On November 7th, Brazil and Germany jointly proposed a preliminary version of a resolution on online privacy at the UN General Assembly. At a time when public outrage over the reach and scope of U.K. and U.S. mass surveillance is at an all time high, the draft resolution is the first official recognition by the UN of the threat that mass surveillance poses to human rights. The draft resolution is significant in many respects but particularly because it condemns “human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications… in particular massive surveillance.”
The draft resolution calls upon all states:
- To end privacy violations and prevent further privacy incursions and ensure that national laws, practices and procedures conform to existing international human rights obligations,
- To establish independent national oversight mechanisms capable of maintaining transparency and accountability for state surveillance of communications,
- Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit a report to the General Assembly on the protection of the right to privacy.
If adopted, this will be the first General Assembly resolution on the right to privacy since 1988. This represents an excellent opportunity for states to update their understanding of international human rights law in the context of the massive technological developments that have taken place over the last 25 years.
While introducing the draft resolution, the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations New York drew attention to the 24th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) side event organized last September by Germany and Norway. During this meeting, member states engaged in a robust debate of online surveillance. EFF, Privacy International, Human Rights Watch, Access, APC, Article 19 and a coalition of 290 NGOs presented formally the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, a set of principles that provide States with a framework to evaluate whether current or proposed surveillance laws and practices are consistent with human rights. These principles have been cited in the new Mexican telecom reform bill, in op-eds and editorials in different countries, refered by policy makers in Sweden and the United Kingdom, and translated in more than 31 languages. During the 24th HRC, we also submitted an official statement calling on states to ensure that advances in technology do not lead to disproportionate increases in states’ interference with the private lives of individuals.
A few weeks earlier, during the opening of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, made clear the indignation and repudiation in public opinion around the world regarding the revelations of a global network of electronic espionage:
“In Brazil, the situation was even more serious, as it emerged that we were targeted by this intrusion. Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information – often of high economic and even strategic value – was at the center of espionage activity. Also, Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Office of the President of the Republic itself, had their communications intercepted.”
We hope that member states join Brazil and Germany in explicitly condemning mass surveillance by supporting the draft resolution as is currently written, and stay vigilant against watering-down of the text by countries who would continue their ubiquitous spying. Now is the time for all concerned citizens to call upon their governments to conform to the principles signed by 290 NGOs. If your organization hasn’t signed it yet, it can do so here. It’s time to defend the Necessary and Proportionate Principles at the United Nations, and in every other regional or national policy space.
The revelations leaked by Edward Snowden that the NSA committed acts of espionage against top Mexican officials and the president himself have so far provoked only mild indignation from the Mexican political class. Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade appeared to be reassured by President Obama’s ‘word’ that he would launch an investigation into the workings of the U.S. government. Notwithstanding the incongruity that any government investigating its own internal wrongdoing would have any interest in publicizing conclusive evidence of its own criminal activity, President Peña Nieto has been reluctant to push the Obama administration further on the issue, presumably for fear of undermining Mexico’s position as a staunch U.S. economic and political ally.
Ex-president Vicente Fox, meanwhile, enthusiastically endorsed U.S. spying on Mexican politicians, claiming he knew the U.S. spied on him while he was president. Indeed, Fox took comfort in the fact that the world’s superpower monitored his every move and his phone calls, evoking the ominous adage reminiscent of all authoritarian political institutions: one has nothing to be concerned about so long as one has nothing to hide and done nothing wrong. “Everyone will do better if they think they’re being spied on,” he noted, at once reinforcing the dubious entitlement of the U.S. government to act as the world’s police force while simultaneously apologizing for the illegal activities of the NSA. Mr. Fox seems unable to comprehend the basic moral and legal truism that merely because many are involved in committing criminal activities, the moral and legal implications do not simply vanish into thin air. A reasonable observer might instead conclude that the greater the number of international government institutions that are involved in criminal activity, the more serious the problem, not the reverse. “It’s nothing new that there’s espionage in every government in the world, including Mexico’s,” Fox observed. Flummoxed as to why Snowden’s revelations have provoked outrage among the Mexican populace and investigative journalists (if not in government itself), he declared, “I don’t understand the scandal.”
One document obtained by the National Security Archive at George Washington University details Janet Napolitano’s (then Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) official meeting with President Peña Nieto in July 2013. According to Napolitano’s briefing, avoiding discussion of NSA spying on the upper echelons appears to be a Mexican, not solely U.S., initiative. The Mexicans, the document claims, wanted to ‘put to bed’ the issue of NSA intrusions. Indeed, nowhere in the summary of their meeting does the issue arise. Instead, discussions focus on maintaining and increasing border security in order to protect commercial interests and on reducing the number of undocumented migrants entering the United States.
The listless and at times surreal reaction to NSA surveillance by Mexico’s political class demonstrates their level of craven subordination to their U.S. counterparts. One can only begin to imagine the response of the U.S. political class and media pundits were they to discover that Mexican intelligence had repeatedly intercepted the electronic communications and tapped the phones of the Commander in Chief himself.
The Mexican reaction to NSA snooping on the inner circle of government stands in stark contrast to that of Brazil’s. Snowden’s leaks provoked fury within the government of President Dilma Rousseff. She blasted the NSA tapping of her phone and interception of government communications in a fiery speech clearly aimed at President Obama at the UN General Assembly. She lambasted the NSA for spying on millions of Brazilian citizens, tapping the phones of Brazilian embassies, and spying on the country’s partly state-owned petroleum giant, Petrobras. Interestingly, she remarked that the bulk of NSA spying in Brazil was not designed to thwart potential terrorists or to undermine the activities of transnational criminal organizations, but instead, to further U.S. business interests through both international economic and commercial spying. As a result, Rousseff cancelled her planned diplomatic visit to Washington, called for an international conference on data security, began setting up a protected governmental electronic communications system, and proposed changing underwater cables so that international Brazilian internet traffic would no longer pass through U.S. territory.
Brazil’s position, of course, is a reflection of the changing nature of U.S.-Latin American relations more generally. Brazil, the emerging regional power and now less of a fixture of Uncle Sam’s backyard, can afford to take an increasingly independent stance from Washington. Several countries in the region are integrating with each other politically and economically and establishing firm trade links with China, India, and South Africa—an unprecedented dynamic which has had the effect of undermining U.S. hegemony in the region.
Mexico, however, dependent on the U.S. market for 80% of its exports, is much less able to stand up to the superpower. Indeed, Mexico’s traditional position as a subordinate and reliable ally of its northern neighbor is becoming all the more crucial in maintaining the waning U.S. empire, increasingly defensive and militaristic as it reasserts its influence over the region. With a myriad of uncertainties lying ahead for U.S. power in a region that has witnessed the birth of new left-wing social movements that have had considerable success at the ballot box, it is becoming imperative for the United States to uphold and preserve its political, economic, and military alliances as per Mexico and Colombia. In Mexico, U.S. funding for the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has provided a convenient pretext for heavy militarization throughout the country and a clamping down on political dissent and organized popular movements. Spying and surveillance programs are key to achieving the U.S. objective of continuing and reinforcing a status quo that now sees well over half the population in Mexico living in poverty and unparalleled levels of economic inequality.
