Brazilian President Snubs Obama: How US Cyber Espionage will Destroy the Internet

The USG Open Source Center reports on Brazilian press reaction to President Dilma Roussef’s decision to cancel her state visit to Washington DC this fall, after revelations by Edward Snowden that the US National Security Agency not only intensively spied on all Brazilians online and engaged in industrial espionage but that special efforts were made to spy on the president herself.

Brazil is now the world’s 6th largest economy at $2 trillion a year, and its economy is bigger than that of Britain. Its middle class has doubled in size in the past decade. Brazil’s major trading partner is China, followed by the European Union and then the US (trade with the US in 2010 was $60 bn annually). China has more investments in Brazil than does the US.

Roussef intends to denounce massive US cyber espionage in her speech at the United Nations meeting later this month in New York. Most worrying, the Brazilian government appears determined to have all Brazilian email and web traffic stay inside the country on local servers, so as to avoid going through the NSA’s custody (the NSA put sniffers on fiber optic cables around the world to extract all data passing through them, including emails, web browsing and telephone calls).

The internet works because each node or connection point is equidistant from all other nodes or connection points. If national bottlenecks are created, it could destroy net neutrality and interfere with international searching and communication. By being greedy for big global data, the NSA may have killed the goose that lays the golden egg.

At the same time, knowledge of NSA tactics encourages other governments also to put their populations under intensive electronic surveillance. The US is the ultimate bad example.

The OSC report:

President Rousseff Cancels State Visit to Washington –

The Brazilian broadcast and printed media granted broad coverage to the imbroglio involving US electronic media surveillance reportedly focused on Brazilian targets including President Dilma Rousseff, and the impending announcement of her decision to cancel or not a planned trip to the United States. In the early afternoon Rousseff announced her decision to cancel the trip.

Tania Monteiro writes in Sao Paulo Agencia Estado that according to Planalto Palace the atmosphere is not right for a state visit to Washington in view of espionage allegations involving the US Government. In Rousseff’s assessment the United States did not offer satisfactory explanations of allegations that surfaced in the media. President Rousseff plans to criticize the surveillance claims when she addresses the opening session of the UN General Assembly.

Tai Nalon reports in Sao Paulo Folha de Sao Paulo that President Rousseff stated that the absence of an internal investigation into the espionage allegations prompted her to cancel the planned visit. The presidential communique states that “the Government of Brazil is aware of the importance and diversity of the bilateral relationship grounded in respect and mutual trust,” reads the statement. “The illegal practice of interception of communications and data on citizens, companies, as well as members of Brazil’s administration constitute a serious fault that assails national sovereignty and individual rights, and is therefore incompatible with democratic relations between two friendly countries.”

Rousseff also expressed confidence in an adequate solution to the matter to allow the visit to take place as soon as possible to advance building “our strategic partnership to even higher levels.” Prior to the release of Rousseff announcement Carlos Alexandre pondered in Brasilia Correio Braziliense that the likely cancellation would not have any impact on Brazil-US relations or on US security and surveillance policies.

42 Responses

  1. The NSA is part of the corrupt Military Industrial Complex, the billionaires war game. What else can you expect?

    And the US Congress is extremely corrupted. They no longer represent the average American. They represent the rich since half of Congress are millionaires and the other half are becoming millionaires. America is loosing its middle class and integrity. America sets the best example of how to get rich and ugly.

    Obama is just another rich kid with a forked tongue without heart. All show and smooth talk, “signifying nothing”.

  2. I’m still waiting for the response on spying on the United Nations, being it’s against international law. I’m surprised the UN has been so quite about it, which just goes to show the organization has not only lost vast amounts of power, but is purely controlled by the US.

  3. If you want to keep your emails private just write the email and put it into your draft folder. The recipient will know your email pass word and will bring up your email account and read the draft. After he or she reads the draft email its deleted, thus, an email has been exchanged but never actually sent!! You can have a private email account for yourself and several other accounts for your friends. They do the same of course, all having the appropriate pass words. The draft email can be heavily encrypted as also. So NSA, see if you can get past that one !!

