NSA Documents Leaked to Governments of Brazil, Mexico–Journalists Talk State Sovereignty

Various media outlets have reported on Glenn Greenwald’s activities over the weekend, which are the subject of this post.  However, I found NBC Bay Area’s recitation of events to be most helpful in understanding the crux of the story.  Based on that report, here’s what happened:

Over the weekend, Greenwald, the Rio de Janeiro-based American journalist who obtained secret National Security Agency documents from Snowden, released information to the governments of Brazil and Mexico that provided evidence that the NSA spy program targeted communications of the countries’ respective leaders. Furthermore, according to the documents, Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto’s emails were read within a month of his election.

This may not come as particularly shocking news. As one journalist put it, if this wasn’t occurring, “one would really wonder why the U.S. intelligence community wasn’t actively spying on other governments, especially those with enormous organized crime and drug issues that happen to sit along primary transatlantic fiber optic cables.”

It is actually the aforementioned freelancer’s post combined with Brazil’s reaction to the information and an interesting op-ed on spying as a “sovereign right” that I wanted to detail, especially because these individual components bring together a number of issues that past writers for this blog have discussed or highlighted in some way.

In regards to Brazil’s reaction, Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo said this of Greenwald’s report: “[I]f the facts of [Greenwald’s] report are confirmed, they would be considered very serious and would constitute a clear violation of Brazil’s sovereignty.” According to NBC, he goes on to say, “This is completely outside the standard of confidence expected of a strategic partnership, as the U.S. and Brazil have.”

In a post published today, freelance journalist Joshua Foust criticized Brazil for reacting in such an “uproar,” calling the country “two-faced.” Specifically Foust emphasizes that Brazil operates its own “massive” spying network through which it targets its own citizens domestically.  He goes on to cite an opinion piece by The Moscow Times, which discusses spying as a “sovereign right.”

Similar to a post about Snowden from a few weeks back, The Moscow Times writer exclaims, “[T]he type of spying on foreigners that Snowden revealed is not a violation of any international law, treaty or convention.” Rather, the reporter explains, such “protests against the NSA are reduced to a simple argument: It is ‘bad’ to spy on others.”  This particular article was discussing Russia rather than Brazil or Mexico; however, Foust borrows the language of “spying as a sovereign right” in further asserting that spying is, indeed, “fundamental” to international relations.

I have linked both Foust’s post and The Times article for you to read, as well as a Brazilian article with links to the documents in question. But, I also wanted to excerpt the discussion of spying as a “sovereign right” from The Times article:

In reality, foreign espionage has always been considered a ‘sovereign right’ of every country. On occasion, even Russian officials admit this fact—particularly when they have been caught spying themselves.  Thus, Russia’s fervent objections to the NSA’s foreign espionage activities show a clear double standard . . . . Spying on each other is so systemized and accepted as a ‘sovereign right’ that the U.S. formally presents the head of its CIA station chief when he takes up his position at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to Russian officials.

Again, you can read the full op-ed here, the Foust post here, the Fantastico report here (note that it is in Portuguese, but the documents linked thereto are in English), and the NBC Bay Area’s report here.

Please follow and like us:

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “NSA Documents Leaked to Governments of Brazil, Mexico–Journalists Talk State Sovereignty”

  1. […] Read more: NSA Documents Leaked to Governments of Brazil … – Crossroads […]

  2. […] further response to the NSA revelations, including evidence that the U.S. agency was spying on Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff has been working with domestic lawmakers to implement legislation that […]

  3. […] month, Glenn Greenwald alerted the governments of Brazil and Mexico to evidence that the National Security Agency (NSA) spy program targeted the […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Authors

Untitled Document
Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

Categories

RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
LinkedIn