"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."
At least he chose the word "seems" and didn't use "is." Good choice, Mr. Hastings.
Whether or not the threats are 'real' is not where any doubts are to be found. Attacks happen, they're very real, and they are on the rise. Doubts are entirely warranted in regards to what we're told of the who and the why behind these attacks, and what must be done to stop them... especially when the stakes are so high.
Assuming this was carried out by radicalized Muslims, what would it have taken to coordinate this attack? Here's what: Two guys meet up in a park in Brussels without their phones as they know better than that. One says, "let's blow up some stuff." The other says, "sounds good... how about the airport and the metro? How's March 22nd sound?" The one says, "that works for me. I'll make the up the devices in my apartment and meet you here at the same time next week to give you yours and show you how to detonate it. We'll figure out what time to attack then and sync our watches." The other replies, "awesome, looking forward to it. See you next week."
How would accessing encrypted communications, increasing CCTV surveillance, snooping on everyone's phone calls and emails, facilitating more information exchange between security bureaucracies and restricting the free movement of people around Europe have prevented this 'coordination' of the attack? The short answer is, it wouldn't have. Preventing attacks is not what these changes are about. Nobody likes to point out that the more of these changes that are made, the more frequent the attacks seem to come. But hey, at least it would be 'subject to legal and parliamentary oversight'... so we can all breath a sigh of relief. There's none better to entrust the freedoms your ancestors have struggled and died for than lawyers and self-serving bureaucrats.