Brazil’s new acting president was US embassy intelligence source in 2006

Temer RousseffThe new acting president of Brazil briefed American diplomats on sensitive political matters in 2006, according to cables published by the international whistleblower website WikiLeaks. Michel Temer is leader of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, known as PMDB. Although it is one of Brazil’s largest political parties, the PMDB has been unable to muster enough electoral support to govern the country on its own. As a result, under Temer’s leadership, the PMDB has been a partner of every governing coalition in Brazil since 1995. During the administration of leftwing President Dilma Rousseff, Temer held the post of Vice President.

But in March of this year, the PMDB dropped its support of Rousseff, accusing her of financial irregularities. In April, the speaker of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Brazilian Parliament), Eduardo Cunha, who is himself a PMDB member, spearheaded impeachment proceedings against Rousseff. Eventually, these efforts were successful, leading to the suspension of the president, who is currently undergoing an impeachment trial. In the meantime, Temer assumed the role of president, as stipulated by the Brazilian constitution. This has led Rousseff to denounce the proceedings as a coup orchestrated by the PMDB.

Throughout this process, the United States, which has had a tense relationship with President Rousseff, and her predecessor, the leftwinger Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, has maintained a discrete silence. But two leaked cables produced by the US embassy in Brazil in 2006, show that Temer, who led the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff, was considered an intelligence informant by US diplomats. The cables, which were published on Friday by WikiLeaks, appear to show that Temer briefed US diplomats at length on sensitive matters relating to domestic Brazilian politics on at least two occasions. The cables, dated January 11 and June 21, 2006, are marked “sensitive but unclassified” and “Political Affairs—Intelligence” by their author, Christopher McMullen, who was then US consul general in Brazil. They detail the content of conversations that Temer, who was then a member of Congress, had with McMullen and an unnamed US official in the embassy’s political section.

There is no reason to assume from these cables that Temer was a paid informant, or that he was even a regular source of information for US diplomats. Nor is there any evidence that the US officials who met with Temer worked for US intelligence. However, it is clear in the cables that the Brazilian politician relayed sensitive information about his personal electoral plans, the plans of the PMDB, as well as the domestic politics of his party, which includes an analysis of various factions. Moreover, he appears to discuss matters of political strategy that are not meant for general consumption.

Ironically, the June 21 cable contains McMullen’s unfavorable assessment of Temer and the PMDB, which he describes as a “a group of opportunistic regional leaders” who have “no ideology or policy framework” and thus lack “a coherent national political agenda”. Temer was sworn in as president on May 12 and will remain in the post for no more than 180 days, during which time the outcome of the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff will be determined.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 17 May 2016 | Permalink

Brazil builds direct Internet cable to Europe to avoid US spying

Proposed transatlantic cableBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS |
The government of Brazil is to construct a transatlantic cable across the Atlantic Ocean in order to avoid having its Internet traffic to and from Europe intercepted by American intelligence agencies. According to reports, the fiber-optic cable will stretch for 3,500 miles from the northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza to the Portuguese capital Lisbon. It will cost the Brazilian government in excess of US$185 million, but it will allow the country’s existing Internet traffic to and from Europe to travel without going through cables owned by American service providers. According to Brazilian officials, the construction of the cable is among several steps announced by the Brazilian government aimed at disassociating its communications infrastructure from American companies. The move follows revelations made last year by American defector Edward Snowden that the US National Security Agency specifically targeted Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s personal communications as part of its intelligence-collection efforts targeting Brazil. In response to the revelations, Rousseff cancelled a planned official state visit to Washington and accused the US of having committed “a breach of international law and an affront” against Brazil’s sovereignty. The planned fiber-optic cable connection to Europe will be overseen by Telecomunicacoes Brasileiras SA, Brazil’s state-owned telecommunications conglomerate, known commonly as TeleBras. The company’s president, Francisco Ziober Filho, said in an interview last week that none of the $185 million that will be spent on the project will end up in the pockets of American companies. For over a year, experts have been warning that the Snowden revelations about the extent of the NSA’s global communications-interception activities might undermine the American telecommunications sector, insomuch as it could undercut America’s role and influence in global Internet governance. Many countries, Brazil included, are beginning to actively reconsider their dependence on US-managed Internet networks that host the content of social media sites, cloud computing databases, or telecommunications exchanges. Read more of this post

