CIA Director John Brennan: Paris Attacks ‘Not a Surprise’

CIA Director John Brennan addresses a meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York, Friday, March 13, 2015.
AP Photo/Richard Drew

CIA Director John Brennan said that the Paris terrorist attacks are “not a surprise.”

The Central Intelligence Agency director was speaking on Monday at the Center for Strategic International Studies when he was asked how intelligence authorities did not manage to thwart the Paris attacks that killed more than 100 people.

“Now, I know the French are going to be looking at what might have slipped through the cracks,” Brennan said. “But I can tell you that it’s not a surprise that this attack was carried out from the standpoint that we did have strategic warning. We knew that these plans by ISIL were underway, looking at Europe in particular as the venue for carrying out these attacks.”

Brennan told the audience that he does not believe that America should close its borders in the wake of the Paris attack:

I know that there is a rush by some to say that borders should be closed–that we should isolate ourselves. That is inconsistent in what I think our societies have been founded on for the last several hundreds of years. What we need to do, though, is to be mindful of risks associated with the individuals that are flowing, making sure that we’re taking the appropriate steps to prevent and to understand exactly who they might be. But I don’t think what we want to do is to just dramatically seal our borders because, again, that is not something that is sustainable from a social, cultural, trade, economic, political standpoint.

Brennan said that the failure in intelligence has much to do with the flood of migrants entering European countries and the sophistication of terrorists.

“A lot of our partners right now in Europe are facing a lot of challenges in terms of the numbers of individuals who have travelled to Syria and Iraq and back again,” Brennan said, adding:

And so their ability to monitor and surveil individuals is under strain. But I must say that there has been a significant increase in the operational security of the number of these operatives in the terrorist networks, as they have gone to school in what it is they need to do to keep their activities concealed from the authorities.

Brennan also discussed the intelligence gaps and the need for Europe and the United States to examine the security gaps that may exist:

As I mentioned, there are a lot technological capabilities that are available right now that make it exceptionally difficult, both technically as well as legally, for intelligence security services to have the insight they need to uncover it. I do think this is the time for particularly Europe, as well as here in the United States, for us to take a look and see whether or not there have been some inadvertence or intentional gaps that have been created in the ability of intelligence and security services to protect the people that they are asked to service.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.