During his visit to Brazil on Monday, former President Bill Clinton told the Brazilian news media that the United States' need for national security especially protection from terrorist attacks does not justify President Barack Obama's National Security Agency program that includes spying on allied countries.
In a local Brazilian newspaper, O Globo, Clinton blasted Obama's widespread espionage carried out in countries such as Brazil. Clinton mentioned that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's revelations regarding the NSA were at times troubling.
The United States has committed an injustice through its eavesdropping on Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff as well as the government-run oil company Petrobras, Clinton told the Brazilian news media. He also mentioned U.S. interception of the emails and telephone calls of millions of Brazilians.
"We should not be getting economic information under the pretext of security. Not with an ally," Clinton claimed..
The president -- who himself was accused of violating Americans' privacy rights through his own spy program called "Echelon" in the 1990's, as reported by Examiner -- noted that electronic surveillance can be used to track suspects of terrorism in the United States.
"The content of e-mails and calls is only monitored when a person has frequent contact with suspects of terrorism, and even so, it requires a court order," Clinton is quoted as saying.
Clinton slammed the Obama administration when he claimed there had been "a lack of transparency" regarding U.S. policy on electronic, high-tech eavesdropping.
"While many conservatives and Obama opponents are delighted to hear Clinton criticizing Obama, there are others who claim the man they call "Slick Willie" is a hypocrite since he's been involved in questionable intelligence operations," according to political strategist Mike Baker.
In an Examiner story in 2009 it was reported that:
In arguably the most secretive and far reaching electronic surveillance program ever created, the Clinton Administration and the National Security Agency employed a global spy system, code named Echelon, which monitored just about every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world.
The Echelon system was fairly simple in design: position intercept-stations all over the world to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications traffic, and then process this information through the massive computer capabilities of the NSA, including advanced voice recognition and optical character recognition programs. The system would look for code words or phrases (known as the Echelon Dictionary) that would prompt the computers to flag the message for recording and transcribing for future analysis.