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NSA Tapped Personal Communications of Brazilian President and Others

Brazil’s O Globo reported yesterday (I translate):

The US National Security Agency has monitored the content of telephone calls, emails, and text messages of President Dilma Rousseff and of a yet indefinite number of “key advisors” of the Brazilian government.


Besides Dilma, in recent months the President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto and nine members of his team were spied upon, when he was only a candidate for the office.

The article says that these items come from a June, 2012 NSA internal presentation, a record of which Glenn Greenwald obtained from Edward Snowden.

The presentation was entitled “Intelligency”(?) filtering your data, Brazil and Mexico case studies.” It consisted of 24 slides which evidently did not include actual examples of the intercepted communications. It was intended for the use of governments in the “Five Eyes” countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, and NZ). The presenter ended with congratulations on the success of the program.

It seems useful to have this revelation at this moment, for more general reasons than its specific content. Recently, the UK government forced the Guardian to destroy the Snowden records kept in its London offices, and it was revealed the other day that it has asked the New York Times to do the same with material in its possession. Meanwhile, last Saturday the Obama administration suddenly decided that it needed Congress’s input before undertaking a limited military action in Syria; of course that means that Congress will spend a week or so on that issue when it returns next week, and will not have time to discuss the various bills to rein in the NSA that are in the works before the budget crunch arrives later this month.

Obama and the Five Eyes may yet succeed in ending Snowden revelations in the Guardian, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and maybe even in Germany’s Der Spiegel, as well as in squelching significant discussion in the US. But they are unlikely to stop O Globo.

[Note: I’m still reading the article — an appropriate project for “o dia do trabalho” — and may add more later. But I want to get this much posted.]

Added 11:30 Eastern: The article also gives some technical details (naming the programs that are involved in the surveillance). It says that according to Greenwald’s interpretation the goal in the Brazilian case is to identify just who are Rousseff’s confidantes. It includes a statement against the surveillance after consulting with Rousseff on the part of Brazil’s Interior Minister Eduardo Cardozo, who, however, says they will wait until the allegation is confirmed before deciding on a course of action.

But I still have more to read.

Added 12:15 PM Eastern: The article cites two more Snowden-Greenwald documents. The first of these describes a power-point presentation entitled “identifying challenges for the future,” also meant to be seen only by the Five Eyes, which asks whether a number of countries including Brazil and Mexico are likely to be “friends, enemies, or problems” during the period 2014-2019. It identifies Brazil and Turkey in particular as emerging nations that are capable of “creating regional stress.”

I’ll get to the last document in a while.

Added 12:55 PM Eastern. The last document reveals that there is a subdivision of NSA responsible for monitoring trade and military issues in countries important to the US economy, so that the US considers “strategic partners,” including Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The article concludes by saying that the embassies of the US and Mexico declined comment on the story, and observing that Rousseff is scheduled to meet with Obama in the US in October.

Corrections 8:15 PM Eastern: The documents have no specific examples for Rousseff, but do for Peña Nieto; Eduardo Cardozo is Brazil’s Justice Minister, not Interior Minister.

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E. F. Beall

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