Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Global Impact: Update--Careless Snowden Background Investigation Impacts on Brazíl, México

According to EFE and Brazil's O Globo, the US National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly  intercepted telephone calls and e-mails of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Mexican leader Enrique Peña Nieto, citing documents from fugitive leaker Edward Snowden.

Regarding México, NSA began intercepting communications of President Peña Nieto even before he won the country's July 2012 presidential election. The surveillance apparently continued during the transition, giving Washington advance knowledge of the new Mexican president’s Cabinet appointments, according to a report aired Sunday (September 1) on Globo’s flagship news magazine, “Fantastico.”

From all indication, "Fantastico" referred to a June 2012 “Top Secret” slide presentation touting NSA’s ability to access the content of the voice and e-mail communications of both Rousseff and Peña Nieto. The slide presentation was among the documentation that Snowden provided to Brazil-based US journalist Glenn Greenwald.

COMMENT: President Rousseff, who is scheduled to visit Washington next month, discussed the NSA revelations with her senior staff which resulted in US Ambassador Thomas Shannon being summoned to receive a formal demand for explanations.

The Rousseff government was reportedly already uneasy concerning NSA's global surveillance program which was designed to interdict transnational terror groups after O GLOBO reported in early July that NSA tapped into Brazil’s telecommunications network via an unnamed US telecom company that obtained access through one or more local partners.

Although many foreign governments, including those friendly to the US, have expressed public and private concern in recent months as a result of Snowden's unauthorized disclosure of national security information (e.g., classified), have more importantly highlighted the very evident weaknesses in the security investigation afforded Edward Snowden and presumably others in the US intelligence community.

What has rhetorically evolved as the "The Snowden Affair," and apart from many foreign governments being upset with the Obama Administration for monitoring their privileged communications for "other than counter-terrorism" purposes," Snowden's conduct is a direct result of faulty internal security.

Our readers should also review my posting of August 2, 2013, entitled "Global Impact: Update--Germany Cancels Surveillance Pact with the US, UK In Light of Snowden Leaks."

If Snowden had been investigated with the same thoroughness that all members of the US intelligence community undergo, "The Snowden Affair" might never have occurred; a number of foreign governments, including MERCOSUR, would not be upset with the US; Russian-US relations would not be in tatters; Germany would have not exited from the counter-terrorism monitoring program that NSA manages; and positive relations with the US would not have to be repaired on a multitude of fronts.

The fact is that someone erred in ensuring that Snowden received a "full coverage" pre-employment investigation, particularly in light of the fact that it was his intent all along to intentionally leak sensitive information once he had access to it. Which he in fact did...on a global scale. 

Imagine the damage that Edward Snowden has done. Imagine!

The bottom-line is that Edward Snowden intentionally lied to NSA when he agreed to protect all national security information for which he was entrusted. As a result, he should be prosecuted to the full extent of US law and INTERPOL members should be requested to arrest Snowden on a fugitive warrant, wherever he can be found.

On the other hand, given the political ramifications of Edward Snowden's unauthorized release of sensitive information he was sworn to protect, there is also the possibility that few foreign governments would arrest Snowden, even if they knew where he was, knowing the disappointment and anger that several governments share toward the US in using their surveillance program for issues unrelated to counter-terrorism against seemingly "friendly" nations.

With US courts never being too concerned with how defendants end up appearing before judges, one concern that Edward Snowden will always have is...regardless of where he lives...is what agency of the US government will be tasked with and rewarded with kidnapping Snowden and taking him before a US court?

It is completely understandable if the Obama Administration were to take such action, as it would be a "feather in the cap" of President Obama and a subtle form of "payback" for President Vladimir Putin's protection of Edward Snowden in what can only be described as a "media circus." 

Moreover, getting Edward Snowden before a US federal court would have a redemptive quality for President Obama, which would be helpful to him at this time.