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Brazil Admits To Spying On US Diplomats After Blasting NSA Surveillance 239

Posted by timothy
from the but-our-turnabout-is-fair-play dept.
cold fjord writes with this excerpt from The Verge: "Brazil this week admitted to spying on diplomats from countries including the US, Russia, and Iran as part of a domestic program launched 10 years ago ... The program was first revealed in a Monday report from the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, which obtained documents from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, commonly known as ABIN. The revelations come at a sensitive time for current Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who has been among the most outspoken critics of the widespread surveillance conducted by the US National Security Agency (NSA). According to Folha, Brazilian intelligence spied on rooms rented out by the US embassy in Brasilia from 2003 to 2004. ... The report also claims that ABIN targeted Russian and Iranian officials, tracking their movements within the country ... Rousseff's office acknowledged Monday that the spying took place, but stressed that the operations were carried out within the law. The administration added that publishing classified documents is a crime in Brazil, and that those responsible 'will be prosecuted according to the law.' ....the revelations may put Rousseff in an awkward position. The Brazilian president cancelled a state dinner with Barack Obama earlier this year ... and lashed out against US spying in an impassioned speech to the UN in September."
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Brazil Admits To Spying On US Diplomats After Blasting NSA Surveillance

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:15AM (#45335749)

    the article details some very basic surveillance of foreign personnel in the country. if brazil's intelligence service *wasn't* doing this, it would be a scandal.

    • by laie_techie (883464) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:35AM (#45335983)

      the article details some very basic surveillance of foreign personnel in the country. if brazil's intelligence service *wasn't* doing this, it would be a scandal.

      I agree, but the article is apropos due to the fact that Brazil feigned shock and horror at the US spying on them recently. Pot, meet kettle.

      • by RaceProUK (1137575) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:40AM (#45336039) Homepage
        This was spying on a few diplomats within Brazil's borders, not massive wire-tapping on a global scale. So it's not so much pot meet kettle, it's pot meet country music star Dollie Parton.
      • by gl4ss (559668)

        well.. usa spying _in_ brazil vs brazil spying _in_ brazil.

        at least brazil also has it's armed forces do the killing _in_ brazil.

  • by mu51c10rd (187182) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:16AM (#45335765)

    I spy on you...
    You spy on me...
    We're a spying family...
    With a great wiretap and a dead drop from me to you...
    Why can't we just spy on everyone too?

  • Sauce for the goose? Or is it crow? I wonder how they prepare crow in Brazil?

    • by Night64 (1175319)

      Sauce for the goose? Or is it crow? I wonder how they prepare crow in Brazil?

      Well, we don't. The common crow isn't found in Brazil. We have Azure Jays and White-naped Jays (same family, different genus, I believe). But what "sauce for the crow" means? Sorry to ask, but English is my second language.

    • Sauce for the goose? Or is it crow? I wonder how they prepare crow in Brazil?

      Crow is rare in Brazil, but they'd probably try it churrasco or rodizio style. Slather it with sal grosso, spit it, and cook it over flames. gostoso!

    • by dave420 (699308)
      When Brazil gets caught spying on millions of people around the world, you'd have a point. Or bugging the phones of dozens of allied leaders. Just spying on a few diplomats in their own country is hardly the same. But I'm sure to you they're identical, as that easily allows your simmering brain to relax slightly, safe in the knowledge that even if the US is doing something bad (which you'd sorely hate, and refuse to believe even in the face of evidence), someone else is doing something too, even if it do
      • The president of Brazil explicitly condemned spying on diplomats in her speech at the UN. Brazil has been revealed to spy on diplomats. It's not a subtle point, and very little counting is required to understand it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:21AM (#45335809)

    Comparing routine counter-intelligence operations with direct tapping of communications from a Head of State is, at the very least, an exaggeration.

    • Direct tapping of communications from a Head of State IS routine counter-intelligence operations for every country with the technical ability to do so. I'm curious - if Al Assad or Ahmadinejad or Putin had/has the ability to tap Obama's (or Hussain or Musharraf's) phone, do you think they would have said, "Oh, no, he's a head of state - make sure the security service doesn't tap his phone - those are privileged conversations and we have no interest or right in listening in"?

