19 September 2013

Wow! This NSA stuff is getting serious—Rouseff snubs Obama

There seems to be no limit to the cats whistleblower Edward Snowden has put among the pigeons. Among the gems about the U.S. National Security Agency's spying mischief Mr. Snowden has revealed is that it monitored Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's telephone calls and emails, spied on communications by her aides and targeted Brazil's biggest oil company, Petrobras.

President Rousseff is not amused. The lady has postponed a proposed official visit to Washington in October, saying, "Given the proximity of the scheduled state visit to Washington and in the absence of a timely investigation … there aren't conditions for this trip to be made. ... when the question is settled in an adequate manner, the state visit can quickly occur." She had requested an explanation and apology from Obama, but apparently his reassurances have been unsatisfactory.

Politically, Rousseff may have felt her decision was necessary in light of the fury that details of U.S. spying activities have created among the Brazilian public. Nonetheless, it is very serious stuff when the president of Brazil tells the president of the United States that a meeting is off because he hasn't met her expectations. It illustrates in part the declining influence of the United States in South America and the rising influence of Brazil, but it also illustrates the seriousness of the NSA's misbehaviour.

Part of that seriousness is the spying on Petrobras. It suggests that the NSA is conducting intelligence operations beyond that of ensuring national security and is now engaging in industrial espionage, precisely what it claims makes its operations different from those of Chinese and Russian agencies.

The NSA has been very naughty indeed. Its alienation even of friends will not help make the United States a safer place.

1 comment:

  1. The lady has threatened to start her own World Wide Web and to string her own fiber optics cable to Europe.