    • no this does not work. email services pass the drafts through their servers. this was Petraeus’s technique, which failed.

    • If people actually think this might work, it doesn’t bode well. Seriously, if you are using two different computers in two locations, how on earth do you think you can both see the same ‘drafts’ folder unless all that data is being stored on a centralised server?

      If you understand that, but think that the interception only occurs between ‘send’ and ‘receive’, you are still horribly mistaken.

      Simple truth: If some text is sent to your computer, over the internet, then it can be, and most likely *is* captured by the NSA along the way. They have explicitly described how they intercept and store the contents of the ‘screen’ that Google sends you when you view your inbox and other folders.

      Even if you connect to Google using HTTPS, so the stream is encrypted, it doesn’t matter. The NSA has described how it does a ‘man in the middle’ attack to get the keys necessary to decrypt that data without you or Google knowing.

      It’s all *much worse* than you think.

  4. Rousseff’s cancellation of her state visit to the US is more an attempt to shore up her waning support in Brazil rather than a principled snub at the US. There have been huge demonstrations against her government in Brazil for wasting money preparing for the World Cup and Olympics while ignoring the real needs of the people. With her popularity taking a dive, this “snub” is the old tactic of diverting Brazilians’ attention to a perceived external threat and away from her own internal difficulties.

    This, too, shall pass. Both Brazil and the US have too much at stake to allow Rousseff’s pique to interfere with our relationship. It will be a mere blip on the radar screen.

    • Ordinarily I would agree, but Brazil is a special case because of recent events. The anger at US intervention in the whole continent is still very strong, but the recent explosion in demonstrations in Brazil has left the government walking a *very* thin line. They *have* to placate the public so the World Cup and Olympics will go ahead and be successful, so they simply can’t afford to have another mass movement flare up.

      Last time it was something as trivial as a small bus fare increase that triggered massive unrest. If they don’t show they are serious about the NSA issue it could easily flare up again, closer to the big events.

      So, ordinarily you would be right but Brazil is feeling unique pressures from several important directions. It may well be that truly angering the US could end up being the least damaging action they could take.

      • @Neil

        It is a mistake to lump Brazil together with other South American Countries.

        Donna Hrinak, former ambassador to Brazil unde Clinton, put it perfectly: anti-American sentiment in Brazil is mile-wide and inch-deep. People might be upset, but not enough to take to the streets. There are lots of other topics on the minds of Brazilians right now, and this particular issue is not top priority on people’s heads right now, despite being worthy of some attention.

    • Yes and No. International politics are driven by internal dynamics, yes. But at this time there was actually very little public attention to this particular issue, the biggest trial in the history of the county is still happening, so people aren’t THAT focused on this particular visit of state.

      • mmmm…

        I am brazilian. You heard about “national pride”. We have a lot. Dilma go to a ball with Obama was to us be a total “avacalhação”.

        Can you show us a minimal respect?

  5. This highlights the total failure of critical thinking ability on the part of the government overlords.
    No vision, no conscience, no broad view of morality; just security at all costs with no apparent thought to unintended consequences.
    The problem is of course without critical thinking skills, nobody (in the NSA) could see the ultimate outcome of this closeted government speak.
    I couldn’t possibly give the NSA any credit for an intentional destruction of the World Wide Web; “they” just don’t get it, so the result is, well, unexpected consequences, duh!
    If it weren’t so tragic, it would be, almost funny.

    • We’d be so lucky if they were thinking “security at all costs.” It’s more like “my paycheque at all costs”.

      The corporate state has reduced us all to wage slaves constantly worrying about our economic futures and so too many people “buy into” the system in order to obtain it.

