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by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

December 18, 2013 - 5:34 pm

The U.S. lost a fighter jet contract with Brazil worth $4.5 billion in the wake of the South American country’s anger over revelations that President Obama’s intelligence agencies spied on the personal communications of President Dilma Rousseff.

Boeing was considered to be the front-runner for the contract with its F/A-18 Super Hornet until the leak from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Instead, the Brazilian air force will be supplied by Saab, with an initial order of 36 new Gripen NG fighters by 2020. Negotiations over the contract bids had been going on for years and Rousseff’s decision, which apparently caught all of the parties involved by surprise, came this morning, the Brazilian government said in a statement.

“We are indeed a peaceful country, but we will not be helpless,” Rousseff said. “…We have much to learn; it is important to be aware that a country the size of Brazil must always be ready to protect citizens, property and sovereignty.”

“We must be prepared to face any threat, defend our heritage in regions that already receive our attention, such as the Amazon,” she added.

Saab said the deal also includes long-term bilateral cooperation between the Brazilian and Swedish governments.

”I am extremely proud of the confidence that the Brazilian government has placed in Gripen NG. Saab regards the announcement today as a strong commitment of the Brazilian Government and we are looking forward to provide the Brazilian Air Force with the world-leading and most affordable fighter,” Saab CEO Håkan Buskhe said. “Furthermore, this announcement is very significant for the collaboration between Brazil and Sweden. We stand prepared to start the industrial collaboration as planned, with its positive effects for Brazilian industry.”

Sweden, South Africa, Hungary, Czech Republic, Thailand and the UK Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS) are already using the new Gripen system, which Saab calls “the world’s most agile fighter for close combat.”

A Brazilian official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that “the NSA problem ruined it for the Americans.”

Boeing, which opened a large office in Brazil just to show its commitment to the deal, said it was “disappointed” by the decision. France’s Dassault Aviation also competed for the contract, and President Francois Hollande lobbied for the deal on a visit to Brazil last week.

Privately, Americans close to the talks told reporters that what the administration gleaned through its spying can hardly outweigh the financial toll it took on U.S. industry today.

Rousseff’s decision comes just after Snowden wrote an open letter to the Brazilian people published in a newspaper there, offering to help the government investigate how the U.S. has spied on its leaders in exchange for asylum.

“I’ve expressed my willingness to assist where it’s appropriate and legal, but, unfortunately, the US government has been working hard to limit my ability to do so,” Snowden wrote.

“Until a country grants me permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak out.”

Brazilian senators have reached out to him for assistance in their hearings about how to re-route fiber-optic cables to lessen the chance of American agencies getting a peek into the country’s affairs. Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who broke the Snowden leaks, lives in Brazil.

White House press secretary Jay Carney, when asked whether the administration had been in touch with Brazil over the asylum request, told reporters today that “the broader issues with regards to Brazil and other nations and the disclosures are ones that we discuss directly with those nations through diplomatic channels and with our Brazilian counterparts, and that will continue.”

“We believe that Mr. Snowden ought to be returned to — ought to return to the United States, where he faces charges for leaking classified information and where he will receive full due process and protections,” Carney said.

At the UN General Assembly in September, Rousseff railed against the U.S. government from the podium just after canceling a visit to meet with Obama in Washington.

At the time, Carney said the new date for talks was Oct. 23, but that meeting still hasn’t happened.

“Meddling in such a manner in the lives and affairs of other countries is a breach of international law,” Rousseff told the UN. “And as such, it is an affrontment to the principles that should otherwise govern relations among countries, especially among friendly nations. A country’s sovereignty can never affirm itself to the detriment of another country’s sovereignty.”

“The right to security of a country’s citizens can never be ensured by violating the fundamental human and civil rights of another country’s citizens. Even worse, when private sector companies uphold this type of spying activity,” she continued. “The argument that illegal interception of information and data is allegedly intended to protect nations against terrorism is untenable.”

