NSA spied on presidents of Brazil, Mexico: report

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff participates in the inaugural ceremony for the new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado at the Planalto Palace August 28, 2013.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff’s emails, calls and texts were also reportedly hacked by the NSA.

The National Security Agency spied on the emails, phone calls and text messages of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, a Brazilian news program reported, a revelation that could strain Washington’s relations with Latin America’s two biggest nations.

The report late Sunday by Globo’s news program “Fantastico” was based on documents that journalist Glenn Greenwald obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, was listed as a co-contributor to the report.

“Fantastico” showed what it said was an NSA slide dated June 2012 displaying passages of written messages sent by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who was still a candidate at that time. In the messages, Pena Nieto discussed who he was considering naming as his ministers once elected.

A separate slide displayed communication patterns between Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her top advisers, “Fantastico” said, although no specific written passages were included in the report.

Both slides were part of an NSA case study showing how data could be “intelligently” filtered by the agency’s secret internet surveillance programs that were disclosed in a trove of documents leaked by Snowden in June, “Fantastico” said.

Brazil’s government, already smarting from earlier reports that the NSA spied on the emails and phone calls of Brazilians, called in U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon to explain the new allegations that the agency had spied on Rousseff herself.

Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said the contents of the documents, if confirmed, “should be considered very serious and constitute a clear violation of Brazilian sovereignty.”

“This (spying) hits not only Brazil, but the sovereignty of several countries that could have been violated in a way totally contrary to what international law establishes,” he told O Globo newspaper.

State visit, F-18 jets

Cardozo traveled last week to Washington and met with Vice President Joseph Biden and other officials, seeking more details on a previous, seemingly less serious set of disclosures by Snowden regarding U.S. spying in Brazil.

Rousseff is scheduled to make a formal state visit in October to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington, a trip intended to illustrate the warming in Brazilian-U.S. relations since she took office in 2011.

Rousseff held a Cabinet meeting on Monday that included the country’s defense, justice, communications and foreign affairs ministers to discuss a response to the espionage report. A presidential spokesman would not comment on the new allegations.

“We value our relationship with Brazil, understand that they have valid concerns about these disclosures and we will continue to engage with the Brazilian government in an effort to address those concerns,” a U.S. embassy spokesman said. “Brazil and the United States are global partners and we agree that our broader relationship will remain vital and moving forward.”

Mexico’s presidential palace said it had no immediate comment. In July, after initial reports of NSA surveillance of internet communications in Latin American nations, Mexico’s Pena Nieto said it would be “totally unacceptable” if it were revealed that the United States had spied on its neighbor and largest business partner in the region.

The United States is hoping to sell Brazil 36 F-18 fighter jets, but a Brazilian government official said manufacturer Boeing’s chances of landing the more than $4 billion deal have been set back by the espionage scandal.

During a visit last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Brazil not to let spying revelations derail growing trade, diplomatic and cultural relations between the two largest economies in the Americas. But he gave no indication the United States would end the secret surveillance.

Kerry said the NSA surveillance was aimed at protecting Americans and Brazilians from terrorist attacks.

But Justice Minister Cardozo said on Monday that the latest revelations based on Snowden’s documents show that U.S. electronic surveillance goes beyond combating terrorism and has political targets and may even involve commercial espionage.

Until the report of spying on their president, Brazilian officials, while outwardly furious, appeared to be intent on putting the espionage scandal behind them so that it would not hurt relations with Washington and Rousseff’s state visit next month.

Carl Meacham, head of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, believes Brazil has more to lose than the United States if the visit is scrubbed.

Rousseff, whose popularity has been hurt by massive protests in June against corruption and poor public services, might even make political hay out of the NSA spying affair, he said.

“Keeping this going is probably helpful to Rousseff,” Meacham said. “This helps distract from what is going on in Brazil, things like the economy and spending for the Olympics and the World Cup.”

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…