The public assertions made by top U.S. leaders that their global surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA) only looked at “patterns of communications,” and not content, to “fight terrorism” was blown to bits on Sunday as it was revealed that the agency monitored the content of telephone calls, emails and cellphone messages of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her key advisers.
In addition to Ms. Rouseff, President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto was targeted when he was a candidate for the office.
In another top secret document revealed by Globo TV, both Brazil and Mexico are placed in a group of countries which are being closely monitored as a “challenge” by the U.S. Headlined “Friends, Enemies, or Problems?,” the list begins with Brazil and Egypt. It has India at number 3, ending with Turkey and Mexico.
In an exclusive report, The Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who received thousands of top secret documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in June, showed slides and documents from a 2012 presentation on the NSA’s operation whose goal was “to improve understanding of the methods of communication and the interlocutors of the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, and her top aides.”
The explosive revelation may further damage the Brazil-U.S. relations, which have been under stress since it was revealed last month that the Americans were collecting huge amount of electronic data — phone and Internet records — from the country’s networks.
Now, the latest revelation of the NSA’s secret presentation called ‘Smart filtering data: Case study of Mexico and Brazil’ has shown the extent of penetration of the country’s networks by the American agency.
Explaining the 24-slide secret presentation on the programme, Greenwald said the NSA’s first step is to identify its targets and their phone numbers and e-mail, and then using at least three computer programs — Cimbri, Mainway and Dishfire — the agency filters the communications that needed more attention.
One of the slides shows the web of relationships the Brazilian President has with her main advisers. This is a way for the U.S., said Greenwald, to identify the main interlocutors of the Brazilian government. And the documents show that the NSA’s “effort has paid off,” he added.
Another top secret document shown on the Globo programme makes clear why the NSA targeted the Brazilian President. In one PowerPoint presentation titled ‘Identifying challenges for the future,’ which was also passed by Snowden to Greenwald, the American agency has a list of countries which it is assessing as “Friends, Enemies or problems?.” Brazil tops the ranking and it’s followed by Egypt and India. Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Turkey and Yemen are also on the list.
Classified as “For official use only,” this presentation lists the geopolitical challenges for the U.S. in the years 2014-2019. In these slides, the emergence of Brazil and Turkey on the global stage is classified as a “risk to regional stability.” “When the country is more independent and stronger, as is Brazil, and because it’s competing with the United States and American companies, the U.S. government is thinking differently about Brazil,” said Greenwald.
The latest NSA expose has sparked an outrage in Brazil. On Sunday night, reacting to the report, Brazil’s Justice Minister Eduardo Cardozo called it “very serious” and said that if it was confirmed that the communications of the President and her aides was monitored by the U.S., it would be “clear violation of the Brazilian sovereignty.” Mr. Cardozo also said Brazil would make a formal request for an explanation from the U.S. and take the issue to the United Nations.
The issue will definitely cast a shadow over the Brazilian president’s planned visit to the White House in October. In July, when it was revealed that the U.S. agency was intercepting the communications of millions of Brazilians, American Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon had denied that the contents of calls and emails were being spied on. Even Secretary of State John Kerry, who came here last month, asserted that the NSA only collected metadata, the total connections passing through Brazil.