      • by dave420 (699308)
        So you are saying that the US should be not as bad as Iran and Russia, and then it's all cool. Really? You think that's a good stand to take??
  • Holy smokes ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pablo_max (626328) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:23AM (#45335839)

    It's almost as if governments, in general, are not to be trusted. Wow! Who would have ever imagined that their own government would do something like that? I mean, it is not as if every single government since the beginning of time as eventually gotten out of control or anything like that. Oh, wait....

  • Weak Sauce (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:24AM (#45335851)

    This story reeks of the NSA trying to do damage control and doing a piss-poor job of it.

    As best as I can tell it boils down to brazil having tailed some foreign diplomats while they were in country. OMG! So that makes them even with the NSA breaking into anything and everything on the internet. It's totally the same!

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      I am sure the MI5 and the FBI dont tail our allies diplomats and nothing in snowden and manning says other wise
      • Actually, they almost certainly do, as part of normal espionage practice. I'm not saying they're monitoring every time a diplomat takes a shit, but they will be keeping half an eye on their actions w.r.t. international relations.
        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          oh yes keeping tabs on your formal interactions or building a profile on avowed diplomats is one thing but tailing! its what you do to people considered to be actual Intelligence officers to see who they contact and if they are running any illegals or other agents.
          • Depends on exactly what you mean by 'tailing': you could track someone's every action, or just keep a rough itinerary of their general movements e.g. ''1pm - had lunch with PM at Nandos, 2pm - went to cinema'. Anyway, who's to say a diplomat isn't an intelligence officer? I bet someone's tried it.
        • by s.petry (762400)

          I'm not saying they're monitoring every time a diplomat takes a shit

          Actually they probably monitor when, and what's in the shit. What better way of extorting information than "We have the cure for your dysentery right here in this great cabbage Kimchi we made!

          Never put shit above shitty people, they tend to fester in the same pools.

    • Re:Weak Sauce (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:39AM (#45336013)

      You missed something.

      Brazilian intelligence spied on rooms rented out by the US embassy in Brasilia from 2003 to 2004.

      I'm pretty sure they weren't tailing foreign diplomats in a room.

      Unfortunately we don't have well over 60,000 documents on Brazilian intelligence operations to sort through to know more about what was going on.

      I'll sum this up as: Brazil caught spying, Slashdot commentator condemns US. Film at 11.

      • I'm pretty sure they weren't tailing foreign diplomats in a room.

        You got me! They bugged a room with diplomats, which is exactly the same as scooping up everything they can get on anyone they can think of.

        I don't really have a problem with any spy agency spying on another government, that's their job and so this whole thing about Angela Merkel losing her shit is laughable. In fact its sauce for the goose since she didn't seem to have a problem when the NSA was only spying on regular people.

        This example in Brasil is just government-on-government spying and really low-ke

        • actually they bugged the US embassy. which is US territory, not brazil's.

          so brazil spied on us citizens within the us. ehrmagerd!

    • Everyone keeps a watchful eye on diplomats. It's not even remotely like what the NSA has been up to.

  • by Gryle (933382) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:24AM (#45335857)
    I fail to understand why international espionage comes as a shock to anyone. Nations (or states or political entities or nation-states or what-have-you) have been spying on each other since someone figured out that knowing more about someone than they know about you can give you an advantage.
    • I fail to understand why international espionage comes as a shock to anyone.

      There is a simple rule to understand. If the US or UK* does it, shock and outrage follows. If anyone else does it, the reaction is, "everybody does it" and a pass is given.

      * Or any other country in the Anglosphere

      • by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @12:50PM (#45336665)

        No, it's scale, scope and above all where the spying is done. They are not equivalent, and nobody expects the NSA/CIA to not spy on diplomats inside the US borders, or even ones in countries with with which the US does not have good diplomatic relations. They are however expected to not spy on US citizens without very good cause, or foreign citizens in friendly countries without similar justifications. Above all, the "gather it all, let hadoop sort it out" mindset is disturbing, unjustified, and of great concern. The brazil incident is nowhere near the same, period.

    • Not everyone thinks about international espionage for one, so that's why it's a shock to some people. And some of us are merely ACTING shocked, since acting like it was normal and okay only serves to keep big brother going.
    • I fail to understand why international espionage comes as a shock to anyone.

