Snowden's Pandora's Box continues to bring little surprises
"Pandora's Box" opened by Snowden continues to bring sensations. Brazilian TV channel Fantástico received exclusive secret documents from Glenn Greenwald, a journalist with The Guardian showing that U.S. intelligence agencies were spying personally after presidents of Brazil and Mexico Dilma Rousseff and Peña Nieto. How did the United States wiretap the presidents?
Greenwald who lives in Rio de Janeiro received these documents from Edward Snowden, a former analyst of the National Security Agency of the United States (NSA) who recently was granted temporary asylum in Russia.
The first document of June 12, 2012 is entitled "Intelligent data filtering on the example of Mexico and Brazil." It is an internal presentation of spyware that allows finding a "needle in a haystack." "Hay" in this case is a huge volume of information obtained as a result of spying on telephone lines, servers, Internet connection, social networks and so on. "Needles" are the President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff and former presidential candidate of Mexico Peña Nieto.
The NSA used two computer programs for information control. "Mainway" program is used to collect a large amount of information passing through the Internet. To intercept text messages on the Internet "Association" program was used. The second program is called "Dishfire" and searches information on certain keywords. The presentation includes a slide entitled "Interesting Messages" that shows two text messages sent by Peña Nieto from his mobile phone. In one of them, he says who will be appointed ministers in the event of his victory in the presidential election.
The operation against Rousseff is called "Goal." Its purpose is to better understand who the companion of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is, and the methods of communication between her and her top aides. The chart on the bottom of the slide shows the communication scheme of the president in detail. On the last page of the document there is a statement that the method used was a simple and effective filter for the collection of data not available otherwise.
This is not the first exposure by Snowden against American espionage in Brazil. A month ago, O Globo published his information about total surveillance of Brazilian users, including the activities of ministries, public and private companies. Brazil has protested to the UN Security Council and at the regional level within the MERCOSUR (Common Market of the South American countries).
How is such espionage conducted? Was it done on the Brazilian territory or abroad? An expert on the NSA James Bamford told Fantástico that the agency has representatives in U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, including the embassy in Brazil and consulate in Rio. Antennas installed in these locations can intercept microwave signals of cell phones, Bamford said. "The tactics of the U.S. government after September 11 is justified by the fight against terrorism, but in fact, people are intimidated so they agree to these measures as necessary. But much of espionage has nothing to do with national security, and its purpose is to obtain an unfair advantage over other people in the field of trade and economic relations," Glenn Greenwald quoted Snowden for Fantástico.
This is true for politics as well. Another document obtained by the Brazilians contains a list of geopolitical challenges expected by the United States in 2014-2019. The emergence of Brazil and Turkey as global players on the world stage is classified as a "risk to stability." The question is asked whether Brazil is a friend or a foe. Egypt, India, Iran, and Mexico are also considered in the context of challenges they present.
According to the results of O Globo revelations, Dilma gathered the government on Monday, and they decided to call the U.S. ambassador in Brazil demanding an explanation. Next, they are planning to demand an official explanation from the U.S. government, as well as appeal to international organizations such as the UN to discuss violations of civil rights and the sovereignty of the country. The Minister of Justice José Cardoso said that if the findings are confirmed, it would be inadmissible and unacceptable, because it can be regarded as a clear encroachment on the sovereignty of our country. This week he was on a visit to the U.S, where Vice President Joe Biden proposed to sign an agreement on the CIA surveillance on Brazilians with the permission of the Ministry of Justice of Brazil, and in the case of a criminal investigation. Cardoso declined the offer.
Secretary of State John Kerry went even further. He said during his visit to Brazil on August 13 that the United States would continue to implement its program of espionage, and asked the Brazilians to focus on "important realities" of bilateral relations in various fields. Last Thursday The Washington Post published Snowden's data on the "black budget" of the CIA for 2013, amounting to 52.6 billion dollars. The top priorities for intelligence included "offensive cyber operations" and research on decoding of encrypted messages.