Tags: Edward Snowden | Emerging Threats | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | NSA/Surveillance | Syria | War on Terrorism

Jihadist Threat Mutes Debate, Action on NSA Spying

By    |   Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 06:32 PM

The heated debate about America's massive electronic spying dragnet is mostly "muted" as foreign jihadists rush in to fight alongside Islamic State (ISIS) militants, Foreign Policy reports.

The extent of the National Security Agency's electronic snooping — first revealed in documents snatched from NSA by ex-contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 — shocked the West.

That was then.

Today, legislation that would restrict the spy agency's reach — a version of which passed the House — is stuck in the Senate.

"There was a lot of movement on surveillance reform in Congress  . . .  but it has been totally overtaken by ISIS," Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University, told Foreign Policy.

"The Senate will still have to pass something, but the urgency is gone."

Columbia University law professor Matthew Waxman told the magazine that the "huge debates" in Europe about over-the-top U.S. spying seem "to be muted now."

Vladeck told Foreign Policy that the West has gone from a "reactionary punishment paradigm to a prevention paradigm," though "many of the restraints don't come with [legal] safeguards" built into the traditional criminal justice system.

Belgium, Britain, France, and Germany are all updating laws and policies to bolster their governments' surveillance authority to block jihadists from traveling to join the Islamic State, the magazine says.

For example, British officials proposed a law to strip suspected terrorists of their citizenship, while the French can now seize suspected militants' passports or identification cards, the magazine says.

"If they come back, you have to have very tight surveillance because these people are dangerous — very dangerous," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said at the Council on Foreign Relations, the magazine reports.

"You have to establish a channel between the families and the authorities in order to make it possible for the families . . . to alarm" the authorities, he said.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the magazine there are efforts there too to strengthen intelligence cooperation to deal with foreign fighters returning to their homelands from the Middle East — even as it weighs the risks to civil liberties.

"We are struggling with that issue," he told Foreign Policy. "The mood is clear that we are faced with a clear and real threat from these foreign fighters and that we need to take measures to counter that threat, including through intensified exchange of intelligence and information."

"[Y]ou will need to strike the right balance [between] on the one hand the necessary for surveillance but on the other hand also civil liberties . . . it's really not easy," he said.

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The heated debate about America's massive electronic spying dragnet is mostly "muted" as foreign jihadists rush in to fight alongside Islamic State (ISIS) militants, Foreign Policy reports.
electronic, spying, jihadists, legislation
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2014-32-24
Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 06:32 PM
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