Magazine article New Internationalist

Don't Shoot the Whistleblower

Magazine article New Internationalist

Don't Shoot the Whistleblower

Article excerpt

Brazilians are furious·

In June, ex-defence contractor Edward Snowden leaked classified documents from the US National Security Agency (NSA) to the Washington Post and to Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian. Since then, Greenwald has published a series of scoops revealing the troubling reach of US surveillance.

A story in July showed that US intelligence has monitored millions of emails and phone calls from Brazilian citizens. According to The Guardian, this makes Brazil - ostensibly a US ally - 'among the most heavily data-mined nations, alongside China, Russia and Pakistan'. In the wake of the revelations, shame-faced US Vice-President Joe Biden was left to call Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to convince her not to cancel a visit to Washington in October.

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Bolivians are furious.

When the US suspected that a plane from Russia carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales might also be transporting Snowden to asylum in Latin America, it used diplomatic pressure to force the plane to land in Vienna. Morales charged Spain, France, Italy and Portugal with joining in a Washington co-ordinated effort to refuse the plane airspace access. The Obama White House has not bothered to deny involvement. Snowden was not, in fact, aboard the plane.

The episode prompted protests in Bolivia and expressions of solidarity throughout the region. 'We are not colonies any more,' said Uruguayan President José Mujica. 'We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.' Needless to say, had Morales grounded Obama's plane, US Marines would probably be occupying La Paz by now.

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Europeans are furious·

It's not clear that European allies would participate in such a scheme again, given mounting indignation over evidence that they, too, have been the victims of US spying. For starters, the NSA hacked into the computer system at the European Union offices in Washington DC and bugged numerous foreign embassies in violation of a 1961 treaty on diplomatic relations. Through its PRISM programme, the agency has tracked the online activity of millions of foreign civilians foolish enough to use Google, Yahoo, Apple or Microsoft. In Germany alone, the NSA may be collecting data on six billion phone calls and emails every year. …

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