Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice believes that the world is still a very dangerous place, and that the Edward Snowden revelations have handcuffed American intelligence in the fight against terror.
Her remarks come on the same day that an al-Qaida branch claimed responsibility for the recent attack against the Parisian satire publication Charlie Hebdo that avenged cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad. The al-Qaida group also called for more attacks against the West.
“Some of the revelations that are coming out of the Snowden revelations may deprive us of that essential element we need,” Rice said. “You need to find those suggestions of something happening before anything happens, and sometimes you have to surveil people to get it.”
Rice spoke during a luncheon at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco Wednesday.
Rice sees other threats around the world, and some of them are coming from the country that harbored Snowden — Russia. Rice portrays Vladimir Putin as a Cold War era zealot, remarking that Putin believes the biggest tragedy of the 20th century was the breakup of the Soviet Union.
Rice said she believes that an American military force should be placed in the Balkans, to protect the large numbers of Russian people who live there.
“We don’t want to tempt the megalomaniac part of Vladimir Putin to do something stupid there,” Rice said. “He may be a megalomaniac, but he’s not stupid; he will not attack an area when Americans are there.”
But Putin’s seat of power, Rice believes, appears to be secure and strengthening. Evidence for this can be found in observation that most of the intelligentsia in Russia are fleeing.
“The people who have disagreed with him are leaving; the young founder of the Russian Facebook has left the country,” Rice said. “This suggests that [Putin] is stable.”
On the subject of cybersecurity, Rice observed that more and more corporations are being hacked, but said that the business community shouldn’t be reticent about sharing information about those hacks with the government for fear that the news might drive stock prices down or damage the company’s reputation.
It’s more important to give the government the the data they need to go after the offenders, she argued. “You shouldn’t underestimate the ability of the U.S. government when it comes to fighting cyberterrorism,” Rice said. “And you want the U.S. government on your side.”
The real bad guys in the world, like ISIS, are probably not advanced enough to conduct cyberterror attacks that could do damage to major infrastructure or core information systems, Rice said. They may be able to hack single websites, but they can’t shut down power plants, for instance.
Finally, Rice had this to say about her potential political ambitions: “I don’t have the DNA to run for political office,” she said. “I love policy; I don’t love politics.”
So Jeb and Mitt can relax.