US Mass Spying Targets Mexico Presidents to Advance the Drug War

In contrast to the counter-terrorism narrative used to defend the US government’s mass spying program, unfolding revelations suggest the program’s Latin America efforts are focused on much besides terrorism. First, evidence arose that the US spying program, alone and in coordination with spying programs of other nations, is engaging in industrial espionage against Brazilian companies and the Brazil government’s mines and energy ministry. Now, new revelations suggest that the US spying program targeted current and former Mexican presidents, along with other high level Mexican government officials, for surveillance to advance the war on drugs.

Jens Glüsing, Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, and Holger Stark provide the new revelations regarding Mexico today in a Der Spiegel article, including that the US National Security Agency, working with the US Central Intelligence Agency, has since at least May 2010 snooped on the email communications of high level Mexican government officials including Presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as cabinet members. The article goes on to explain that another spying operation the NSA called “whitetamale” focused on a Mexican government department conducting Mexico’s drug war:

In August 2009, according to internal documents, the agency gained access to the emails of various high-ranking officials in Mexico’s Public Security Secretariat that combats the drug trade and human trafficking. This hacking operation allowed the NSA not only to obtain information on several drug cartels, but also to gain access to “diplomatic talking-points.” In the space of a single year, according to the internal documents, this operation produced 260 classified reports that allowed US politicians to conduct successful talks on political issues and to plan international investments.

It may be more than a coincidence that August 2009 is also when the Mexican government enacted legislation decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of various drugs including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and methamphetamine.

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