Brennan: CIA Must Rely on Social Media in the Middle East

“We need to educate the public about the new digital environment and how we the government have an obligation to our society to be able to leverage whatever capabilities or tools we have to tap and pulse that digital environment in a way that’s not going to infringe on individual civil liberties and privacy -- but at the same time, be able to identify information that we need in order to keep this country safe,” Brennan said.

“We make sure that we keep our children safe from pedophiles, we make sure that we’re able to do it from a law enforcement standpoint in terms of people who are a menace. From a national security standpoint, that digital environment is so rich with so much activity, just the way we have police on the streets of cities and towns, we need to have a legal framework and a policy construct that will allow us to appropriately tap into the information and knowledge that is out there in order to keep this country safe,” he added.

Brennan asked the attendees to help the CIA convince lawmakers to enact an updated legal framework for intelligence gathering.

“We need to adapt our legal systems,” he said. “A lot of our departmental structures and legal frameworks were built in the 20th century. The 21st century is so different. So just like CIA is recognizing that we need to adapt to the 21st century, I think there a lot of other environments that need to adapt as well.”