"To Heck With Ethics." The Chief Justice called the article on his alleged conflicts of interest "hired-assassin journalism." But Leandro Fortes is an honorable man.
Did someone bug the Chief Justice of the Brazilian Supreme Court?
It has been widely reported that the Brazlian National Intelligence Agency did, but because the evidence is slim to nonexistent, the message is ambiguous — and the messenger even more so.
Brazilian economic and business commentator Luis Nassif has been carrying on a fascinating online colloquy with the press office of the Brazilian Supreme Court recently on the subject.
I say “fascinating” because it is unusual for a public institution — much less the Supreme Court! — to engage in an open debate in a public space — much less with a mere “blogger”!
(Nassif is, of course, actually a seasoned professional: He also works as a TV commentator and syndicated columnist, and runs a seminar and news-service business of his own. But it is as a “blogger” that he has gotten the most attention lately.)
It is testimony, I suppose, first of all, to Nassif’s perceived influence as an “opinion maker.”
But try to imagine this as well: Chief Justice John Roberts makes an intensive round of press appearances claiming that They are out to get him, and that just because the FBI and Secret Service can find no evidence of malign actions by Them does not mean anything. The FBI and Secret Service could well be in it on it. [Cue theme music to The X-Files].
Justice Roberts might as well be wearing a tinfoil hat, you might be tempted to conclude. (It might be easier to imagine this if you pictured Clarence “High-Tech Lynch Mob” Thomas rather than the poker-faced and highly decorous Roberts.)
But something analogous is going on here in this intense information campaign being carried out by the Brazilian John Roberts.
You might conclude from this behavior that Brazilian judges do not get taught in judge school that ex parte remarks and colloquies tend to undermine the majesty of the law and create the impression of conflicts of interest.
But I am told by my sources that you would be wrong. There is a perfectly good Portuguese translation for the phrase, “Do your talking from the bench.” And judges are instructed, under the enabling legislation for the judicial branch, to follow it. Some feel they should not have to, though.
The specific context for the following: Nassif had noted a news item that raised the possibility that the Chief Justice of the Brazilian Supreme Court had himself been the source of a number of uncorroborated rumors (published in Veja magazine) that the Supreme Court was being illegally bugged, Nixonian plumbers-style.
Nassif raised the suspicion that the Chief Justice — a controversial figure for various reasons — had planted these rumors as part of some sort of a crude, preemptive disinformation campaign designed to position him as a victim.
A reader today takes the time to summarize the debate.
I translate for my running notes on the whole byzantine affair.
Esse jogo de perguntas e respostas em posts diferentes ficou confuso. Tomo a liberdade de organizar um trecho e repetir alugmas perguntas não respondidas.
This back and forth [between Nassif and the court spokesperson] has gotten confusing. I have taken the liberty of organizing a selection from the conversation and repeating some questions that have yet to be answered.
1. Quais as evidências que levaram o presidente do STF, Gilmar Mendes, a levantar a hipótese de grampo em diversos Ministros ou mesmo uma conspiração de tomada de poder – conforme reportagem de antes de ontem do jornal “O Valor”, do jornalista Raymundo Costa?
1. What was the evidence that led the Chief Justice to raise the hypothesis that various justices of the Court had been bugged, or even that there was a conspiracy to seize power, according to a report by Raymundo Costas, published the day before yesterday by Valor Economico?
Filed under: Brazil, Journalism, Politics | Tagged: abin, Gilmar Mendes, law, Privacy, supreme court, surveillance, veja | Leave a Comment »