“Without the right to privacy, there is no real freedom of speech or freedom of opinion. And, therefore, there is no actual democracy. Without respect of sovereignty, there is no base for proper relations among nations.”

Rousseff said the international community is now faced with “a serious case of violation of human rights and civil liberties, a case of invasion and capture of confidential secret information pertaining to business activities. And, above all, a case of disrespect to national sovereignty, the national sovereignty of my country.”

“We have let the U.S. government know about our protests, by demanding explanations, apologies and guarantees that such acts or procedures will never be repeated again,” she said. “Friendly governments and societies that seek to consolidate a truly strategic partnership, such as is our case, cannot possibly allow recurring and illegal actions to go on as if they were normal, ordinary practice. Such actions are totally unacceptable.”

“…The problem, however, goes beyond the bilateral relations of two countries. It affects the international community itself and, as such, requires an answer from it.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
The F/A 18 sports twin GE turbofan power plants. GE just lost a big order as a subcontractor. After all the years of GE's CEO Immelt sucking up to Obama, this is what he has to show for it.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (21)
All Comments   (21)
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Chinese security circles debate growing US war threat By John Chan 19 December 2013

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/19/chin-d19.html
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
A bigger concern should be the loss of trust, influence and stability in the world, not a contract for some jets.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
A new method for "exporting" American jobs is found........
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Snowden should be given amnesty, a big parade, set up with a decent job and residence. Then left alone until we shoot him in the head!!
Exposing mass data collection is one thing, ruining foreign relations, possibly giving up capabilities and methods is quite another - He went too far.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's sad to see so many free-thinking Americans be so blinded in their prejudice against Obama that they fail to see the folly of exporting America's premier multi-role aircraft to Brazil. Prior to the NSA flap, Obama did not stand a good chance of securing the required technology transfer agreements, especially in the House, as the Brazilians now demand for both civil and defense purchases. The Europeans with their Saab and Typhoon packages always were more able to supply inferior planes more cheaply and with fewer strings attached. There is plenty to lambast the President about, unfocused ranting does little to dispel the notion that all conservatives knee-jerkingly resist Obama.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
But it is so easy to do. Barry could have sold the planes with all out the options. We do it all the time. We do not even give Israel all of our best stuff - as if they don't have their own technology.
At this point our President has hobbled himself with his own incompetence so badly..the MSM is even starting to hack him up. It is our duty to resist socialism, always!
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The F/A 18 sports twin GE turbofan power plants. GE just lost a big order as a subcontractor. After all the years of GE's CEO Immelt sucking up to Obama, this is what he has to show for it.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gippen uses the same engine
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why do intelligence agencies tap into the phones of world leaders? Because they can. If I were a security agent, I'd sort of think, why send people into dangerous situations running around foreign capitals when you can go straight to the top and listen in from home?
Now America is in trouble with Germany and Brazil, and Australia with Indonesia. The question is, is it right to do this.
Who knows how many more bombs Snowden is going to drop as he doles out documents, but the fact is that world leaders have to assume now that their personal communications are being bugged. The ones who find out are going to be indignant, but it might get to the stage someday where someone insignificant is going to be outraged that he or she wasn't bugged.
As Snowden releases more documents, the media will find them less sensational, and the matter will die a natural death. World leaders very well know that more is known about their private lives than any ordinary person's and would not genuinely be surprised at any surveillance.
But it comes in handy when you want to get out of a contract. I can't see the SAABs being better than the Super Hornets but I'd hazard a guess that they were cheaper.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
It just occurred to me that, rather than being in danger, Snowden may wind up being the most protected man alive. The best assassins' work is never even noticed so, in that sense, we can assume he isn't dead!

I would be very surprised if Snowden didn't have a protective network, a 'deadman switch cadre' designed to set in motion a cascade of info should anything 'happen' to him.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
So for the Obama administration, is hurting American business a bug or a feature?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just saw a headline saying Obama's domestic approval numbers are lower than his foreign relations numbers.

...that didn't last very long...
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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