Expatriate journalist Glenn Greenwald is conducting what Americans like to call the Chinese water torture on the NSA and the U.S. government. (Actually, it was invented in Italy 500 years ago.)
Snowden is in Russia. He is under Putin’s gag order. But Greenwald keeps releasing more juicy and highly embarrassing information. This is making the NSA gag.
This time, it is on NSA’s spying on Latino political leaders: the president of Mexico and the president of Brazil. This officially is seen as an affront. The only excuse is the one the NSA has invoked, and Obama has silently accepted: “Everyone does it.” It is true, of course. Governments spy on their people all the time. As the digital technology of surveillance gets ever-cheaper, more spying is demanded by governments. But there is supposed to be a kind of professional courtesy shown to heads of state. Governments are not supposed to assassinate heads of state, to avoid a tit-for-tat escalation. They are not supposed to spy on the heads of state for the same reason. The NSA has violated this professional courtesy.
Greenwald lives in Brazil. He writes for the British Guardian. He gives interviews in Brazil. So, he can get his material published. Gone are the days when the New York Times could spike a story on behalf of America’s entire media. “If it’s not in the Times, it might as well not be true.” These days, the Times is just another way to print information on paper that everyone read on Drudge the day before.
Grreenwald blew Snowden’s whistle for him once again, and it’s all over the English-speaking world. The World Wide Web keeps a leaker, like Greenwald, in front of the world. He is beyond the long arm of the federal government.
The U.S. government wants to try Snowden as a traitor. But what about Greenwald? He is a “mere” journalist. If the U.S. government goes after a journalist, the journalists of the world will protest in the name of the freedom of the sovereign press. In the eyes of a reporter, there is immunity for those people who release stolen documents. Reporters are like an international cartel of fences for stolen goods. “Arrest burglars, but leave us alone.”
Greenwald leaks story after story. When will it end? The NSA wants to know. Obama wants to know. How deep is the treasure trove of purloined evidence of violated rights of privacy, which are no longer rights?
This version of the story was run by the BBC.
Brazil and Mexico have both demanded an explanation from the US over claims that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on their presidents.
Internet data from Brazilian leader Dilma Rousseff and Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto was intercepted, journalist Glenn Greenwald told Brazil’s TV Globo.
Mr Greenwald obtained secret files from US whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
Brazil said data interception would represent an unacceptable violation of sovereignty. Mexico called for a probe.
“You cannot allow… a US agency, or someone that has been hired by the US government, to follow what any Brazilian citizen is doing,” Brazilian Senator Eduardo Suplicy told the BBC’s Newshour programme.
Nonsense. Of course you have to allow it. You have no choice but to allow it. A foreign head of state is no better than a common American citizen in the eyes of the NSA.
Both the Brazilian and Mexican governments summoned their respective US ambassadors. Mexico requested an “an exhaustive investigation” to determine who may be responsible for the alleged spying on Mr Pena Nieto’s emails before his election last year, the AFP news agency reported.
In July, Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported that the US had seized web traffic and phone calls across the region.
In short, this has caused a gigantic stink South of the border. The NSA’s spying is comprehensive. Everyone is grist for the mill. Every foreign politician now knows that he is being monitored.
Greenwald is using Snowden’s basket of eggs to cook up fresh eggs for Obama’s face every month.
Obama is reduced to playing Oliver Hardy to the NSA’s Stan Laurel. “Here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”
Snowden’s digital treasure trove is the gift that keeps on giving. It is giving the NSA fits.
Nothing will change at the NSA, of course. Its gigantic hidden budget will not be touched. The spying will go on. Congress will do nothing. But the blowback will also go on. Obama will continue to look like a conniving functionary of the NSA, which he in fact is. The NSA is in charge; Obama isn’t. It’s very bad for creating the image of Obama as the man in charge. He is either out of the loop or low man on the totem pole.