As in Brazil, U.S. spying in Mexico seems less to do with the ‘War on Terror’ and the ‘War on Drugs’—two key rhetorical tenets of U.S. interventionism—and more to do with the realpolitik of ensuring that a pliant and subservient political class, personified by Fox, Calderón, and Peña Nieto, guard the current transnational dynamics—a socio-economic system that rewards the powerful moneyed neoliberal elites on both sides of the border and keeps the poor and marginalized in their place.
There is a further aspect to the Mexican response to NSA spying which warrants scrutiny. Throughout the Cold War, the CIA and its Mexican counterpart, the DFS, shared all manner of material and intelligence on dissidents (Marxists, communists, students, guerrillas, trade unionists, peasant activists, feminists, etc.) who were often incarcerated or liquidated because, as the authoritarian and paternalistic President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz claimed, they were a threat to ‘national security.’
The current partnership between the U.S. and Mexican governments allows for a level of surveillance of which Mexico’s Cold Warriors could only dream. In collaboration with telecommunications giants, the U.S. and Mexican governments provide the wherewithal and funding for large-scale spying on the Mexican citizenry. Indeed, Mexico’s Federal Ministerial Police (PFM) has recently designed a system of total surveillance and increased storage of electronic communications. In a climate in which there exist widening socio-economic disparities, a grave security crisis, and a growing disillusionment with the status quo, both the U.S. and Mexican governments have a shared interest in forestalling the development of a widespread popular political revolt and a potential ‘Mexican Spring.’ Were there any mystery as to why the Mexican response to Snowden’s revelations was so moderate, one would only need to recall Vicente Fox’s unintentionally shrewd observation that all governments have an interest in spying on one another and on their own citizens. The lackluster reaction from Los Pinos to the NSA revelations is reflective of the extent to which Mexican elite politicians acquiesce in the intrusions, largely because they themselves use domestic spying to further their own sectional interests in a country in which, little more than a decade after the ‘transition to democracy,’ the majority of the population are excluded from meaningful political participation.
Peter Watt teaches Latin American Studies at the University of Sheffield. He is co-author of the book, Drug War Mexico. Politics, Violence and Neoliberalism in the New Narcoeconomy (Zed Books 2012).
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Wednesday that Washington’s refusal to tender an apology for the spying led to her cancelling her crucial state visit to the United States.
“I was going to travel. We said there was only one way to solve the problem, and it was an apology for what happened and a promise that it would not happen again,” she said in a local radio interview.
The trip was initially scheduled to begin on October 23.
The lack of apology from Washington created an impasse, she said, adding that she did not want to run the risk of having a new spying scandal break during her visit, which would be an embarrassment for both sides.
Rousseff also reiterated her charges against the US, saying the NSA surveillance program is economic espionage borne out of commercial and strategic interests.
She said reports of the NSA intercepting communication of state-oil giant Petrobras have belied US claims of the PRISM program being directed to thwart terrorism.
In Wednesday’s interview, Rousseff also responded to a recent story in the Brazilian daily Folha de Sao Paulo, accusing Brazil’s intelligence agency of spying on diplomats from Russia, Iran and Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
She said the agency’s operations did not involve privacy violations as no phone calls or emails were tapped.
Rousseff had attacked the United States in her opening speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September.
“Brazil, Mr President, knows how to protect itself. We reject, fight and do not harbour terrorist groups,” she said.
“As many other Latin Americans, I fought against authoritarianism and censorship and I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals and the sovereignty of my country,” she added.
Earlier on Tuesday Brazil made public a draft bill that will allow the government to prevent internet companies like Google and Facebook from storing data about Brazilian citizens outside the country.
Simultaneous revelations regarding the UK embassy housing a secret listening post in Berlin made Germany summon the British Ambassador to respond to the allegations.
With inputs from Agencies
An anti-spying draft resolution written by Germany and Brazil has been submitted to the United Nations amid the US surveillance scandal.
The draft resolution put forward on Friday would reaffirm “the right to privacy and not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence.”
The right is already protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Furthermore, the draft resolution would also reaffirm the “same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular the right to privacy, including in the context of the surveillance of communications.”
The draft was to be processed by the UN secretariat before being handed over to the UN General Assembly’s human rights panel for discussions.
This comes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff have both condemned the widespread spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA).
Merkel has demanded the United States enter a “no-spying” agreement with Germany and France by the end of 2013 amid recent revelations that the NSA spied on the two countries.
The Chancellor has also stressed that alleged espionage against Berlin and Paris, which are considered among closest allies of the US, should be stopped.
On October 26, a report published by German weekly Der Spiegel revealed that Merkel’s mobile phone had been listed by the NSA Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002, and that her mobile phone number was still listed in June 2013.
Last month, Rousseff spoke at the United Nations General Assembly, calling for international regulations on data privacy and limiting espionage programs targeting the Internet.
Rousseff’s appeal came after reports were published in September by Brazil’s Globo television network, which revealed that the NSA spied on the president’s emails, phone calls, and text messages.
Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.
Brazil is urging a plan to introduce local data storage for Internet giants like Facebook and Google in order to keep the information they get from Brazilian users safe –as part of a complex of measures to oppose US spying.
The new law could impact Google, Facebook, Twitter and other Internet global companies that operate in Brazil, Latin America’s biggest country and one of the world’s largest telecommunications markets.
The country’s president, Dilma Rousseff, is urging lawmakers to vote as early as this week on the law, according to Reuters who have seen the draft of the legislation.
“The government can oblige Internet service companies … to install and use centers for the storage, management and dissemination of data within the national territory,” the draft of the document read.
Rousseff’s calls come after surveillance leaks by the US in Brazil that went as far as tracking the personal phone calls and e-mails of the President herself.
Last month, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff canceled a scheduled meeting at the White House after leaked documents showed the NSA spied on her country’s state oil company.
“We are not regulating the way information flows, just requiring that data on Brazilians be stored in Brazil so it is subject to the jurisdiction of Brazilian courts,” Rousseff spokesman Thomas Traumann said. “This has nothing to do with global communications.”
However, the companies disagree saying that the legislation will increase costs of services, and damage the economic activity connected with information.
Last week a coalition of business groups representing dozens of Internet companies including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and eBay sent a letter to Brazilian lawmakers.
“In-country data storage requirements would detrimentally impact all economic activity that depends on data flows,” the letter read, Reuters reported.
Many also threatened the law will scare the companies, while others, nevertheless, were of the opinion that the companies would comply if faced with no other options.
This week, Brazil is expected to vote on a cyber-security bill to create a state system to protect the country’s citizens from spying.
When the news on the bill emerged two weeks ago, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff tweeted the news, stressing the need for greater security “to prevent possible espionage.”
The latest legislation project comes against a backdrop of Brazil set to host a conference next April to debate ways to guard Internet privacy from espionage.
The meeting is to be held by ICAAN, the body that manages web domain names. It is thought to be neutral and includes governments, civil society and industry.
Meanwhile, BRICS companies are working to create a “new Internet”.
In particular, Brazil has been reported to be building a “BRICS cable” that will create an independent link between Brazil, South Africa, India, China and Russia, in order to bypass NSA cables and avoid spying.
The cable is set to go from the Brazilian town of Fortaleza to the Russian town of Vladivostok via Cape Town, Chennai and Shantou.