  6. Oh, and kudos to Dilma Roussef for standing up to the bully of “American Hemisphere”.
    Hell, most countries fold under the onslaught of U.S. “diplomatic” (Ha, ha) pressure…

    • The US may be the bully, but Brazil is no angel, either, and I caution against gloating about this snub.

      I am angry about the way that the US interacts with its neighbors in the Americas, angry at Obama for not following through with his campaign promise to take a different approach in the region, and angry at Hilary Clinton for being so arrogant at the head of the State Department.

      However, I am also angry at the way that the Snowden leaks have set back international diplomacy in general, and I think it is dangerous that nations are refusing to engage in diplomacy because of their moral outrage when the reality is that few are really any better than the US and would likely act in the same way if they had the means.

      For their part, the Brazilian dictatorship provided vital assistance to the US during Operation Condor, helping to overthrow democratically elected leaders and escalating the violence in the battle to stamp out communism throughout South America. The Brazilian Intelligence Agency is still dominated by military authoritarians who have spied on political opponents as recently as the previous administration. And in response to the recent wave of protests, they have begun spying on social networks.
      see link to stratrisks.com

      This issue of Internet balkanization is more disturbing fallout of the NSA spying revelations that might have been dealt with more delicately, had the reporting been done more responsibly (remember, Glenn Greenwald unleashed the report about spying on Brazil and Mexico just after his partner had been detained in London and he had threatened revenge).

      Techdirt has this to say:
      link to techdirt.com

      “This is just what many people feared: that the leaks about the NSA’s massive surveillance activities around the world — including economic espionage — will provide the pretext repressive regimes need in order to take complete technical control of the Internet in their countries, rather than continuing to acquiesce in its global governance, as at present. And so all the efforts by Western countries at the recent World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to stop precisely that kind of balkanization will have been in vain.”

      This goes way beyond the issue of constitutionality of collecting metadata of US citizens inside the United States – an issue where the leaks have had a positive effect. That nations spy on other nations is actually not something previously unknown, and the outing of the spying only serves the purpose of playing into the domestic politics, as Roussef works to regain popularity after the recent protests. Populist bluster against the big, bad bogyman is always good for poll numbers in this part of the world. I like Roussef and don’t blame her for playing the populist card, but if the result of all this ends up allowing more authoritarian factions in her government to ride on the tailcoats of the outrage and gain power, it would be very bad for Brazil.

      • Julie, I was with you on your first two paragraphs, then you blew it:

        “However, I am also angry at the way that the Snowden leaks have set back international diplomacy in general,…”

        Snowden revealed the hypocrisy and chicanery in international diplomacy. It he set that form of diplomacy back – good! We are now more aware of how our government works and the American people should, accordingly, be less willing to be lied to. Note: “should” and not, unfortunately, “will.”

        “For their part, the Brazilian dictatorship provided vital assistance to the US during Operation Condor,…”

        The current leaders of Brazil may have serious shortcomings, but they were just children when Operation Condor (supported by the US government) was defiling Latin American, so that sordid story has little relevance to current events.

        As for Balkanization of the Internet, that remains to be seen. The American people can raise their voices loud enough (as they did on the Syria issue) to keep it free, but that also remains to be seen.

        “This goes way beyond the issue of constitutionality of collecting metadata of US citizens inside the United States – an issue where the leaks have had a positive effect.”

        Now that this element of corruption has been exposed, perhaps a few more people will wake up and demand an end to it. But don’t bet on that one.

      • “This issue of Internet balkanization is more disturbing fallout of the NSA spying revelations that might have been dealt with more delicately, had the reporting been done more responsibly …”

        How, pray tell, might that have been done? The way our fawning corporate media does it?

      • “… the reality is that few are really any better than the US and would likely act in the same way if they had the means.”

        Unfortunately, that is true, and that is in great part due to their people wallowing in ignorance. Thanks to Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers we are less ignorant. It does make it difficult for the people who still prefer to be lied to, but that’s life.

  7. “the likely cancellation would not have any impact on Brazil-US relations or on US security and surveillance policies.”

