Just one day after the coordinated attacks in Brussels, the resounding cry from governments, media, and national security experts is that we need less freedoms and more security.
As they did in the wake of the Paris attacks, countries across the continent rushed to tighten border security in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s bombings, which killed at least 34 people, striking the airport and a metro station.
Meanwhile, officials and so-called “terrorism experts” rushed to place the blame for the attack on Europe’s—and more specifically Belgium’s—supposedly lax border policies and restrictive information-sharing rules.
British MEP Mike Hookem declared outright that the Brussels attack “shows that Schengen free movement and lax border controls are a threat to our security.”
“Open borders,” he added, “are putting the lives of European citizens at risk.”
“The European Union needs to reinvent its security system,” declared Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. “It needs to break the stovepipes that prevent sharing information, enforcing borders and protecting citizens.”
“What we need is better cooperation, maximum cooperation between European national intelligence and security services,” Mark Demesmaeker, a Belgian parliament member of the European Conservatives, told CNBC. “We have to unite against this menace,” Demesmaeker added, referring to the Islamic State (or ISIS), which claimed responsibility for the attack.
British author and journalist Max Hastings put it even more bluntly. “Our tolerance of electronic surveillance, subject to legal and parliamentary oversight, seems a small price to pay for some measure of security against threats that nobody—today of all days—can doubt are real,” Hastings said in an address Wednesday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong.
In the United States, this fervor translated into an push for lawmakers to act quickly on controversial legislation, that, according to The Hill, would “create a national commission to explore” how the government and law enforcement could access encrypted communications.
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“Lawmakers and investigators say authorities were likely blind to the plots because of the secure technology,” The Hill’s Cory Bennett reports, “although the exact role encryption played in each incident remains unknown.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) admitted as much in a statement, saying: “We do not know yet what role, if any, encrypted communications played in these attacks…But we can be sure that terrorists will continue to use what they perceive to be the most secure means to plot their attacks.”
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