The length of the fiber-optic cable will be almost 35,000 kilometers, making it one of the most ambitious underwater telecom projects ever attempted.
Last week, most of the BRICS countries joined talks to hammer out a UN resolution that would condemn “indiscriminate” and “extra-territorial” surveillance, and ensure “independent oversight” of electronic monitoring.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “contacts [between Moscow and Washington] never stop,” when asked if the latest publication of secret files leaked by the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor would affect relations between Russia and the US.
Also, Lavrov made it clear that the situation surrounding Snowden is irrelevant to Russia.
“We have formulated our position on Snowden and have said everything,” he said.
- China echoes Brazil’s call for cyberspace guidelines (thebricspost.com)
The latest analysis of Snowden leaks from the German magazine Der Spiegel is a bombshell for Mexico.
“The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years,” reads the opening line in the Oct. 20 issue.
The article goes on to detail three major programs that together constitute a massive espionage operation against Mexico. No one seems to have been immune from its intrusions, including two presidents.
The presidential computer network was infiltrated since 2010 when Felipe Calderon was still president. The ever-zealous National Security Agency (NSA) was apparently very proud of itself for hacking the private communications of the leader and cabinet members of an allied nation.
In a “top secret” report, its “Tailored Access Operations” division (TAO) crows:
“TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account”, calling it a “lucrative source” to gauge Mexican “political system and internal stability”. The leaked operation was code named “Flatliquid”.
Mexicans first found out that their nation, along with Brazil and other Latin American countries, was a major target back in September, when Brazil’s O Globo published an article by Glenn Greenwald, Roberto Kaz and Jose Casado on tapping Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s phone and other communications. The article noted that the NSA had Mexico in its sights too.
A specially designed NSA program spied on then-presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto to find out who he was planning to appoint to his cabinet and how he’d handle the volatile drug war—the cornerstone of US policy in Mexico.
That caused a stir and the Peña Nieto administration sent a diplomatic note and demanded a U.S. investigation.
Sunday’s revelations add details to the previous information and show a far vaster and more insidious operation than was first imagined. Text messages from Peña Nieto’s cell phone—85,489 to be exact, according to the Der Speigel-Snowden report– were harvested and organized into data bases, identifying nine close associates for surveillance and analysis.
A third program called “White Tamale” dates back to 2009, when the NSA managed to hack into the emails of high-level officials in the now-defunct Public Security Ministry.
“In the space of a single year, according to the internal documents, this operation produced 260 classified reports that allowed US politicians to conduct successful talks on political issues and to plan international investments.”
The documents note that the spy operation allowed the NSA to gain access to “diplomatic talking points”.
What does this mean? Wouldn’t using ill-begotten private communications in negotiations be something akin to blackmail?
In any case, it seems to have fulfilled its purpose because during the subsequent period U.S. intelligence, military, police and drug enforcement agencies achieved an unprecedented margin to operate in-country, effectively breaking down any remaining resistance to their activities on Mexican soil.
The Der Speigel article states that in spy operations in Mexico, “the drug trade” was given top priority level, while the country’s “political leadership”, “economic stability” and “international investment relations” received number-three priority rankings on a scale of five.
This latter category gives credence to charges from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff that the NSA used its apparatus for industrial spying, seeking advantages. Her charges are borne out by documents that show that Brazilian oil company, PETROBRAS, was a target of U.S. espionage. The Mexico revelations were more general but also indicate economic espionage.
The NSA, as reflected in its own documents, seems to have no sense of boundaries—it qualifies its invasions as unqualified “successes”. Der Spiegel quotes another document that reads,
“These TAO accesses into several Mexican government agencies are just the beginning — we intend to go much further against this important target.”
It goes on to state that the divisions responsible for this surveillance are “poised for future successes.”
Mexico’s Muted Response
The response from NSA to questions was predictable,
“We are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity, and as a matter of policy we have made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”
So far, no enterprising journalists have asked the Mexican government if it has 85 thousand text messages off of Obama’s phone.
Since September the Mexican government has known it was massively spied on by the United States. After the revelations regarding Peña Nieto’s communications and contacts with US diplomats, Mexico says President Obama agreed to carry out an investigation.
But what exactly does the Mexican government expect of this investigation? No one has questioned the authenticity of the documents. Everyone knows Snowden has them, otherwise why would the U.S. be trying to force his extradition and threatening countries offering asylum. And it seems that asking the U.S. government to investigate NSA be an exercise in futility, especially since the Der Speigel article states explicitly that the programs had presidential authorization.
Not surprisingly, Mexico’s response was widely considered weak.
So far, the response to this latest round of revelations hasn’t shown much more backbone. The foreign relations ministry called the practice “unacceptable, illegitimate and against the law”—and said it would be sending another diplomatic note.
“In a relationship between neighbors and partners, there is no room for the practices alleged to have taken place,” the ministry said.
When Der Speigel asked for a comment from Felipe Calderon, Harvard University, apparently the spokesperson for the beleaguered ex-president since it took him under its ivied wings as a Global Leaders Fellow at the Kennedy School, said it would give him the message.
A senior U.S. State Department official told CNN that the Mexican government reached out about the report, and that the two governments will be discussing it via diplomatic channels.
Peña Nieto has to react now. Brazil is taking specific steps to protect privacy from the long ear of the NSA. Rousseff has been outspoken in its indignation, taking it to the floor of the United Nations General Assembly and cancelling a state visit to Washington.
Mexico’s economic dependence on the United States under NAFTA puts the Peña administration in a tougher bind. Big business will put pressure on Peña to let it slide. The PRI is likely to be seriously annoyed, but it also knows an important part of its power base rests on its relationship with the U.S. government and economic elite, almost a tautology, as shown again in the fact that taxpayer-supported NSA spying was directed at industrial spying to give U.S. companies an edge in bidding, investing and competing.
Whatever the response, the revelations are a blow to a somewhat shaky relationship. Peña Nieto has made it clear it will not allow the same carte-blanche treatment U.S. agencies were given under former president Calderon, but he has also continued security integration and U.S. expansion under the guise of the war on drugs.
Calling into question the terms of the bi-national security relationship should not necessarily be viewed negatively. Demands for a more transparent and less military-oriented relationship between the U.S. and Mexico have been growing. The NSA documents reveal a global security doctrine that has spun dangerously out of control, with what Greenwald calls “the construction of a worldwide, ubiquitous electronic surveillance apparatus” that apparently has no qualms regarding the right to privacy or national sovereignty. Neither the Mexican nor the U.S. Congress has sufficient knowledge of what’s going on to provide reasonable oversight, and the Mexican government apparently has little knowledge of the realm of shadowy U.S. intelligence activity in its own country.
When you add in the private contractors hired under the $2 billion-dollar Merida aid package, it makes for a vast and murky world of post-Cold War conniving.
That can’t be good for diplomacy, or democracy.
Laura Carlsen is director of the Mexico City-based CIP Americas Program.
Fifteen Minutes an American President
Obama’s rhetorical exercise in ‘peace talk’ at the United Nations General Assembly impressed few delegations and even fewer Americans: Far more eloquent are his five years of wars, military interventions, cyber-spying, drone murders, military coups and the merciless prosecution of patriotic truth tellers.