    Bury the lede at the end of the story, of course. More of the same, and worse to come.

    You can see why some folks curry favor with the Beast… kind of like David Spade in “Coneheads”…

  8. You over-fund the Pentagon and you get war. You over-fund spies and you get over-spying! What a disaster!

  9. Dilma Roussef is of Bulgarian descent and was a leftist activist that was held in custody by the Brazilian security forces in the early 1970s where she claims she had been tortured.

    Later, in 1975, Brazil became a member of the Operation Condor intelligence network that resulted in the abduction, torture, and killing of tens of thousands of civilians for suspected anti-government activity in Brazil and other South American nations in the panhandle of that continent. Operation Condor was organized and supplied by the United States largely under the direction of CIA Associate Deputy Director of Operations Ted Shackley.

    It does not suprise me, give this history, that Roussef would gravitate toward China on political or economic issues.

    • Operation Condor was organized by Chilean intelligence chief Manuel Contreras under General Pinochet. Chile took the lead in organizing and setting the agenda. The CIA had nothing to do with either organizing it or supplying it, although the CIA did monitor its activities.

      Operation Condor was established in October 1975, when Manuel Contreras invited the intelligence chiefs of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia to Santiago for a meeting, at which time they agreed to coordinate their efforts to fight leftist guerrillas who were operating in their countries. At a subsequent meeting in Santiago in May 1976, Brazil joined the original five to review their efforts and discuss further long-range cooperation.

      The United States was not a participant at Operation Condor’s inception or subsequent meetings. This was totally a Southern Cone operation spearheaded by Chile. All of this has been thoroughly documented by Peter Kornbluth of the National Security Archive Project and is detailed in the book “The Pinochet File,” as well as in other publications.

      • The CIA had nothing to do with either organizing it or supplying it, although the CIA did monitor its activities.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        That is wholly inaccurate and doesn’t represent the actual events on the ground.
        Yours is only half of a very dark time in U.S. hemispheric involvement. September 11, 1973 was America’s overthrow of Salvador Allende; it’s been very well documented and reported.

        • “That is wholly inaccurate and doesn’t represent the actual events on the ground. Yours is only half of a very dark time in U.S. hemispheric involvement. September 11, 1973 was America’s overthrow of Salvador Allende; it’s been very well documented and reported.”

          I would be glad to entertain your challenge to my comment on Operation Condor. Unfortunately, you have presented no facts or evidence to which I can respond.

          Regarding Allende’s overthrow, one of the Left’s enduring myths is that the United States was behind the planning and execution of General Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup in Chile. As was brought out in Senator Frank Church’s 1975 Senate hearings on the CIA’s intelligence activities, the CIA did provide $8 million over a three-year period to various opposition groups in Chile to keep them going, including labor unions, the anti-Allende newspaper El Mercurio (which Allende was attempting to shut down by having the nationalized banks withhold credit for newsprint), and others. Nevertheless, the U.S. provided neither funding nor assistance in the planning and execution of the coup itself. Although Embassy officials had evidence that something was afoot, they were not privy to the timing and actual plan itself.

          Anyone who has served in Chile and studied the 1973 coup would find it laughable to hear someone insist that the Chilean military would need assistance from the U.S. The Chilean military was based on the Prussian model, was (and is) a very professional military, and was perfectly capable of planning and executing the coup on its own.

          That the United States was glad to see Allende overthrown is undeniable. It does not follow, however, that the United States engineered the action that led to his overthrow.

      • From the Wikipedia site on Operation Condor:

        (1)”Although the United States was not a member of the Condor consortium, documentation shows that the United States provided key organizational, finanacial and technical assistance to the operation…….”;

        (2)Manuel Contreras was a paid CIA contact until 1977;

        (3)Contreras told the Chilean Supreme Court in 2005 that the CIA was involved in the Letelier assassination.

