concerned about Europe’s ability to track terrorists
© Moriah Ratner

CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanFormer intelligence chiefs slam Trump for removing officials Ex-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community DOJ attorney looking into whether CIA withheld info during start of Russia probe: NYT MORE said on Wednesday that he remains concerned about European nations’ ability to track terrorists, even though some say the recent major attacks in Paris and Brussels were a wake-up call for the continent.

European intelligence services remain hindered by their divisions across and even within countries, Brennan said in remarks at the Brookings Institution. 

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Despite slow progress, he said, work remains to bring the agencies up to speed.

“I do think it’s going the right direction, but it needs to accelerate,” Brennan said.

“The Europeans have made progress, including since the horrific attacks in Paris and Belgium, but clearly more progress has to be made."

Disunity among various European intelligence and law enforcement agencies was partially blamed in the fallout from the attacks, especially the March violence in Brussels that killed 32 people.

Even within European countries, some government agencies “will not talk to each other,” Brennan said.

Critics have compared the situation to the U.S. government before 9/11, when “walls” between agencies such as the FBI and CIA prevented officials from sharing information and effectively connecting the dots about potential threats.

“We learned after 9/11 some very, very painful lessons about how the different parts of the U.S. government … need to work better together,” Brennan said on Wednesday.

But while the U.S. was able to reform its systems, however haltingly, the European Union is subject to more than two dozen different governments, all of which have their own bureaucracies and internal frictions, complicating efforts at greater collaboration.

Countries “have separate legal systems, separate information technology systems, different practices as far as how they follow through on their privacy and civil liberty obligations,” Brennan said. “So they are trying to design an architecture that will allow the timely sharing of information, but it does involve some legal policy, information technology and other types of adjustments.”