There is no record of US mass surveillance ever preventing a large terror attack

CIA Director John Brennan wants you to think the Paris attacks were Snowden's fault — the "hand wringing" over mass surveillance has ended his agency's ability to "thwart" terrorists attacks "before they're carried out." There's only one problem with that: there's no evidence that the US's mass surveillance programs have ever prevented a major terrorist attack.

An internal, unclassified DHS document confirms this: "terror arrests between January 2014 and September 2015 linked to ISIS were largely of people trying to travel abroad, provide material support, or plan attacks that were essentially imaginary."

If the CIA and NSA are really stopping domestic terrorist attacks, they're being awfully quiet about it. Either they're not bringing the terrorists to justice, or they're silently executing them (why?).

The only incident the NSA has ever disclosed in which its domestic metadata collection program played a key role involved a San Diego man who was convicted for transferring $8,500 to Al-Shabab in Somalia—the terror group responsible for a mass shooting at a mall in Kenya. And the metadata program is the only one that has been reigned in since the Snowden disclosures.

The three other terrorism cases NSA cited as being warrantless surveillance success stories were debunked. Either the government could have gotten a warrant, or it received a tip from British intelligence, or it was a case of fraud, not terrorism.

A White House panel concluded in December 2013 that the NSA's bulk collection of Americans' telephone information was "not essential in preventing attacks." A member of the panel took it one step further, when he told NBC News that there were no examples of the NSA stopping "any [terror attacks] that might have been really big" using the program.

U.S. Mass Surveillance Has No Record of Thwarting Large Terror Attacks, Regardless of Snowden Leaks [Jenna McLaughlin/The Intercept]