Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brazil, the NSA and a Snowdened State Visit...

The Snowden induced diplomatic fallout continues...

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has decided to cancel a looming state visit to the United States. In short, Rousseff is angry that the NSA has been spying on her government. 

Although the cancellation is obviously a major embarrassment for the US (state visits are regarded as the highest form of diplomatic honor), President Obama has agreed with this decision (or so his Press Secretary claims). Anyway, from my perspective this is all a bit overblown. Sure, the Brazilians are pissed off. That's understandable. Nevertheless, as I've argued before, robust and wide ranging US intelligence operations are both lawful and necessary. The US Government is certainly far from unique in its pursuit of information. 

To be clear, the Brazilian government is fully aware as to why espionage occurs. Behind closed doors, they probably aren't that bothered about this scandal (positive US-Brazilian relations are simply too important for both nations). 
            That being said, President Rousseff has to balance practical reality with domestic political reality (placating Brazilian nationalism)... Brazil's next election takes place in a little over a year.

Incidentally, new reports suggest that the NSA may have also operated a major proxy-station intercept program in Belgium. Again, this would make sense... Belgium is home to a significant number of Islamist extremists. The US has a compelling state interest in monitoring these individuals.

The ultimate truth behind NSA activities? 

9/11 taught the US Government that it cannot rely upon others to defend the American people.

 In the end, it's really that simple.

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