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NSA Documents Show United States Spied on Brazilian Oil Giant and Major Global $ Transactions Cooperative SWIFT


(courtesy of ocularinvasion, via Flickr CC)

We’d been waiting for the next story Glenn Greenwald said would be channeled through the Brazilian media; he’d guaranteed that the world would take notice, as it concerned industrial espionage and more.  We’d found this teaser at Fantástico, the broadcast arm of O Globo, yesterday afternoon. 

From Fantástico, in part:

Ultra-secret documents delivered by ex-analyst of the American National Security Agency Edward Snowden testified: Petrobras, the biggest Brazilian company, has also been spied upon by the US Government. Don’t miss the full report this Sunday on the Fantastic.”  They announced that program would air ‘After Oprah’, which tickled my mirth buttons.  (I am not a fan, let’s say.)

EF Beall found the story a few hours later.  Some excerpts:

One of the prime targets of American spies in Brazil is far away from the center of power – out at sea, deep beneath the waves. Brazilian oil. The internal computer network of Petrobras, the Brazilian oil giant partly owned by the state, has been under surveillance by the NSA, the National Security Agency of the United States.

These new disclosures contradict statements by the NSA denying espionage for economic purposes. [snip, and see below]

Other targets include French diplomats – with access to the private network of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France – and the SWIFT network, the cooperative that unites over ten thousand banks in 212 countries and provides communications that enable international financial transactions. All transfers of money between banks across national borders goes through SWIFT.

Names of other companies and institutions on the list were blacked out in order not to compromise operations involving targets linked to terrorism. [snip]

The documents are classified as “top-secret”, to be seen only by those named by the Americans as “Five Eyes” – the five countries allied in spying: the United States, Australia, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand. [snip]

Petrobras has two supercomputers, used mainly for seismic research – which evaluate oil reserves from samples collected at sea. This is how the company mapped the Pre-salt layer, the largest discovery of new oil reserves in the world in recent years.

There is no information on the extent of the spying, nor if it managed to access the data contained in the company’s computers. It’s clear Petrobras was a target, but no documents show exactly what information the NSA searched for. But at any rate, Petrobras has strategic knowledge of deals involving billions of dollars.

The Pre-salt oil is found at high seas, at depths of two thousand meters – below a layer of rocky salt, four kilometers below the ocean floor. Reaching this oil requires a lot of technology, and Petrobras is a world leader in deep-sea oil extraction. [snip]

Adriano Pires, a specialist in infrastructure, considers that spies could be specially interested in ocean-floor exploration technology. Lastly, another document obtained by Fantastico shows who are the spies’ clients – who gets the information obtained: American diplomats, the intelligence agencies, and the White House. It proves that spying doesn’t have as its sole purpose the fight against terrorism. On this list of objectives are also diplomatic, political and economic information.

Emptywheel calls the whole enchilda: ‘James Clapper’s Financial War on the World’.

Somehow I’d missed this from the WaPo a couple days ago: ‘‘Obama administration had restrictions on NSA reversed in 2011’  More!  More!  Unitary Executive!

But: lest you think that the NSA might be engaged in any weird hanky-panky, and may not just be spyin’ to keep you safe, DNI James Clapper’s reaction to the Espionage charges, in part:

We collect this information for many important reasons: for one, it could provide the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy. It also could provide insight into other countries’ economic policy or behavior which could affect global markets.

Our collection of information regarding terrorist financing saves lives. Since 9/11, the Intelligence Community has found success in disrupting terror networks by following their money as it moves around the globe. International criminal organizations, proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, illicit arms dealers, or nations that attempt to avoid international sanctions can also be targeted in an effort to aid America’s and our allies’ interests.

What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.

Hilariously enough, on the left sidebar of the page it says:

‘Created at the direction of the President of the United States, IC ON THE RECORD provides immediate, ongoing and direct access to factual information related to the lawful foreign surveillance activities carried out by the U.S. Intelligence Community.’

 He didn’t say nuffin’ about their illegal and Unconstitutional activities.  Again, as close to truthful as is prudent. ‘You can’t handle the truth!!!’

 What does Dilma think?  From O Globo (Bing translator):

BRASILIA. The President of the Republic, Dilma Rousseff, charged clarifications and demanded concrete steps the u.s. Government about the espionage practised against Brazilians, his own President and, now, Petrobras. In official note released on Monday, the President says that Petrobras “does not represent a threat to the security of any country. Represents, Yes, one of the greatest assets of the world’s oil and a wealth of the Brazilian people. “

For Dilma, confirmed the spying at Petrobras, “is evidenced that the motive of the attempted rape and espionage is not security or counter-terrorism, but economic and strategic interests“. The President says that “such attempts at tampering and eavesdropping on data and information are incompatible with the democratic coexistence between friendly countries, being manifestly unlawful”.

The President concluded by saying that the Brazilian Government will take “all measures to protect the country, the Government and its enterprises”.

Will Dilma keep her date with Barack Obomba at the WH State dinner?  What possible explanations could he give to satisfy her? 

 Or the rest of the planet, for that matter?

(We’ve been talking about it on this diary; loads of great and instructive comments, and I hope folks will bring some of them to this thread.)

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