        Additionally, Luis Posada Carrilles, a former CIA officer, and Michael Townley, a former CIA contract agent, were linked to Operation Condor. Posada, now in his 80s, currently lives in the Miami area as a revered anti-Castro exile activist and Townley became a federally-protected witness following his conviction in the Washington D.C. deaths of Ronni Moffit and Orlando Letelier.

        • There are far more accurate and dependable resources on Operation Condor and events in Chile under Pinochet than Wikipedia, which at times resembles nothing so much as an Encyclopedia of Misinformation. I would suggest you begin with Peter Kornbluh’s book “The Pinochet File,” based on his in-depth research with the National Security Archives’ project on Chile. There are other resources, but that would be a good start.

          It must be tempting to look up topics on Wikipedia, and then present the information as if one had sagely known it all along. The problem is when Wikipedia gets it wrong or incomplete, as it often does, it is reflected in one’s comments. Better to actually read the accounts of political scientists and historians who actually know something about the topic under discussion.

      • An atypical “Bill” comment, as this is a bald-faced lie instead of a straw man or a begged question. Other commenters have pointed out its untruth. It would be accurate to say: the CIA sought to preserve some deniability by distancing itself from its involvement with Operation Condor, efforts which included misinformation peddled by Peter Kornbluth.

        Chilean CIA Head of Station Raymond Warren was knee-deep in Operation Condor from its inception, with an emphasis on contract killing, like the 1974 murder of Carlos Prats and his wife by the Chilean neo-fascist terrorist organization Patria y Libertad, some of whom trained in the USA at the United States International Police Academy.

        • “An atypical “Bill” comment, as this is a bald-faced lie instead of a straw man or a begged question. Other commenters have pointed out its untruth. It would be accurate to say: the CIA sought to preserve some deniability by distancing itself from its involvement with Operation Condor, efforts which included misinformation peddled by Peter Kornbluth.”

          Please provide your sources that led you to believe it is a “bald-faced lie,” and what is the evidence you possess indicating Peter Kornbluh was part of the plot to sow misinformation.

    • This is from John Pilger, one of the world’s most distinguished investigative reporters:

      “The most important anniversary of the year was the 40th anniversary of 11 September 1973 – the crushing of the democratic government of Chile by General Augusto Pinochet and Henry Kissinger, then US secretary of state. The National Security Archive in Washington has posted new documents that reveal much about Kissinger’s role in an atrocity that cost thousands of lives.

      “In declassified tapes, Kissinger is heard planning with President Richard Nixon the overthrow of President Salvador Allende. They sound like Mafiosi thugs. Kissinger warns that the “model effect” of Allende’s reformist democracy “can be insidious”. He tells CIA director Richard Helms: “We will not let Chile go down the drain”, to which Helms replies: “I am with you.” With the slaughter under way, Kissinger dismisses a warning by his senior officials of the scale of the repression. Secretly, he tells Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West.”” – link to counterpunch.org

      If I recall correctly, Kissinger’s role in the overthrow of Allende was one of the charges included by Christopher Hitchens in his book, “The Trial of Henry Kissinger.”

      • Like many on the Left, Mr. Bodden, you continue to confuse the attempts by the Nixon Administration to undermine Allende by supporting unions, the newspaper El Mercurio, and others, as well as thwarting IMF loans, throughout the three years of Allende’s time in office, with the actual planning and execution of the coup. Senator Frank Church (no friend of Nixon) held hearings on the CIA and concluded that there was no CIA involvement in the planning and execution of the coup itself.

        As I stated in my comment above, it is an enduring myth of the Left that the US planned and helped execute the coup. That was not the case. The US attempted to undermine Allende and provided $8 million over the three year period leading up to the coup. Obviously the US was pleased to see Allende go. But the question is what part did the US play in the coup itself, and the answer is, it did not play a role.

        Your quote from John Pilger is of a conversation not long after Allende took office, when the Nixon Administration was trying to come up with a plan to destabilize Chile. It does not refer to any US plan for a coup.