If his ‘peace message’ fell flat, the explicit affirmations of imperial prerogatives, threats of military interventions and over two dozen (25) references to Israel as a ‘strategic ally’, confirmed the suspicions and fears that Obama was preparing for even more deadly wars.
Playing the ‘War Card’ in the Face of Massive Opposition
Obama’s UN speech took place at a time when his war policies have hit rock bottom both at home and abroad. After suffering at least two major diplomatic defeats and a string of negative polls, which revealed that a strong majority of Americans rejected his entire approach to foreign policy, Obama made an overture to Iran. Up to that point few delegates or citizens were impressed or entertained by his ‘new vision for US diplomacy’. According to many experts, it was vintage Obama, the con-man: talking peace while preparing new wars.
Nothing in the past six years warranted any hope that Obama would respond to new overtures for peace emanating from Iran, Syria, or Palestine; his habitual obedience to Israel would push for new wars on behalf of the Jewish State. At no point did Obama even acknowledge the sharp and outraged criticism by leading heads of state regarding his policy of cyber colonialism (massive spying) and his pursuit of imperial wars.
Obama’s Double Discourse: Talking Peace While Making War
At his 2009 inauguration, Barak Obama proclaimed, “We are going to have to take a new approach with a new emphasis on respect and a new willingness to talk.” And then he proceeded to launch more wars, armed interventions, clandestine operations and assassination campaigns in more countries than any US President in the last fifty years.
Obama’s record over the past five years reads:
(1) Continued war, slaughter, and military bases in Iraq.
(2) A 40,000 plus US “troop surge” in Afghanistan.
(3) An unprovoked assault against Libya, devastating the country, reducing oil production by 90%, throwing millions into chaos and poverty. and allowing a multitude of terrorist groups to divide the country and distribute its huge arsenal of weapons.
(4) Over 400 un-manned aerial drone attacks, murdering over 4,000 civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
(5) Cross-border ground and air attacks in Pakistan and counter-insurgency warfare that forcing over 1.5 million refugees to flee the war zones.
(6) The arming and financing of ‘African Union’ mercenaries to invade and occupy Somalia, sending hundreds of thousands of Somalis into refugee camps.
(7) Unconditional support for Israel, including the ‘sale’ of advanced weapons and an annual $3 billion dollars ‘aid’ package to a racist regime intent on more land grabs in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as the displacing, killing, arresting and torturing of thousands of Palestinians and Bedouins.
(8) The sending of the US Naval armada to the Persian Gulf while imposing even more brutal economic sanctions drafted by Israeli-Firsters in order to strangle the Iranian economy and starve its over 70 million citizens into submission.
(9) Maintaining the notorious Guantanamo torture camp where hundreds of prisoners languish without trail (despite early promises to close it).
(10) Arming and training Islamist terrorists and ‘pro-Western’ mercenaries to invade Syria, killing over 100,000 Syrians and driving over one million refugees from their homes. Obama’s plans to bomb Syria are on hold, as of October 2013, thanks to Russian President Putin’s peace initiative.
(11) Engaging in grotesque global cyber-spying and the massive theft of highly confidential military, economic and political communications within allied nations (from Germany to Brazil) at the highest levels.
(12) Unleashing a violent destabilization campaign in democratic Venezuela, following the defeat of the US candidate; Obama was the only leader in the world to refuse to recognize the election.
Altogether, Obama’s five years in office have been marked by his relentless pursuit of imperial power through arms and domination; This has come at enormous economic cost to the American people in the form of huge fiscal deficits and significant overseas and domestic political losses.
As a result, Obama’s rising tide of militarism has had the opposite effect of provoking a countercurrent of peace initiatives to challenge the assumptions and prerogatives of the war-mongers in the White House. The dynamics of this immense clash between the global war and peace forces will be played out in the next several months.
The Dynamics of Obama’s Foreign Policy
Obama’s future policy reflects the interplay between a highly militarized past and the tremendous current pressure for peace and diplomacy. The changes emerging from these powerful conflicting forces will have a decisive impact on the global configuration of power, as well as on the trajectory of the US economy for the foreseeable future.
We have proceeded by outlining in telegraphic form the principle events and policies defining Obama’s embrace of a militarist policy over the past five years. We will now proceed to highlight the current countervailing forces and events pressuring the White House to adopt a diplomatic and peaceful resolution of conflicts. We will identify the leading pro-war power configuration acting as an obstacle to peace. In the final section we will spell out the policy resulting from these conflicting forces.
The Dynamics of Peace against the Legacy of War
By the early fall 2013, powerful tendencies emerged which seemed to undermine or, at least, neutralize Washington’s drive to new and more deadly wars. Eight major events constrained Washington’s empire builders to temporarily rethink their immediate steps to war.
These include: (1) President Vladimir Putin’s proposal for Syria to destroy its chemical weapons, under UN supervision, denying the US its current pretext for bombing Damascus. The subsequent UN Security Council resolution, which was unanimously approved, did not contain the ‘war clause’ (Chapter 7) – thereby removing Washington’s pretext to bomb Syria for ‘non-compliance’ to the tight time-table for disarming its chemical arsenal.
(2) Iran’s President Rohani’s calls for peace and reconciliation, his offer to start prompt and consequential negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program has isolated Israel and its Zionist agents in the international arena and forced Obama to reciprocate, resulting in a move toward US-Iranian negotiations.
(3) Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff’s, powerful denunciation of US cyber spying against her government, economy and citizens before the General Assembly resonated with the vast majority of political leaders. Coming from the most powerful economy in Latin America, the sixth largest economy in the world and a leading member of BRICS, Rousseff’s rejection of US cyber-colonialism and its IT and telecommunication corporations and her call for national development, control and ownership of these communication networks, set a clear anti-colonial tone to the proceedings. Washington’s response, its affirmation of its ‘right’ to spy on allies and their private citizens, as well as foes, has isolated Washington and found few supporters for such global cyber-imperial pretensions. To accommodate Brazil, Washington will be forced to enter into negotiations and acknowledge (if not comply with) Brazil’s demands.
(4) US domestic public opinion, in the run-up to Putin’s diplomatic solution of the Syrian crisis, was overwhelmingly opposed to Obama’s moves to bomb Syria. By a margin of two to one, the American electorate opposed any new war; and Congress was prepared to heed its constituents, as letters were running nine to one against war. In other words, Obama lacked domestic support for attacking Syria and was under strong pressure to accept Putin’s diplomatic solution. The mass involvement of American citizens, at least temporarily, pushed back the war-mongers among Israel’s wealthy and influential backers in Washington.
(5) Obama’s militarist foreign policy faces pressure from the Congressional deadlock over the budget and debt ceilings. Lacking a federal budget and with government offices closing, the White House has been forced to lay-off millions of military and civilian employees. Obama is not in a position to launch a costly new war, even if his Zionist patrons are “storming” Congress and clambering for one. The ‘fiscal crisis of the state’, which exploded in September 2013, is turning into a powerful political antidote to the policy of serial wars Obama undertook during his first five years in office. The debt-ceiling crisis and its aftermath further weaken the White House’s capacity and willingness to pursue an extended war agenda in the Middle East. Congress’s refusal to raise the debt ceiling, without budget reductions, could foreshadow a crisis in financial markets spreading to the world economy and leading to profound recession. The White House has its hands full trying to stabilize the domestic economy and placate Wall Street, thus weakening its willingness to engage in a new war.