Brazil accuses Canada of economic espionage

The Brazilian government has demanded that Canada explain the role of its intelligence services in “unacceptable” incidents of espionage, which targeted the Latin American country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy. The announcement came just hours after a television report accused Canada of spying on Brazil’s mining and energy sector, allegedly for commercial gain. The report, which aired on O Globo television on Sunday night, said the spying had been carried out by Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). Staffed by around 2,200 employees, the CSEC is Canada’s foremost signals intelligence agency, tasked with carrying out communications interception around the world. According to O Globo, the CSEC collected the metadata of emails and calls associated with computer and telephone systems belonging to the Ministry of Mines and Energy. The information allowed Canadian intelligence to effectively map the communications structure of the government Ministry, through a network mapping program codenamed OLYMPIA. O Globo said its report was based on a CSEC PowerPoint presentation titled “Advanced Network Tradecraft”, which was produced in the summer of 2012 and shared with Canada’s allies, including the United Kingdom and the United States. The television station said that the information was based on a batch of documents leaked by former Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency technical expert Edward Snowden. Snowden defected from the US last summer and is currently living in Russia, were he has been offered political asylum. The Brazilian television station spoke to Edison Lobao, Brazil’s Mines and Energy Minister, who said that Canada’s primary economic interests in Brazil centered on “the mining sector”, and hinted that the alleged CSEC spying might have “served corporate interests”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #478

  • Israel and Chile collaborated to spy on Iran and Venezuela. Documents released by WikiLeaks show Israel and Chile cooperated to spy on Iran as it developed bilateral links with Venezuela. A diplomatic cable from the US embassy in Santiago to the State Department in Washington, dated July 21, 2008, said Chile and Israel both expressed concern about growing ties as well as a potential Iranian presence on the border with Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
  • Korean spies broke into Indonesian delegation’s hotel room. Members of South Korea’s NIS spy agency broke into a hotel room of a visiting high-level Indonesian delegation to try to steal sensitive information on a possible arms deal, according to Seoul-based Chosun Ilbo newspaper. The report said the NIS officers left “after being disturbed by a delegate”.
  • High-ranking Libyan pilots defect to Malta. Two air force jets landed in Malta on Monday and their pilots, who said they are “senior colonels” in the Libyan air force, asked for political asylum. The pilots claim to have defected after refusing to follow orders to attack civilians protesting in Benghazi in Libya. Meanwhile, a group of Libyan army officers have issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to “join the people” and help remove Muammar Gaddafi by marching to Tripoli.

Three more Latin American countries recognize Palestinian state

Israel, Palestine

Israel, Palestine

Three more Latin American countries officially recognized the state of Palestine last week, prompting harsh diplomatic responses from Israel and the United States. The recognitions were announced by the governments of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, which make up the majority of Mercosur, a South American common market area modeled after the European Union. All three nations said they officially recognized a Palestinian state based on internationally established borders prior to the 1967 Six Day War, during which Israel illegally occupied the West Bank and Gaza. The official recognitions were immediately endorsed by Riyad al-Maliki, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in the West Bank, who said that the PNA expected Paraguay —Mercosur’s fourth member— to follow suit early next year. The new recognitions by Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay follow earlier similar moves by Nicaragua, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Cuba. Diplomatic observers expect Palestine to soon be officially recognized by the vast majority of Latin American nations, with Colombia, Peru and a handful of Central American states being the few exceptions. Read more of this post

New book on Canada’s mysterious Agent 235

Johann Heinrich Amadeus de Graaf

De Graaf

A new book published by the Pennsylvania State University Press sheds new light into the life and work of mysterious Agent 235, Canada’s mysterious mid-20th-century spy known as ‘Johnny’. In Johnny: A Spy’s Life, R.S. Rose and Gordon Scott present the outcome of 14 years of research on ‘Johnny’, whose real name was Johann Heinrich Amadeus de Graaf. De Graaf was born in Germany in 1894, but later moved to Britain, and at the start of World War II worked as an informant for MI6. Although he conducted some of his operations in Germany, most of them took place in the UK, where he unmasked a number of native pro-Nazi sympathizers and agents of the Gestapo. Read more of this post

France accuses US of launching military invasion of Haiti



Rivalries between the major donor powers, as well as non-profit agencies, in earthquake-devastated Haiti are delaying humanitarian help to the island. The infighting surfaced during the weekend, as the growing US military force in Haiti appeared to refuse flights from other nations consistent access to the island’s airport, giving priority instead to its own military aircraft. The move triggered a diplomatic row between the US, France, Haiti’s former colonial power, and Brazil, which technically commands the United Nations mission there. Complaints by the two countries, which lodged official protests with Washington, were echoed by officials from the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, who said emergency flights to the island were diverted to the Dominican Republic by the US military. The tense situation led to France accusing the US of using the island’s Toussaint L’Ouverture airport as a “military annex”, while French and Brazilian diplomats in the Caribbean complained that the US has launched what appeared to be a military invasion of Haiti. Read more of this post