The US National Security Agency also intercepted text messages by Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto in which the then-presidential front-runner discusses two possible cabinet picks, journalist Glenn Greenwald said on Sunday night’s show ‘Fantastico’, citing a 24-slide presentation. Peña Nieto assumed office in December 2012.
Mexico’s government is studying the allegations and has summoned the U.S. ambassador in Mexico City, Anthony Wayne, for consultations, the Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement. The government “categorically condemns” spying against its citizens, it said.
Peña Nieto didn’t mention the report in his annual state of the union address today.
“What struck me about these documents was how personal they were. They had pictures of them” said Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro and writes for The Guardian newspaper, said in a phone interview. “I’d think there has to be some sense of violation and invasion that will produce some outrage.”
Greenwald said the presentation was part of the first batch of documents he received from Snowden when he met him in Hong Kong in May. That was before the former Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. employee was granted a one-year asylum in Russia on President Vladimir Putin’s condition that he stops disclosing documents that harm U.S. interests.
In July, Greenwald co-wrote articles in O Globo newspaper that said Brazil’s telecommunications network, a hub for traffic from Latin America, was a priority target for the NSA, alongside China, Iran and Russia. The surveillance was facilitated by associations between Brazilian and American companies, the extent and names of which Greenwald said he couldn’t verify.
US ambassador Thomas Shannon at the time denied the report by the Rio de Janeiro newspaper, telling officials that the U.S. didn’t spy on Brazilian citizens and only collects records of phone calls or e-mail messages abroad to pursue suspected terrorists.
“Shannon first said we only look at meta-data,” said Greenwald. “It was a complete and absolute lie.”
The latest secret document disclosed was prepared by a division of the NSA known only by its acronym SATC, Greenwald said. The presentation concludes that by teaming with the NSA division in Latin America, the agency was able to penetrate the communications networks of high-profile, security-savvy Brazilian and Mexican targets. The benefits of the exercise allow analysts to “find a needle in a haystack in a repeatable and efficient way,” according to the document.
In a separate document shown by Fantastico outlining the NSA’s assessment of U.S. geopolitical challenges through 2019, the rise of Brazil on the global stage is classified as a “stressor” to regional stability and a potential risk to U.S. interests. In the document it appears alongside Iran, Mexico, Sudan, Egypt and several other countries under the heading “Friends, Enemies or Problems?”
“The government reaction has to be fast because this is a delicate problem,” Andre Cesar, director of consulting firm Prospectiva, said by phone from Brasilia. “Officials have to show strength. They have to show that they won’t accept this.”