One caveat: It is possible that, facing political divisions and an economic crisis, political adventurers and pro-Israel advisers might convince Obama to launch a war to ‘unify the country’ and ‘divert attention’ from his domestic debacle. A military distraction, of course, could backfire; it could be seen as a partisan ploy and deepen domestic divisions, especially if a US attack on Iran or Syria led to a wider war.
(6) The Snowden revelations of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) global spying have weakened the White House’s ties to its allies and heightened antagonism with its adversaries. Trust and co-operation, especially with regard to intelligence, have been weakened in Asia, Latin America and, to a lesser degree, in Europe. Several countries are discontinuing the use of US-IT companies which had collaborated with the NSA. By losing access to the communications of top officials in targeted countries, these revelations may have undermined Washington’s global reach. Obama and Kerry’s outrageous justifications for spying on their allies and private citizens and their defense of intervention in cyber space have stirred up powerful political currents of anti-imperialism among major trade partners. At the UN General Assembly Bolivian President Evo Morales asserted, ‘The US is mistaken if it thinks it is the owner of the world’. His attack on US military imperialism, “…terrorism is combatted through social policy not with military bases”… resonated among the vast majority of UN delegates. In stark contrast, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s bellicose speech received a hostile reception among those heads of state who didn’t simply walk out in disgust.
The Snowden disclosures of cyber-imperialism has seriously weakened the US capacity for war by exposing its intelligence operations and discrediting the war mongers associated with the NSA, making war planning more difficult.
The domestic and foreign forces, as well as world conditions for peace, would be overwhelming in any normal imperial system. But there is a ‘special factor’, a powerful ‘undertow’, which opposes the forces for peace, i.e. Israel and its US-based billionaire funded, 300,000 member-strong national and local Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) deeply embedded in government and civil society.
Against the Winds of Peace: The Zionist Power Configuration
On September 29, 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu landed in New York, as part of an Israeli campaign to undermine world-wide support for a peaceful resolution of the war against Syria and the US-Iranian conflict. On September 30, Netayanhu met with President Obama and addressed the United Nations General Assembly the next day. Israel and Netanyahu represent the biggest and most powerful obstacle to the growing “tide of peace”. Given its status as a pariah state and the global community’s negative view of Israel and its bullying Prime Minister, Netanyahu has to rely almost exclusively on the US to maintain its monopoly of nuclear weapons in the region, its vast stockpile of chemical weapons and its military supremacy in the Middle East. The White House and the US Congress are crucial institutions backing Israel’s ambition for uncontested hegemony in the Middle East. And the Zionist Power Configuration is decisive in setting US policy throughout the region.
The ZPC operates on several levels: (1) dozens of Zionist billionaires and millionaires fund Washington-based propaganda mills (so-called ‘think tanks’), an army of pro-Israel Middle East ‘experts’ and Ivy League publicists, the 52 major American Zionist organizations and their 300,00 zealous militants. They pour tens of millions of dollars into electoral campaigns throughout the country, rewarding compliant politicians who support any legislation or resolution submitted by Zionist politicos and lobbyists (while brutally punishing any congressional ‘dissenters)’.
(2) Dozens of Zionist zealots occupy key positions within the Administration, especially as appointees dealing with the Middle East and Treasury, ensuring that US policymakers impose economic sanctions on Israel’s enemies and pursue wars in Israel’s interests. They unconditionally back Israel in its attacks on its neighbors and block any sanctioning vote in the UN. They make sure that Israel receives the most advanced weapons and the US Treasury pays its annual $3 billion-plus dollar tribute to the Jewish State.
(3)The Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations and their militants ensure local and national support for Israel, even at the expense of domestic US interests and priorities. The zealots actively intervene to ban, censor or threaten the employment of any critic of Israel or the ZPC – extending to the most mundane local level of harassment. They successfully limit the content and participants in the mass media, world affairs forums and university programs with their threats and bullying.
The mass media are controlled by pro-Israel moguls, news reporters, and commentators who mold public perception of Israel claiming it to be a ‘bastion of democracy’ while labelling Iran a “terrorist Islamist dictatorship”. Media analyst Steve Lendman describes, in his article entitled, “Israel Launches Anti-Rohani Media Blitz,” Netanyahu’s repeated lies on questions pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program and how the major US news media parrot Israel’s bellicose propaganda. The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg back Netanyahu’s demand for harsh economic sanctions and threats of aggression against Iran. The Daily Alert, mouthpiece of the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organization, reproduces and circulates scores of libelous polemical diatribes denigrating President Rohani, and slavishly praise each and every bellicose eruption out from the mouths of Israeli politicians and generals. For example, leading Zionist propagandist, Jeffrey Goldberg calls President Rohani a “dishonest war monger,” dismissing his peace overtures because he is not “ready to shut down his country’s nuclear program”. Aaron David Miller, another one of Israel’s Washington intellectuals, echoes Netanyahu’s “concerns about wily Iranian mullahs bearing gifts” while demanding that the US government “take care of Israel’s concerns”. The Zionist demand that the US “secure Israel’s concerns” is a no-brainer because the Jewish state is determined to strip Iran of its sovereignty, surrender its entire medical and civilian nuclear program, and submit to Israeli regional hegemony…
The US and British press reported that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has launched their own ‘full-scale invasion’ of the US Congress, sending over 300 full-time lobbyists to sabotage any form of rapprochement between the US and Iran. Just prior to the UN General Assembly meeting, AIPAC militants were writing legislation for the US Congress, which imposed new additional sanctions to further undermine Iranian oil exports; their efforts secured “bi-partisan” support of over 300 members of Congress. While President Obama faces a divided Congress, the Israel-Firsters from AIPAC easily secure a near unanimous vote to scupper any diplomatic dialog between Washington and Teheran. These new extremist sanctions were dictated by the Israeli Foreign Office and are designed to sabotage any White House negotiations.
While some corporate newspapers, like the Financial Times, describe the “suspicions in Congress which raise the bar for a deal”, they fail to mention the extraordinary intervention and influence of AIPAC in sowing these “suspicions” and authoring all anti-Iran legislation over the past two years! The mass media covers up the central role of the ZPC in opposing a US dialogue with Iran, and in subverting the push for peace favored by the vast majority of war-weary and economically-battered Americans. Even ‘progressive and leftist’ weeklies, monthlies and quarterlies are silent on the overwhelming role of the ZPC. Leading left journalists systematically skirt around any in- depth discussion of the AIPAC and the 52 pro-Israel Jewish organizations in manipulating the US Congress, the mass media and the Executive branch.
Any writer who attends US legislative committee hearings on the Middle East or observes Congressional debates, or interviews Congressional staff-members and lobbyists, or reads AIPAC reports, can compile ample public documentation of the major role that Israel, through it US Zionist organizations and agents, plays in dictating US-Iran relations. Nothing illustrates the extreme power the ZPC exercises over US policy toward Iran than the thundering silence of ‘progressives’ over the central ZPC role in policymaking. Is it simply cowardice or fear of being slandered as an ‘anti-Semite’? Or is it fear of being excluded or blacklisted by major media and publications? Or is it complicity: Being ‘critical of privileges and power’ while selectively excluding mention of Zionist access and influence?
