The documents, provided to “Fantastico” by Rio-based journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has collaborated with Snowden, included a slide labeled “top secret” in which Petrobras was named as a target among a group of companies. The program said the NSA focused on the oil giant’s computer network, as well as on those of Google and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a European firm that enables money transfers.
The show did not disclose why Petrobras or the other companies would be targeted, although the “Fantastico” report said the documents were part of a presentation used to train new agents about how to breach private computer networks.
James R. Clapper Jr., the director of U.S. national intelligence, said in a statement that “it is not a secret” that the intelligence community collects information “about economic and financial matters, and terrorist financing.”
“What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies,” Clapper said.
The exposé was the second in a week made possible by Greenwald, who writes for Britain’s Guardian newspaper. The previous Sunday, “Fantastico” used a variety of NSA slides to reveal American government monitoring of phone communications and the e-mails of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Those disclosures caused an uproar in Brazil. Rousseff sought out Obama on the sidelines of last week’s Group of 20 summit in Russia. She later expressed dissatisfaction with the American response to her concerns and said she expected the Obama administration to provide a more detailed explanation by Wednesday.
But news that an American intelligence agency has shown interest in Petrobras is sure to rankle officials here, both because of the Obama administration’s claims that its spying was aimed at thwarting terrorist threats and the sensitivity Brazilians have about foreign meddling when it comes to the country’s natural resources.
“The revelations suggest that the U.S. went way too far, beyond any reasonable justification of containing security threats,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue, speaking in general about revelations of U.S. spying in Brazil. “Such an overreach is disrespectful and has touched a real nerve in Brazil, a country that prizes its sovereignty and is understandably sensitive about such abuses.”