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Ex-CIA Officer: Paris Attacks Boosting Support for National Security in US

© Flickr / Jonathan McIntoshSurveillance cameras
Surveillance cameras - Sputnik International
Former CIA counterterrorism officer John Kiriakou claims that the terrorist attacks in Paris have led to increasing demands by American politicians to extend the powers of US domestic surveillance.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The terrorist attacks in Paris have led to increasing demands by American politicians to extend the powers of US domestic surveillance, former CIA counterterrorism officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou told Sputnik.

"I do believe that the attacks in Paris will increase the calls and political pressures to extend the powers of the national security state in the United States and elsewhere," Kiriakou told Sputnik on Wednesday.

The calls, Kiriakou noted, were not part of any coordinated conspiracy, but reflected genuine prejudices that were widely held by Republican presidential candidates and their supporters.

"Many conservatives in our presidential race really believe that a national security state is in the interests of the American people. I think myself that argument is bunk and that it is unconstitutional, but it is widely accepted," he argued.

Political pressures in the race for the Republican presidential nomination were also driving candidates to take more extreme positions in the hope these would resonate with voters, Kiriakou observed.

"We are at a point in the Republican race where many candidates are so desperate to increase their support that they will go to extremes and enter into a bidding war with each other about who can be tougher on the national security issue… [They] are in a race to see who can be most disrespectful of civil liberties," Kiriakou said.

However, competing Democrats were not immune to these pressures either, he pointed out.

"[Former Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton has spoken in the past in support of comprehensive surveillance policies. She also called Edward Snowden a traitor and said he should return to the United States to be prosecuted under the law," Kiriakou maintained.

Moreover, Clinton is on the record in expressing her support for extended surveillance; she supported the 2001 Patriot Act at the time while still in the Senate, the analyst said.

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However, the remaining two Democratic presidential candidates had stronger track records in opposing excessive surveillance powers.

"Sanders has been good on the subject of civil liberties in the past [and former Maryland Governor Martin] O’Malley has intimated that he opposes such a thing," Kiriakou stated.

On the Republican side, Senator Rand Paul is the only candidate who has consistently defended constitutional rights at the cost of support among Republican voters, according to the opinion polls, Kiriakou insisted.

"[Paul] cannot seem to break through 3 three percent support," he said.

But extending government surveillance powers, Kiriakou warned, would ultimately alienate far more people and strengthen terrorists in the long term.

"This is exactly what terrorists want to further their goals — that they can succeed in eroding the personal rights of the citizens of the United States, France and other countries. And when this happens, the terrorists win," he concluded.

Kiriakou, an associate fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies, was the first person to reconfirm the waterboarding interrogation policies of the CIA in 2007 and in 2012 was jailed for two years on a charge of revealing confidential information.

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