So we have the situation in the US today where the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu dictates the ‘negotiating terms’ to the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations. According to Netanyahu’s dictates, the Islamic Republic of Iran must stop all uranium enrichment – including that for medical, research and energy use, close the enrichment facilities at Qom, remove all enriched uranium and halt the production of plutonium. Having set these ridiculous, sovereignty-killing conditions on Iran and having the unconditional support of the entire ZPC, Netanyahu proceeds to sabotage the peaceful, diplomatic process via the lap-puppies in the US Congress. As one Washington pundit noted the Obama regime “is very conscious of the fact that Israeli views on Iran have a large influence (sic) on opinion in the US Congress”.
No country on any continent would or could accept the terms dictated by Israel and its Fifth Column in the US – terms that undermine national sovereignty. In fact, all countries with nuclear power facilities and advanced medical and research institutions engage in some or all of these activities. By setting these extremist terms, Netanyahu is in effect dooming the negotiations from the start and setting the stage for war, the so-called “military option” that both he and Obama agree would follow from a collapse in negotiations.
In a rational democratic world, most experts would argue that the new alignment of forces for peace, including the vast and growing domestic opposition to new wars and world public opinion in favor of President Rohani’s overtures for negotiations, the US could easily ignore Israel’s war mongering. But a more realistic and reflective analysis, however, would argue that the negotiations will only proceed with great difficulty, especially in the face of ZPC sabotage in adding new sanctions rather than a good-faith act of cutting or reducing the current sanctions.
The Israeli-ZPC ‘war offensive’ went into high gear precisely at the moment when world public opinion, the UN and even the White House enthusiastically welcomed the peace overtures from newly elected Iranian President Rohani.
The purpose was to sabotage any dialogue with Iran before they even began. The ZPC took the following measures:
1. AIPAC and its clients in the US Congress have circulated new harsh sanctions and rapidly signed up dozens of Congressional supporters. The entire Zionist apparatus, led by the 52 Presidents of the Major Jewish American Organizations, backed the latest and most severe sanctions against the Iranian oil industry. They followed Netanyahu’s dictate to make the Iranian economy collapse. The purpose of the ZPC is to create the worst possible conditions for negotiations – undermining the ‘goodwill’ following Obama’s gestures (the phone conversation with Rohani) and sure to provoke widespread opposition among the sanction-weary Iranian population against a US-Iran dialogue.
2. The notorious Israeli spy outfit, Mossad, was most probably involved in the brutal assassination of Iran’s official in charge of cyber-defense, Mojtaba Ahmadi. Most experts agree that, since 2007, Israel’s intelligence agency has been behind the horrific assassinations of five Iranian nuclear engineers and scientists, as well as the head of their ballistic missile program. The timing of the current Mossad outrage is designed to further poison the climate for US-Iranian negotiations, even though the victim this time is not directly linked to Iran’s nuclear program.
3. Netanyahu’s speech to the General Assembly was pure corrosive vitriol, character assassination and fabrication. He made constant reference to Iran’s ‘nuclear weapons program’, although on-site reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency and sixteen US intelligence agencies have repeatedly shown that no such program exists. Nevertheless, thanks to the power and influence of the ZPC, Netanyahu’s venomous message was relayed by all the major media and picked up and repeated by influential pro-Israel think tanks, academics and pundits. Netanyahu unleashed the Zionist pro-war propaganda machine to energize Jewish powerbrokers to ‘put the squeeze’ on the White House. The effect was immediate: Obama rushed out to parrot Netanyahu’s lies that Iran had a nuclear weapons program. Secretary of State Kerry obediently pledged to keep ‘the military option’ for dealing with Iran ‘on the table’ – in other words, the threat of a unilateral attack. UN Ambassador Samantha Power demanded the newly elected President Rohani make immediate concessions in order to prove his “seriousness.”
Conclusion: World Peace or Zionist War?
Recent political and diplomatic changes provide the world community with a measure of optimism regarding the prospects for peace. Under intense pressure from US public opinion, Obama temporarily went along with Russian President Putin’s diplomatic approach over chemical weapons in Syria.
The UN General Assembly’s favorable response to Iranian President Rohani’s call for dialogue has compelled Obama to openly consider direct negotiations with Teheran over its nuclear program.
World public opinion, favorable interlocutors in Iran, bold diplomatic initiatives from Russia, and cooperative behavior from Damascus, all events pointing to a peaceful resolution of current Middle East conflicts, face a formidable enemy embedded in the very centers of power in the United States, the ZPC, which acts on behalf of the ultra-militarist Israeli state.
Over the years, the ZPC has successfully pushed for crippling sanctions and wars against a number of Israel’s regional opponents. Leading Zionists in the Bush regime fabricated the myth of Saddam Hussein’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ leading the US to invade, occupy and destroy Iraq, despite massive opposition from the US public on the eve of the invasion. Zionists in the US Treasury Department and in the White House slapped broad economic sanctions on Iraq, Iran and Syria — preventing the biggest US oil companies from investing and trading with these resource-rich nations, which cost Big Oil close to $500 billion in lost revenues. An empirical study of congressional committees, legislative debates, resolutions and voting behavior demonstrates that the ZPC co-authored the sanction legislation and administrators, linked to the ZPC, implemented the measures.
The popular notion that Big Oil was responsible for these wars and sanctions, as part of some scheme to take over the oil production facilities of Iraq and Iran, lacks empirical basis. The ZPC defeated Big Oil: Exon, Mobil, and Chevron were no match for the ZPC when it came to penetrating Congress, authoring legislation, mobilizing billionaires to fund Congressional campaigns, organizing thousands of zealous militants or influencing the mass media — including the Wall Street Journal. The governments of billions of poor people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America can only dream of the annual $3 billion dollar tribute that the ZPC secures for Israel from the American tax-payers for the past 30-plus years.
The UN Security Council and its Human Rights Commission are powerless to sanction Israel for its war crimes because the ZPC guarantees a US veto of any resolution. Despite the opposition of the entire Muslim world, the ZPC ensures that Washington will continue to support Israel’s colonial expansion and land grabs in the occupied Palestinian territory, and its bombing of Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Sudan. In other words, the ZPC has successfully undermined the interests of the biggest US multi-national corporations, the position of the UN Security Council and the needs of billions of poor in the Third World. The ZPC induces the US to start prolonged brutal wars costing the US economy over a trillion dollars and totally destroying six sovereign countries (Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia). Today Israel and the ZPC set the terms for US-Iran negotiations — dooming them to failure. The mass media echo Netanyahu’s scurrilous (and infantile) characterization of President Rohani as ‘untrustworthy’, and a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing.’ And US Secretary of State John Kerry parrots Netanyahu’s lies about Iran’s nuclear arms program. Shortly after his talk with Rohani, US President Obama dutifully made his report of the entire conversation to Netanyahu – seeking Israel’s approval. Obama then met with his Israeli ‘handlers’ and pledged fealty to the interests of Israel, bleating out that ‘military option (to attack Iran) is still on the table.’ For the one hundred and ninety-first time (over the past year) President Obama pledged the US’ unconditional support to defend Israel. Like a broken record (or broken political hack), Obama repeated that “Israel must (sic) reserve the right to take military action against Iran it if feels threatened by Iran.”
