According to Reuters, MERCOSUR, the South American trade bloc, had very strong words for Washington on Friday (July 12) over allegations of US cyber spying in the region and defended their right to offer asylum to fugitive former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, 30.
MERCOSUR includes the nations of Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay and Bolivia, which is an associate member.
COMMENT: Although the US persists in telling foreign governments not to help Snowden in any way, it appears that Washington's initial effort to educate US citizens on the data-mining program managed by the National Security Agency (NSA) has stirred the ire of nations abroad.
Most recently, nations in Latin American have expressed outrage by even the US' closest regional ally, Colombia.
MERCOSUR's joint statement on Friday called for solidarity with the governments of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, all of which have offered asylum to Snowden.
Leaders throughout Latin America are also furious over reports that NSA targeted most Latin American countries with spying programs that monitored Internet traffic, especially in Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and México.
MERCOSUR also urged that the US spy scandal be brought before the UN Security Council.
To make matters worse, left-leaning Argentine President Cristina Fernández made the following statement: "This is the world we live in; a world with new forms of colonialism. It is more subtle than it was two centuries ago, when they came with armies to take our silver and gold."
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay made her first comment on the Snowden case on Friday, saying citizens worldwide needed to be sure their communications were not being unduly scrutinized and calling on all countries to respect the right to seek asylum.
What began as a public information program by the NSA director to calm the concern of US citizens over the wide-sweeping capture of email addresses and phone numbers on as many as half the US population, multilateral criticism has escalated in recent weeks, even in Europe.
Worse, President Barack Obama has unfortunately threatened any foreign government with political sanctions if they offer Snowden asylum. This is not necessarily the best way to make friends and influence people.
What the Obama Administration fails to realize is that there are significant consequences for issuing high-level security clearances to US citizens whose only goal was to gain national security access for the express purpose of unauthorized disclosure of US secrets.
The real question Washington should be asking itself is: Why was Edward Snowden issued a high-level security clearance and where did zero-tolerance preemployment investigative protocols fail to prevent the wholesale release of sensitive national security information?
If anything, the most powerful country on Earth has been outfoxed by a 30-year-old high school dropout. Why?