      • “If I recall correctly, Kissinger’s role in the overthrow of Allende was one of the charges included by Christopher Hitchens in his book, “The Trial of Henry Kissinger.”

        Christopher Hitchens certainly had it in for Henry Kissinger, but Hitchens was all over the map. You may recall that Hitchens supported the Iraq war and was one of the first voices to refer to Jihadists as “Islamofascism.” I wouldn’t put much faith in anything Hitchens wrote, as you never knew what his position would be the following day.

    • @Bill:

      My reference to Wikipedia was for the sake of brevity and convenience.

      However, I would defer to the findings of the esteemed authors John Dinges and Robert Parry, who separately conducted intensive journalistic invesigations of the Chilean situation and Operation Condor and whose observations are mirrored by the facts set forth in my post.

      I do agree that Operation Condor was organized in Chile in 1975 under Contreras – the condor being the national bird of Chile. But there was a very shadowy relationship between Operation Condor and our own government.

      The 1973 overthrow of Allende resulted in U.S. Senate testimony from Richard Helms during his confirmation hearing as U.S. ambassador to Iran about the purportedly minimal inactive role the CIA had in the action. That testimony was rebutted by the Church Committee and Helms was later convicted of lying to Congress.

      There was undoubtedly a close relationship between Operation Condor and a number of Americans who had a history of a relationship with the CIA – and Posada and Townley are prime examples of this.

  10. I think you really underestimate or misunderstand how collusion works. Most, if not all these security chiefs were trained at war colleges in the US. It doesn’t matter if the CIA was present at the founding or subsequent meetings of the Condor group. It supplied strategic and technical knowledge at the least. More importantly, US training centers provided a way for security chiefs from throughout South America to develop lasting political/military and social relationships with each other and American intelligence. That’s how real power works: indirectly.

    • The CIA monitored Operation Condor, and after it was established provided some technical assistance to individual countries. But it did not provide “strategic” knowledge to the group. The intelligence chiefs of the member states knew far more about the leftist guerrilla groups operating within their respective countries than the CIA or any other outside source.

      You have fallen into the trap of ascribing everything that happened in Latin America to some nefarious CIA plot. In doing so, you fail to recognize that Latin Americans are agents in their own right and have made decisions, good or bad, on their own. To deny them their own agency is a form of “soft” discrimination that says more about you than it does about them.

      • Ah, so we move from merely “monitoring” to “technical assistance” before setting up a straw man. Indeed the main force of agency does come from actors in the various Latin American countries, actors who receive training, weapons, payment, intelligence, and/or cover from the CIA. They use this “technical assistance” to torture and murder people who would like a less dire standard of living or some measure of democratic influence on politics, both improvements which the CIA and much of the US equestrian class opposes.

        • Technical assistance to Latin American public security services was being provided even before Operation Condor was initiated. The fact is Condor was a Chilean-inspired and organized operation. The CIA did not set it up.

        • Anyone interested in context might do well to read up on the “School of the Americas,” which has provided all kinds of “technical assistance” to what are kindly called “authoritarians” in this polite space. One running tally is kept at link to soaw.org

          Bill, Anonymous Bill, has implied he was in Chile and has direct knowledge of what transpired during that “victory for Western Democracy.” Huh.

          The CIA is more like an immune-system problem, where the killer T-cells kind of run wild, attack healthy tissue, and leave the rest of the body open to various nasty infections…

  11. Juan, Canada is still the US’ largest trading partner, who knows for how long though

  12. the naivete about the CIA and Chile is most astounding. but that is what disinformation is about and shows how effectively it works.

    the thing with Iran will be most interesting. War is Peace and all that. what will Israel do now about Israel? the Middle East is blowing up and here we have an “opportunity” to not go to war with the evil nation of Iran? chances are War will be found to be the reliable choice for those who want it.

    Peace is a choice, but not really an option. the Empire doesn’t know how to do “peace.”

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