The report said the NSA had amassed military and security data on Venezuela, an American adversary that supports Syria. But O Globo said the agency also had spied on Colombia, the United States’ closest ally on the continent, and carried out surveillance operations to unearth commercial information about the energy sector in Mexico, which is under state control and essentially closed to foreign investment.
The next report, on the monitoring of Rousseff’s and Peña Nieto’s communications, put Obama on the defensive as he arrived in Russia for the G-20 summit, where his focus had been to drum up support for a U.S. military strike against Syria.
An angry Rousseff, after meeting with Obama, told reporters that she didn’t understand how the United States could defend spying on a democratic country, violating the privacy of its people.
“I made him see that the relationship that we had, based on the fact that we are big democracies in this part of the world, is incompatible with the act of spying,” she said in recounting the meeting.
Obama told reporters that American intelligence agencies are not “snooping at people’s e-mails or listening to their phone calls.” He also said that the United States would “step back and review what it is that we’re doing.”
“What we try to do is to target, very specifically, areas of concern,” the president said, speaking about counterterrorism and other security concerns, according to Reuters.
Brazilian officials have been skeptical about the American explanations. The communications minister, Paulo Bernardo, speaking to reporters last week, said that “all of the explanations that have been given to us from the beginning of these episodes have proven to be false.”
“I think it is indiscriminate spying that has nothing to do with national security,” Bernardo said. “It’s espionage with a commercial, industrial aim.”
With the latest disclosures, analysts say pressure may be mounting on Rousseff, a center-left technocrat who is expected to run for reelection next year, to cancel her state dinner in Washington next month, the only such visit organized by the White House this year.
“That would be unfortunate, but may be tough to prevent if reports of U.S. surveillance in Brazil continue to emerge,” Shifter said. “Obama’s promises of reviewing such spying allegations fall short of what Dilma needs politically to proceed with the visit.”