Continuing Spying Fall Out in Brazil: This Time With Regard to Brazilian Activities
2013-11-05 by Kenneth Maxwell
On Monday, November 4th, the fallout of the Spying scandal continued in Brazil.
The “Folha de Sao Paulo,” Brazil’s principal daily newspaper, reported that the Brazilian government, during the first two years of the Lula administration in 2003 and 2004, had spied on foreign diplomats in Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, including Russia and Iran, as well as Iraq and the United States.
The report by Lucas Ferraz, based on a government document of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin), was confirmed by the government, which said that the counterespionage operations had taken place under national law.
The account by Lucas Ferraz was collaborated Folha reported by interviews with the military officers and agents and former functionaries at Abin.
General Jose Elito Carvalho Siqueira, the head of the President’s Office of Institutional Security (GSI), and the director general of Abin, Wilson Roberto Trezza, would not comment saying that the report dealt with secret matters.
Ten operations had been underway during these years, according to “Folha” including the monitoring of at least one Brazilian citizen.
Accusations of spying involving the government of the United States “Folha” pointed out had provoked criticism by foreign leaders, and had led to the cancellation of President Dilma Rousseff’s “State Visit” to Washington DC in October.
“Folha” reported that the spying the Brazilian spying had covered rooms rented by the United States in Brasilia which Abin believed were used for espionage.
The document from Abin, partially printed in Folha. cover Operation Café, Operations Miucha and Guanani. A fourth account involves Operation Xa.
Operation Café in 2003 involved monitoring diplomats from Iraque and involved Abin agents following their cars and photographing their activities in the embassy and surroundings.
Operations Miucha and Guarani involved Abin agents following three Russian diplomats to identify their contacts and interests in Brazil. These involved military equipment as well as the Russian consul general in Rio, Anatoly Kashuba.
Abin thought they were involved in espionage and follow them to their home residences. In March 2004 Abin began to collect information on the activities of the Brazil-Russian Chamber of Commerce and its president, Fernando Gianuca Sampiao, who is the honorary consul of Russia in Porto Alegre. Gianuca Sampaio told “Folha” ironically: “I am a Russian agent, but an official one.”
Operation Xa involved Abin monitoring the activities of Iranian diplomats in Brasilia as well as the visit of Iranian ambassador in Cuba, Seyed Davood Mohseni Saleh to Brazil between 9 an 14 of April in 2004.
The US embassy in Brasilia denied that it used the building monitored by Abin for spying saying that it was used only to store communications equipment. The report from Abiin, called Operation Escritorio, said that the office held communication equipment, radios, and computers.
But the US Embassy denied any use of the facilities by the CIA or by the NSA. Agents of Abin told “Folha” that the location was probably still used for espionage. One former Abin agent told “Folha” that he had himself been offered a job by American agents to use this type of equipment in Brazil but that he had refused the offer.
A note from the cabinet of Institutional security of the presidency of Brazil said “these operations follow Brazilian legislation and protect the national interest.”
Editor’s Note: In an earlier piece, Dr. Maxwell highlighted a key aspect of the NSA crisis: why is an employee of a private firm reading the e-mails of the President of Brazil courtesy of the NSA?
The challenge of sorting through the global digital flow is a key one for intelligence services, and not just the NSA.
The Administration has a chance to show some leadership here in terms of ending practices which make no sense, and carving out a clear policy with regard to its focus on the digital revolution, and the limits of collections.
It is not justified to be spying on allied leaders under the guise of dealing with terrorists.
Without a clear Administration effort to re-define policy, there is a real chance that the United States will lose crucial support from key allies.
And this need not happen.