The Zionist propaganda apparatus has set the terms for the US government with regard to Iran. Tel Aviv orders and the ZPC demands that Obama ‘negotiate’ under Israeli terms. Iran, the ZPC insists, must provide detailed information on its military bases and defenses, end its legal enrichment of uranium for civilian use, turn over its existing stockpiles, end the production of plutonium at the Arak facility, dismantle the underground research facilities at Fordow and cease the conversion of first generation centrifuges to more efficient second generation ones.
President Obama might then permit the Iranians to enrich uranium to about 3.5 percent, operate a few primitive centrifuges and maintain a tiny stock of enriched uranium – for medical purposes…. These are conditions which Israel and the ZPC know that no free and independent country or national leader would ever accept. The Zionists seek to sabotage diplomacy in order to push the US into another Gulf war which they believe will establish Israel as the un-challenged regional hegemon.
It is essential for the peace camp in the United States to expose the role of the ZPC in dictating the US negotiating terms with Iran and publicly repudiate its control over the US Congress and the White House. Otherwise the majority of Americans who favor peace and diplomacy will have no influence in shaping US-Iran relations. The problem is that the majority of anti-war Americans and the international community cannot match the billionaire Jewish Zionists in buying and controlling the members of the US Congress. AIPAC has no rival among Christians, Muslims, or even anti-Zionist Jews. The pro-peace Pope Francis from his pulpit in the Vatican cannot match the power of the Presidents of the 52 Major Jewish American Organizations whose militants can literally “storm Washington” and push the US into war!
Until the 99% of non-Zionist Americans (of all ethnicities and persuasions) organize as a coherent force to push back the tiny 1% — Israel’s Fifth Column — all the hopes for peace awakened by President Putin’s initiative on Syria and President Rohani’s diplomatic opening at the United Nation, will collapse. Worse, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will again lead an American President, Obama, by the nose, from sabotaged diplomacy into another costly Gulf War, one in which thousands of US soldiers (not a single Zionist among them) and tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of Iranians will perish!
Brazilian lawmakers indicated that, in lieu of direct teleconferences with Edward Snowden to gain further insight into allegations of NSA spying in their country, they may seek to seize documents now held by American journalist Glenn Greenwald.
On Wednesday Greenwald spoke to Brazilian senators currently investigating evidence of US as well as British and Canadian espionage in the Latin American country.
The legislators are part of a probe into potential foreign surveillance — the Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito, or CPI — called into action by President Dilma Rousseff in the wake of initial news reports alleging that even the president’s online communication had been intercepted.
Greenwald, who appeared along with his partner David Miranda, a Brazilian national, broached several topics during the hearing, including the possibility of granting asylum to NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.
So far, Brazil has been vague as to whether it would seriously consider extending Snowden, who is currently residing in Russia, an offer of political asylum.
“There are many nations saying, ‘We’re glad to be learning all this information,’ but almost nobody wants to protect the person responsible for letting the world discover it,” Greenwald told the panel.
In the meantime, Brazilian legislators seem eager to find out the extent of foreign surveillance on the country in greater detail.
To that end, the country’s government — specifically, the CPI inquiry — is now seeking to establish teleconferencing sessions with Snowden.
Asked by the commission to turn over documents obtained through the whistleblower Greenwald refused, citing the need for a separation between journalism and government. His partner, Miranda, also cited that divulging the documents would constitute an “act of treason” and prevent Greenwald from entering the US again.
One Brazilian Senator, Ricardo Ferraço, went so far as to suggest that the government commission seek the authority of the country’s courts to seize documents now held by Greenwald if such communication with Snowden proved unfeasible.
Unlike allegations of NSA surveillance in the US, coverage of the agency’s activities in Brazil have taken on a broader scope, and in particular centered on the country’s economy.
Greenwald himself has shaped the narrative of Snowden’s disclosures through his testimony to Brazil’s government, as well as his work with the O Globo newspaper and Rede Globo’s news television.
In August, the journalist told Brazil’s government that alleged American espionage in Brazil was centered on gaining economic advantages rather than on any national security concerns.
“We now have several denunciations that show that the spy program is not about terrorism. It is about increasing the power of the American government,” Greenwald told senators on Wednesday, speaking in Portuguese.
In the most recent report last Sunday, Greenwald said on Globo network television that Canadian spies had targeted Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry, intercepting the metadata of phone calls and emails passing through the ministry.
The impact of the steady stream of surveillance allegations on Brazil has been swift. Last month Petrobras announced that it would be investing $9.5 billion over the next five years to heighten its data security.
Meanwhile, Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo announced that the country’s government was pursuing legislation requiring domestic data exchanges to use locally made equipment.
- Brazilian president postpones visit to Washington over US spying (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Canadian spy agency ‘dissected’ Brazilian Energy Ministry (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Canada, as well as the US, infiltrated and spied on the Brazilian Energy Ministry, a new leak by Edward Snowden has revealed. The leaked documents show how the data gleaned through espionage was shared with international spy network the ‘Five Eyes.’
Newly-released documents handed over to Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald by former CIA employee Edward Snowden describe in detail how Canadian intelligence infiltrated Brazil’s Energy and Mines Ministry.
“I was overwhelmed by the power of the tools used. The Ministry of Energy and Mines was totally dissected,” security expert Paulo Pagliusi told Brazilian program Fantastico, which first reported on the leak.
The program showed documents from a meeting of the ‘Five Eyes’ spy network, comprising the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, in June of last year. In a presentation the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSRC) – the Canadian version of the NSA – outlined how they used a program called Olympia to break through the Brazilian ministry’s encryption.
The information gleaned from the ministry was then shared with all of the members of the ‘Five Eyes.’
“They [Five Eyes] are sharing all the information, handing over documents to let other countries know exactly what they are doing,” said Glen Greenwald.
As a result of the infiltration of the ministry over an unspecified period, the CSCE developed a detailed map of the institution’s communications. As well as monitoring email and electronic communications, the CSCE also eavesdropped on telephone conversations. Able to identify mobile numbers, SIM card registrations and the make of a phone, Olympia even snooped on former Brazilian ambassador to Canada Paulo Cordeiro.
Canada has so far refused to comment on the reports of its spy program. Brazil’s Minister of Mines and Energy Edison Lobao told Fantastico that the reports were “serious” and should be condemned.
Canada is one of the world’s leading energy producers and has significant economic interests in Brazil.
“Canada has interests in Brazil, especially in the mining sector. Does this spying serve the commercial interests of select groups? I cannot say,” observed Lobao.
‘No economic espionage’
Previously, Brazilian newspaper Globo News reported that the NSA was monitoring Brazil’s state oil giant Petrobras. Washington reacted to the allegations, stating that the US “does not engage in economic espionage.” The Obama administration has said on a number of occasions that US covert surveillance is in the interests of protecting US national security.
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has condemned the reports of the NSA’s surveillance of Brazil and demanded the US account for its actions.
As a consequence, the Brazilian head of state postponed an official visit to Washington in October. Rousseff has also taken measures to tighten Brazilian internet security.
