Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mexico losing patience with U.S. spying on its leaders

And more juicy tidbits are on the way, promises journalist Glenn Greenwald

Guadalajara -
Mexican secretary of government Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong may have been conspicuously ignored by his boss at a security conference last week, but today president Enrique Peña Nieto placed him at the top of the batting lineup to deal with the latest revelations of National Security Agency spying on world leaders, especially Mexico's.

Six weeks ago U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, who writes for the U.K. newspaper The Guardian, reported that Peña Nieto was a target of NSA spying before he was elected on July 1, 2012. The U.S. security agency tapped into the president's personal email account, with subsequent stories claiming that over 85,000 text messages exchanged between the then PRI candidate and his political advisers were electronically captured. Guardian journalist: U.S. spied on Peña Nieto before he was elected.

Soon after, the Mexican president had a tête-à-tête with Barack Obama while the men were in St. Petersburg for an economic summit. The latter promised to "look into things," and both leaders said the snooping disclosures would not affect Mexican-American relations. Enrique Peña Nieto speaks directly to Barack Obama about NSA spying in Mexico.

Matters got worse over the weekend when new revelations surfaced that the NSA program focusing on Mexico was in operation by May 2010, long before Peña Nieto took office. The original target was former National Action President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, who now holds a chair at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In Cambridge, Calderón went mildly ballistic over the news.

Obama has issued a brief statement emphasizing he never authorized or had personal knowledge of the NSA operations, but that won't be enough to placate fiery tempers in Mexico City. Osorio Chong delivered an unsmiling nationally televised statement this afternoon, demanding that the U.S. launch an "in depth" investigation of why Mexico and its last two presidents were targeted by NSA. Several hours earlier, Mexican Foreign Minister José Antonio Meade did exactly the same. It appears the PRI administration has more than had its fill of email and text snooping by Big Brother to the north.

Peña Nieto ordered Osorio Chong to conduct his own investigation of public servants in the previous administration, to determine whether they cooperated with NSA and the Mexican telecommunications providers without whose support it could not have carried out the extensive electronic eavesdropping. The irony of this case is that Calderón himself may have authorized NSA operations in Mexico several years ago as an "off the books" component of the 2007 Mérida Initiative (U.S. carried out electronic spying in Mexico), only to now discover that his communications in office were intercepted as well.

Pity America's caught-in-the-middle ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne, who got one invitation to the woodshed behind Los Pinos last month and has now been summoned again, with instructions to grab his ankles and assume the position. Mexico roars back over U.S. spying on Peña Nieto.

In the meantime the man who blew the whistle on NSA spying last spring, one Edward Snowden, is enjoying White Russians and Black Russians (the cocktails, that is) in a cozy Moscow flat. Snowden is Greenwald's ultimate source for the latest disclosures, of course, and yesterday the latter promised that many more tasty reports are on the way. "Will some involve Latin America?", he was asked. "For sure," Greenwald replied, suggesting new headaches are just ahead for Washington and the Spanish speaking partners with which it must deal. Edward Snowden: Washington's massive miscalculation.

Oct. 25 - U.S. DEA gets its wings clipped in Mexico

Spanish commentary
Oct. 22 - SinEmbargo: Peña Nieto's response to NSA spying has been lukewarm
Oct. 21 - Der Spiegel: NSA broke into Mexican presidential email accounts for years
Oct. 21 - Desde 2010, Presidencia era espiada por EU

MGR articles on Edward Snowden; PRISM
July 13 - A message from Moscow
July 10 - Enrique Peña Nieto: American espionage "totally unacceptable"
July 10 - Mexico turns up heat on U.S. over PRISM surveillance
July 8 - Brazilian newspaper says NSA intercepted millions of phone calls, emails
June 30 - Barack Obama - before and after, in his own words

Related content
Oct. 8, 2012 - Peña Nieto's Colombian drug war consultant is a U.S. informant

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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