      Look at the submitter. He's also one of the most active posters in the thread. This is propaganda from 'cold fjord' - a straw man that he builds, feigning outrage about run-of-the-mill international spying in hopes of distracting you from the massive illegal surveillance of ordinary US citizens practiced by the US government.

    • Because most of the outrage about foreign spying is from the uninformed. "OMG, we spy on our friends????" Last week I heard Peter King, Congressman from NY, relay a story about how a politician in France (?) was opposed to something we were doing to aid the Afghans against the Soviets. It turned out he was vested in some business venture that would have profited from a Soviet pipeline through Afghanistan (which we learned by spying on our "friends").

      • Because most of the outrage about foreign spying is from the uninformed.

        Uninformed? Perhaps people are just tired of warmongering governments and people who want safety above all else.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:28AM (#45335891)

    Following agents of a foreign country inside the territory of your own country is not the same as spying on the entire conencted population of the world. One is targeted and low key, aimed at the potentially nefarious activities of foreign nationals potentially connected to foregin security services, on your own territory, the other is a gross and global invasion of privacy. a total abuse of privileged position, a collosal breach of trust that undermines the safe usage of all forms of modern communication. No modern system that contains American or British electronics or communicates with systems or over connections held on the territory of those nations or their allies, is beyond suspicion. No router, no computer, no modem, no chip, no mobile. In fact those very devices should be considered as compromised and unfit for use.

  • I'm shocked! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cro Magnon (467622) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:33AM (#45335953) Homepage Journal

    I'm shocked that there's spying in this casino!

  • They're all scum (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chas (5144) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:33AM (#45335959) Homepage Journal

    Pretty sure that no country on earth is "clean" at this point.

    Keep this fully in mind when some country is spouting off on their outrage, or thinking about offering services because of their "strong privacy laws".

    None of these bastards, nor their successors, will hesitate for a fraction of a nanosecond if they think they'll gain something by violation of your rights.
    And if you think they will, because of something written down on a piece of paper someplace, you're fucking deluded.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:40AM (#45336029) Homepage
    governments routinely spy on eachother. Governments do not routinely spy wholesale on the citizens of other nations and claim it as their privilege.

    The concern remains as stated: a country that practices rendition, torture, and indefinite detention without trial is now spying on anyone and everyone. this is a country that has operated secret prisons and invaded without cause soverign nations. America bombs indiscriminately anyone it decides through secret process to be an enemy combatant with any unintentional target in the bombing posthumously declared an enemy combatant. This is a country that is perpetually at war, maintains the highest prison population in the world, and its now spying for all intents and purposes on absolutely everything and everyone. In my opinion as an American, concerns from the international community are absolutely valid and reasonable.
    • by Xaedalus (1192463) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .syladeaX.> on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @12:14PM (#45336393)
      We've been doing our damndest to change that, but when close to half the population -knowingly- and -willingly- supports said practices, plus benefits from a military-industrial economy that is geared up to specifically support that, then change is going to be a long time coming. Almost half our populace is tribalistic to the point where they are willing to support all of what you described, simply because it's done to those who aren't members of the tribe. Furthermore, the easy political solutions to this (liberal fascism, abolishment of the Congress and turning the Executive into a true tyrant, etc) come at too high a cost. What you're arguing about is the dark side of human nature... come back to me when you've come up with a cure that doesn't involve tyranny or death.
    • by Pav (4298)

      You often find what you look for in other people - every child knows this. The old man who shouts angrily at "those hoodlum kids" may find his sentiment confirmed, but if he thinks they're wonderful creatures deserving of a smile they may rise to his expectation. In the 80's America looked for heroes in Afghanistan and found them, and today amongst the same people it looks for terrorists. Now we find America regards the whole world including it's own citizens as potential terrorists, and this is very dan

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      Nonsense. The only reason historically that government (and by that I mean any government) didn't spy on everyone was a lack of resources, not some sort of ethical boundary. (Witness the Soviet surveillance state, with their relatively primitive tech.)

      Now with massive computing power, ubiquitous observation (you know, to protect us from "terrorists") and our digital-online lives, now they can accomplish nearly-universal surveillance, and do. To expect otherwise is grossly naive.

      "As an American" you have a

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:40AM (#45336037)
    Ah yes, the "He did it too!" defense. Now, what was it that mom or dad would say when you said that?
    • by Qzukk (229616)

      "But Bush!"