“I have sent an internet draft bill to Congress, an initiative that will protect the privacy of Brazilians,” Rousseff wrote on Twitter on Sunday. The government is expected to vote on the bill in the coming weeks.
Back in September, Rousseff slammed the US for “economic espionage,” dismissing US claims the NSA spying is a preventative measure to ensure national security. Addressing the UN General Assembly, President Rousseff stated that state-run Petrobras is “no threat to the security of any country. Rather, it represents one of the greatest assets of the world’s oil and the heritage of the Brazilian people.”
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff lambasted US spying on her country at Tuesday’s UN summit, calling it a “breach of international law.” She further warned that the NSA surveillance, revealed since June, threatened freedom of speech and democracy.
“Meddling in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and as such it is an affront to the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations,” Rousseff said.
“Without the right to privacy, there is no real freedom of speech or freedom of opinion,” Rousseff told the gathering of world leaders. “And therefore, there is no actual democracy,” she added, criticizing the fact that Brazil had been targeted by the US.
“A country’s sovereignty can never affirm itself to the detriment of another country’s sovereignty,” she added.
Rousseff went on to propose a multilateral, international governance framework to monitor US surveillance activity. “We must establish multilateral mechanisms for the world wide web,” she said.
Rousseff said that the US’s arguments for spying on Brazil and other UN member states were “untenable”, adding that “Brazil knows how to protect itself” and that the country has been “living in peace with our neighbors for more than 140 years.”
Brazil’s specific targeting in US surveillance practices prompted Rousseff’s government to announce that it intends to adopt both legislation and technology aimed at protecting itself and its businesses from the illegal interception of communications.
A week ago, Rousseff canceled an impending state visit to Washington, scheduled to take place in October, because of indignation over spying revelations. Rousseff has stated she wants an apology from Obama and the United States.
The revelations that the US National Security Agency has been intercepting Rouseff’s own phone calls and e-mails, in addition to those of her aides and officials at state-controlled oil and gas firm Petrobras, have prompted an outcry in Brazil.
Rousseff’s predecessor as Brazilian President, Lula da Silva, said earlier this month that Obama should “personally apologize to the world.” Lula accused the US of “thinking that it can control global communications and ignore the sovereignty of other countries” in an interview with India’s English-language daily The Hindu, published Sept. 10.
Latin America voices widespread indignation at US activities
US relations with all of Latin America have recently soured. In addition to Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia and Venezuela have all voiced anger with the US over the NSA’s surveillance of their countries this year. Bolivia has been especially bitter.
“I would like to announce that we are preparing a lawsuit against Barack Obama to condemn him for crimes against humanity,” President Morales told reporters Friday in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. He branded the US president as a “criminal” who had violated international law.
In early July, a plane carrying Morales from Moscow to the Bolivian capital, La Paz, was grounded for 13 hours in Austria after it was banned from European airspace because of US suspicions it was carrying fugitive Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who has been responsible for the majority of leaks regarding NSA spying practices since June.
Venezuela wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the end of last week, requesting that he take action in response to the apparent denial of US visas to some members of the Venezuelan delegation who were scheduled to attend the UN General Assembly in New York.
President Nicolas Maduro said that the denial seemed intended to “create logistical obstacles to impede” the visit, and further requested that the UN “demand that the government of the US abide by its international obligations” as host of the 68th UN General Assembly.
Tension between Venezuela and the US rose Thursday when Venezuela’s foreign minister, Elias Jaua, told media outlets that the US had denied a plane carrying Maduro entrance into its airspace. The aircraft was en route to China. Washington later granted the approval, stating that Venezuela’s request had not been properly submitted. Jaua denounced the move as “an act of aggression.”
Brazil has announced plans to bypass the US-centric internet amid revelations that Washington conducts spy operations on web communications.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced the country’s measures to boost the Brazil’s independence and security on the World Wide Web, including storing data locally and bypassing internet traffic that goes through the United States.
Rousseff said plans are in the works to lay underwater fiber optic cable directly to Europe and all the South American nations in order to create a network free of US eavesdropping. This is while most of Brazil’s global internet traffic passes through the US.
The president also announced that she will push for new international rules of privacy and security in hardware and software during the UN General Assembly meeting later this month.
The country’s postal service also plans to create an encrypted e-mail service that would serve as an alternative to Gmail and Yahoo, two companies being monitored by the NSA.
Experts said the move may herald the first step toward a global network free from US monopoly and its illegal surveillance of global communications.
The development comes following the publication of documents leaked by whistleblower and former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in July, exposing US spying on Brazilian companies and individuals for a decade.
Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Face book, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.
- Brazilian president postpones visit to Washington over US spying
- South America: UNASUR To Build Fibre-Optic ‘Mega Ring’
- Latin America Condemns US Espionage at United Nations Security Council
- Mercosur complains to Ban Ki-moon on US global espionage and EU affront towards Bolivia’s Evo Morales
- UK spying on Germany’s major data cable to US triggers media storm
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has postponed a state visit to Washington in response to the US spying on her communications with top aides. Rousseff is demanding a full public apology from President Obama.
Barack Obama spoke with Rousseff on Monday in an attempt to persuade her into following through with the trip, the Brazilian president’s office said, according to AP.
Brazil’s TV Globo reported that the call between the two presidents lasted for about 20 minutes. Obama and Rousseff discussed revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on the Brazilian leader’s phone calls and emails. The two presidents then “jointly” agreed to cancel the meeting, Globo reported, citing the presidential office.
The Brazilian government said in a statement that “the conditions are not suitable to undertake this visit on the agreed date.” It expressed hope that the conflict will be resolved “properly” and the trip will happen “as soon as possible.”
The state visit was initially scheduled for October 23. The Obama administration has confirmed that the visit was canceled.
“The president has said that he understands and regrets the concerns disclosures of alleged US intelligence activities have generated in Brazil and made clear that he is committed to working together with President Rousseff and her government in diplomatic channels to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Earlier this month, TV Globo revealed in a report that the NSA monitored the content of phone calls, emails, and mobile phone messages belonging to President Rousseff and undefined “key advisers” of the Brazilian government. The NSA also spied on Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and nine members of his office.
The revelations were based on evidence provided by former CIA employee and NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which was passed to British journalist Glenn Greenwald.
A document dated June 2012 showed that the Mexican President’s emails were read through one month before he was elected. In his communications, the then-presidential candidate indicated who he would like to appoint to several government posts.
The Brazilian government denounced the NSA surveillance as “impermissible and unacceptable,” and a violation of Brazilian sovereignty.
In July, Greenwald co-wrote articles for O Globo, in which he claimed that some of the documents leaked by Snowden indicated that Brazil was the NSA’s largest target in Latin America.
Greenwald wrote that the NSA was collecting its data through an undefined association between US and Brazilian telecommunications companies, but he could not verify that Brazilian companies had been involved.
Following the revelations, the Brazilian government ordered an investigation into telecommunications companies to determine whether they illegally shared data with the NSA.
Defense ministers of Brazil and Argentina signed a broader military cooperation agreement on September 13. The two governments will work together to improve cyber defense capabilities following revelations of Washington’s spying on Latin American countries.
Brazil will be providing cyber warfare training to Argentine officers from 2014.