As the recent opening of the U.N. General Assembly demonstrates, quite a few nations continue to publicly fume over unrestrained NSA surveillance. At the head of the pack is Brazil, which is seeking global legislation to reduce U.S. Web dominance and is pressing Washington for guarantees that spying on Brazilian leaders, civilians and corporations will end. Meanwhile, domestically, President Rousseff is being pressed to show that Brasilia is ready to take on the great powers in the area of espionage. Here are two recent translations that illustrate the challenge.
In an article headlined Warning to Brazil Lawmakers Before Meeting with Edward Snowden, scholar and journalist Paulo Sotero adds his voice to the chorus of doubt. For Estadao, Sotero warns Brazilian lawmakers planning to travel to Russia to question Edward Snowden that they have no idea what they are getting into, and that they are just as likely to get the former NSA analyst captured as they are of learning anything new from him.
For Estadao, Sotero writes in part:
To begin with, we must assume that the committee’s desire to interview Snowden is to the liking of the U.S. intelligence services, because if granted, it would provide them with a unique opportunity to try and uncover the whereabouts of the young former Booz Allen-contractor, and to then commence an operation to return him to the United States. With that in mind, lawmakers shouldn’t rule out the possibility of becoming unwitting participants in a scene worthy of a spy thriller – before, during and after their meeting in Russia. In addition, the Chamber delegation has to be realistic in regard to understandings they will need to enter into with diplomats from Moscow to schedule an encounter with Snowden.
The Russians, as we know, are used to spying and being spied upon. It must, therefore, be curious for them to see the perplexity felt by lawmakers in the face of NSA snooping on Brazil.
Brazil, a country with a tradition of wiretapping and the selective leakage of confidential information about its own citizens, is the only nation of its size and stature that does not have a sophisticated counterespionage agency or an organization that collects and interprets classified information from outside its borders. As Communications Minister Paulo Bernardo admitted, the national attitude is so relaxed that classified information is passed between civil servants and governments – not on secure Intranet networks – but via G-mail or other Internet providers that are not only vulnerable to foreign intelligence services that take the subject quite seriously, but any backyard hacker.
Another peculiarity is Russian pragmatism. Snowden must have been concerned about the resourcefulness Vladimir Putin displayed when the opportunity arose to take advantage of the mess President Barack Obama found himself in over the Syria issue. Putin offered his mate a way out, and then mocked “American exceptionalism” in an article published in The New York Times. Snowden, who was granted a year of political asylum in Russia, should know that he is a likely candidate for an exchange between Washington and Moscow.
The Chamber of Deputies delegation that travels to Moscow should be aware that Sergey Lavrov is Secretary of State John Kerry’s Russian interlocutor in the ongoing case of Syria’s chemical weapons, as he was with Iran. They should know, too, that their [diplomatic] immunity won’t be worth an ounce of caviar the moment they land in Moscow and dive into the electrifying underworld of international espionage.
Then, for Folha, in an article headlined NSA’s Great Power Challenge to Brazil, former Federal Police Superintendent Marcelo Itagiba writes that surveillance is a given for a great power, and if Rousseff actually intends to play in their league, Brazil must immediately begin investing big money in the necessary technology and manpower.
For Folha, Itagiba writes in part:
Under so-called “Realpolitik,” the laws of power govern the world of states, just as law of gravity govern the world of physics.
This is the rule that has always dominated international relations, despite the creation, historically recent, of a regulating body called the United Nations.
The espionage against Brazil is repulsive, unethical and immoral, but is a part of the arsenal of the great powers, who pluck what they want from this global Web technology. Brazil urgently needs to invest in technologies that enable it to develop defense mechanisms for our systems and cryptography that impedes surveillance, makes it difficult, or slows the rapid decoding of strategic data.
Brazil has cooperative protocols with foreign intelligence agencies and even ongoing programs under way with American intelligence. The question being asked of the president is whether she has adopted any measures to halt or eliminate these activities, or if she is all talk.
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