A Brazilian paper (with Glenn Greenwald’s byline no less) is reporting that Snowden leaked documents about US intel programs in Latin and South America - against Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. The Washington Post reports:
A Brazilian newspaper on Tuesday published an article it said is based on documents provided by the former American contractor Edward Snowden asserting that the United States has been collecting data on telephone calls and e-mails from several countries in Latin America, including important allies such as Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.
The paper, O Globo, based in Rio de Janeiro, says the documents show the National Security Agency amassed military and security data on countries such as Venezuela, an American adversary that has been accused of aiding Colombia’s Marxist rebels and maintaining close ties with Iran. But the documents also show that the agency carried out surveillance operations to unearth inside commercial information on the oil industry in Venezuela and the energy sector in Mexico, which is under state control and essentially closed to foreign investment.
U.S. officials have declined to address issues about intelligence gathering or the O Globo report, except to issue a statement saying that “we have been clear that the United States does gather foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations.”
The report on Tuesday came after O Globo on Sunday published a story contending that Brazil is a major target of the NSA’s international effort to monitor telecommunications. The newspaper said that in gathering data in Brazil, the NSA counted on the collaboration of American and Brazilian telecommunications companies, though O Globo did not name them.
Again, none of this is shocking, let alone illegal under US law.
All nations spy. It’s juvenile to think otherwise, or to think that spying is always wrong. There are plenty of good reasons to do so, including keeping tabs on potential or emerging threats, and to inform political leadership in the country doing the spying about what they believe is really going on behind closed doors - not just the public pronouncements by regimes about how their country functions.
Brazilians, Colombians, or Venezuelans might be upset with the surveillance, but do they think that other countries aren’t curious about what their governments are up to and their actions on economic or military issues - such as oil and energy production, or how the government is operating?
Does Greenwald not see the utility in the US (or any other country) trying to figure out what’s going on in Venezuela’s oil industry, and whether they’re actually capable of producing more oil, or if their reserves aren’t what they’ve stated them to be - affecting global energy prices (among other things).
He’s got such an immature worldview that it defies rational analysis. Indeed, spying is a rational behavior by state actors for that very reason - to trust but verify what’s being said and done elsewhere in the world.