      Or if they're conservative, "But Clinton!"

    • Well, shit, if we go with what our parents taught us, most government activities go right out the window. I mean "It takes TWO people to fight!" means we'd have to shut down most military spending, then we'd have to spend a lot more on welfare!
    • Not at all. This isn't about one child claiming that the other child took a cookie, too. This is one child, upon finding out that the sibling took a cookie, says, "oh my, you know you should never, ever take a cookie without permission!" only to have to admit 5 minutes later that they surreptitiously took a cookie too.

      This isn't about whether it's right or wrong, it's about getting caught in a double standard.

      • Not at all. This isn't about one child claiming that the other child took a cookie, too. This is one child, upon finding out that the sibling took a cookie, says, "oh my, you know you should never, ever take a cookie without permission!" only to have to admit 5 minutes later that they surreptitiously took a cookie too.

        OK, so now spying on a handful of diplomats (Read: spies by another name) within your own borders is exactly equivalent to gobbling up and storing indefinitely the communications of every single human on the planet? You do realize there's just a bit of a difference in scale and scope, don't you?

        This isn't about whether it's right or wrong, it's about getting caught in a double standard.

        Is it against Brazilian law to spy on diplomats within Brazil? Because if not, then no, there is no double standard - Brazil would be operating within the constraints of their own legal system, whereas the US governm

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @11:48AM (#45336121)

    Dear NSA,
    The fact that another country spies on the US doesn't make what you did any more legal, acceptable or less egregious.

    Sincerely,
    Most of the US population

    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @12:23PM (#45336467) Journal

      The next time you say, "how the fuck did they not see that coming," remember that you were the one who told them to keep their eyes closed and their ears covered.

    • My first thought when hearing about Brazil spying is that some "pro Brazil" patriot would tell some citizen that "at least we don't spy AS MUCH as the NSA does on the USA."

      Because Patriots in the USA compare us to China.

      Are the Chinese patriots going to say all is well because of Brazil, or do they just scrape the bottom of the barrel to say "we are better than North Korea."

      America with justice, liberty and freedom for all!*
      *NOTE: all results graded on a curve.

  • Well, as long as it's legal, I see no ethical dilemmas. And as long as I can make up laws with no oversight I don't see any practical dilemmas either.

    The distinguishing mark of a true criminal (and not simply a lawbreaker) is an extralegal mentality: "the law applies to others (and with extreme prejudice), but not to me." To these people the law is often mrely a tool to achieve political ends - though sometimes it is an obstacle - but in and of itself is meaningless. Unfortunately, many of these people end

  • ...or just spillover from outrage at domestic surveillance?

    It strikes me that at first we had the outrage about NSA collecting information on Americans and conducting espionage that infringes on the privacy of Americans.

    Then we had revelations of intensive surveillance of friendly governments with outrage at that. I get (but don't totally agree with) the outrage this may have had in Germany, but it seems a little bit misplaced domestically in the US and I don't completely understand why Americans would be

  • NSA spying on foreign governments (even allies) is one of the most basic functions of pretty much any state intelligence operation. We spy on them, they spy on us, and this is the way it's always been.

    This has been why, other than pearl clutching, there have been precisely zero real consequences for our relations with other countries... once you start punishing allies for spying on you, soon enough you won't have any allies left.

    None of this excuses the NSA's domestic activities, but acting like there's so

  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Tuesday November 05, 2013 @01:07PM (#45336859)
    ...is hardly comparable to spying on foreign heads of state in their own countries, or even spying on your own citizens.
  • There's a degree to which one watches each other, that used to be unspoken. IMHO, it needs to be publicized widely as "we will spy on your spies". Canada's RCMP, and the U.S. FBI are supposed to be counter-spies and spy on enemy spies.

    They not only should do so, but they should be seen to do so. Brazil's ABIN, if they're the FBI-equivalent, should do so too.

    Then we can go back to looking for regular evil spies and shooting them (:-))

    --dave

  • How many times did I state that every country on earth does this kind of thing only to get labelled a troll by the naive tin foil hat crowd? I've said before and I'll say again that every country on earth spies to the greatest extent that their resources allows. This has been true since pre-history times. The naive acted outraged and pretended only a single party was responsible for such things.

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