Here in Brazil, another fascinating little scandal is playing out, as you may have read briefly in the International Herald Tribune (which apparently considers New Jersey and Brooklyn to be foreign nations.)
Veja magazine (Veja lies) recently published a transcript of a conversation between an opposition senator and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, saying it had an anonymous source who could confirm that agents of the Brazilian National Intelligence Agency (ABIN) had bugged the two.
The magazine has produced no material evidence to back its claim, and has not identified its source. In the meantime, the Chief Justice has engaged in a crusade against “the police state,” “prosecutorial militias,” “the politicized Gestapo” … you name it, the guy has said it. (His official agenda shows him meeting with senior executives of the Editora Abril, Veja’s publisher, recently, as I read and then confirmed on the court’s Web site.)
The Minister of Defense — a personal friend of an Opportunity executive indicted in the Daniel Dantas case — presented what he said was evidence that ABIN possessed equipment that could have intercepted the (VoIP to cellular, and routed through the Senate switchboard) call, then called for the suspension of ABIN director Lacerda, director of the federal police.
Two technical reports have now ruled out the proposition that the equipment ABIN has — a bug-sweeping “suitcase” — could have intercepted the call. The Minister of Defense is being called a liar by a lot of people now. Expect him to sign off on the order for those French submarines and then se mandar.
In May 2006, Veja magazine had published a “dossier” charging top Tupi fed Lacerda with having a bribe-stuffed offshore bank account.
The dossier, according to Veja, was prepared by (ex-?) Kroll employee Frank Holder at the behest of banker Daniel Dantas — recently arrested by the federal police for bribery, money laundering, and tax evasion. See also
The magistrate, a certain Judge de Sanctis, who presides over a special federal anti-organized crime court in Sao Paulo (on the Italian model), and who authorized the wiretaps in the latest Dantas criminl case, has been formally accused of authorizing or failing to prevent the illegal bugging of officials (the senator, the Chief Justice) outside the purview of the case.
A special commission on illegal wiretapping has meanwhile been doing its damnedest to get the judge to reveal the contents of the investigation against Dantas, which continues and is under seal.
Barring the bugging of the officials (if they were in fact bugged) by ABIN and the federal police — which seems less and less likely — another line of inquiry is that the bugging was accomplished through the communications infrastructure of the Senate itself.
Now, here’s the peculiar thing: We have heard this whole story before.
Communications security breached at the Senate, and the illegal abuse of wiretap authorizations to spy on political enemies.
Only the names have changed.
In the previous cases, the man at the center of the plot was the late Sen. Antonio Carlos “Toninho Malvadezas” Magalhães — the subject of that bizarre, Oriana Fallaci-style “now there was a man” obituary by Larry Rohter of the New York Times.
The Folha de S. Paulo daily newspaper produced brief histories of the two cases when the Senator died late last year (to be replaced in his Senate seat by his son, Magalhães Jr.)
I wanted to translate them into my scrapbook on the scandal, with some observations.
First and foremost, the observation that when Magalhães bugged his political enemies and violated the confidentiality of the electronic voting board on the Senate floor — also a form of bugging — no special commission was set up to investigate illegal bugging.
The current commission on illegal bugging, as I have noted before, includes members who have been overheard on legal wiretaps engaging in conversations with indicted criminals suspects, and talking about what sound a bit like criminal activities — such as having potential informants against them whacked the fuck out.
At any rate, my hasty translation to file follows.
How Magalhães Hacked the Brazilian Senate
Between May 30, 2001 2001 and January 1, 2003, Antônio Carlos Magalhães, who died aged 79 this Friday, lived through a period atypical of his political career: He held no public office. The period coincided with the time between his resignation from the Senate and his reelection to the federal Congress.
In early 2000, then Senator Jader Barbalho (PMDB-PA) threw his hat in the ring as a candidate to succeed ACM, his politial enemy, as president of the Senate. ACM backed the candidacy of Arlindo Porto (PTB-MG) to try to block the victory of Barbalho. The dispute involved a series of attacks between the candidates and their allies. Barbalho was accused of involvement in fraud at the Superintendência de Desenvolvimento da Amazônia (Sudam) and of taking part in a scheme to defraud the state bank of Pará.