The notion that the U.S. was alone in its efforts to use surveillance as a means of not only keeping track of terrorist activities but also as a time-honored means of maintaining a diplomatic edge was never really big news to anyone with a realistic view of foreign policy and, you know, history. But this basic truth has been conveniently ignored by outrage-pornographers like Glenn Greenwald who, from his home in Brazil, has repeatedly singled out the U.S. as one of only two nations guilty of participating in the spy game.
It turns out, however, that, yes, Greenwald’s adopted home nation of Brazil spies on the U.S. and other diplomatic players. From today’s New York Times:
Brazil’s government acknowledged on Monday that its top intelligence agency had spied on diplomatic targets from countries including the United States, Iran and Russia, putting Brazilian authorities in the uncomfortable position of defending their own surveillance practices after repeatedly criticizing American spying operations.
Whoops! But of course that’s not all. Some time ago, intelligence and foreign policy reporter Joshua Foust detailed Brazil’s long history of spying on its own people, not to mention activist groups and journalists. Oh, and Brazil has its very own version of PRISM, too. Joshua Foust reported:
Brazil, for example, operates its own massive domestic spying operation — a detail Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, leaves out of all of his outraged writing about the NSA. In 2008, ABIN, Brazil’s intelligence agency, secretly recorded a conversation between Supreme Court president Gilmar Mendes and Sen. Demóstenes Torres. The president at the time, Lula da Silva, suspended the agency’s chief spy, but no one knows how long or how often senior officials were wiretapped.
In contrast to Brazil, the NSA has not committed any abuse on par with spying on the U.S. Supreme Court. But while Greenwald is furious at the NSA’s email-snooping programs, he does not condemn Brazil’s own PRISM-like system to steal email data for government analysis.
Things in Brazil haven’t improved since da Silva fired his top spy. Earlier this year, ABIN was accused of spying on a movement to oppose the construction of the Belo Monto Dam in Northern Brazil. That wasn’t a unique incident, either: in June Brazil’s intel service launched a massive effort to surveil and eavesdrop on social media — a reaction to this year’s mass protests that Brazilian police violently beat down.
Nevertheless, Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff not only condemned the U.S. before the United Nations, but she also canceled her state visit to the White House in protest of NSA eavesdropping, thus amplifying the badly lop-sided and misleading reporting of Greenwald and others.
With each of these stories, it becomes increasingly clear that certain reporters, including and especially Glenn Greenwald (who has become a minor hero in Brazil, by the way) are seeking to unilaterally cripple the U.S.’s ability to operate on the world stage — to make sure the U.S. as well as the U.K. are unable to do what most other industrialized nations are doing.