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Siemens Case | The Dirty Low Down

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You can learn a lot about infowar from reading the greater São Paulo Metro Area fourth estate.

Take the most recent exchange of rhetorical artillery today. It goes like this:

But the co-called investigation the state government is pushing, and which the media are treating as if it were serious, is nothing but political theater.

But what to use for counterbattery fire in an argument over the relative integrity of two conflicting accusations?

Generally this requires undercutting  and occupying the moral high ground — appealing to nihilism if you have to. Painting accusers as political persecutors is a frequent tactic.

That is exactly the indirect counterargument produced by Reinaldo Azevedo (Veja)  in his latest column.

Finally, a scandalous and proven fact in the Siemens case: the head of antitrust agency CADE once worked for a Workers Party (PT) legislator.

The mask of objectivity falls and the face of a PT figurehead emerges. 

In this way, Azevedo open the door to a frequently used accusation: That the PSDB-DEM are victims of political persecution. In this case, the party running for cover is Governor Geraldo Alckmin, whose state comptroller-general

has mounted [a Potemkin village] with the support of the major news media. Globo’s Jornal Nacional, for example, ran a piece last Tuesday that tries to convince the viewer that the government of São Paulo is investigating alongside the federal police and the prosecutor (MP).

See again:

Reinaldo continues:

… As you will find in the files — yes, I always look back over what I have written because memory is a necessary art — I have never alleged the innocence of this or that figure in the Siemens case. Let it be investigated. What I have done in this case is something: different:

(a) I ask myself how a confidential proceeding could be leaking to journalists who are said to exclusively support the government of São Paulo;

The reference is to the Estado de S. Paulo, a conservative daily whose coverage of the affair has been excellent.

(b:) I ask myself why confidentiality only applied to the state government but not to other leakers;

(c) I asked myself if CADE had, in the end, conducted an internal inquiry to identify the sources of all these leaks (it obviously has not);

(d) I asked myself if Siemens, which continues to hold billionaire contracts with the federal government, especially in the energy sector, had anything to say about their negotiations with “the comrades;”

The comrades are the left-leaning PT — the biblical locusts of Brazilian politics, according to oppositionists.

(e) I asked myself if the notorious PT leader Vinícius Marques de Carvalho was conducting himself with due impartiality as president of CADE;

(f)  asked myself whether CADE has the power to condemn, using media leaks, even before investigating.

The answers — or “the answer” — to all these question is provided by Andreza Matais and Fábio Fabrini of the Estado de S. Paulo today. The answer in every case in no!

The story referred to reports an initiative by the PSDB to question CADE leadership on exactly this point: their impartiality

PSDB announced today that it would attempt to summon Gilberto Carvalho (secretary-general of the Presidency) and José Eduardo Cardozo (Minister of Justice ) and invite the president of CADE, Vinicius Carvalho, to be questioned in a congressional committee. The Toucan seeks explanations for the fact that he omitted having served as an aide to state deputy Simão Pedro (PT-SP), as the Estado de S. Paulo reports today.

“This is the usual practice of the PT: The State is there to serve its convenience. The end justifies the means, in their eyes. We want a wide-ranging investigation,” said PSDB leader Carlos Sampaio (SP).

It does take much experience in the hermeneutic arts to perceive that Reinaldo is simply plagiarizing and launching his text into the echo chamber.

Vinícius Marques Carvalho does not have the necessary impartiality to preside over thecase. HE WAS — WHAT A COINCIDENCE! — CHIEF OF STAFF OF STATE DEPUTY SIMÃO PEDRO (PT) FROM MARCH 2003 TO JANUARY 2004.

Simão Pedro? He is the current Secretary of Services for Haddad in the city government. In 2011, he filed a case with the MP to investigate the conduct of Siemens in the subway and commuter rail systems.  Em 2012, he returned to same office. That same year, his former boss took over at CADE and — what a coincidence — entered into that so-called “plea bargain” with a special focus on São Paulo. It looks like the bullies have little curiosity about the federal government’s relationship with Siemens.

Lies By Omission

To this point, the reader may be thinking: “Well, so what, Reinaldo, if the president of CADE was an aide to a PT deputy who was always making accusations? This was a public fact, was it not?”

THE ANSWER IS: NO!!! Carvalho omitted from his CV his work for the PT legislator. A CV of Carvalho’s, when he was merely a councillor of CADE, sent to the Senate in 2010 to then chief of staff, Erenice Guerra, lists his professional activities between February 2002 and January 2003 and from February 2005 and February 2006. Bidu!

He left out exactly the same period in which he worked for Simão Pedro. In 2012, it was the turn of minister Gleisi Hoffmann to do the same thing — he was a candidate to lead the agency. Once again, the services rendered to the PT deputy were not listed.

How does Carvalho explain the lack of transparency? Well, he says it was probably an “oversight.” provavelmente was lapse.

I enjoy words. “Probable oversight” means that he himself is not certain of this. If it sticks, it sticks. It is a better answer however, than the one given by Ze Dirceu, which will live on in history: “I am more and more convinced of my  own innocence.” He himself starts off admitting it is going to be hard to believe.

Simão Pedro, meanwhile, as a secretary of Mayor Haddad, has a sense of humor — even if the joke is not all that funny. He told the Estado de S. Paulo that his relationship with the CADE president is one of “friendship” and has not interfered with due process in the case. He waxes poetic: “It is a damned coincidence of destiny.” You don’t have to tell me!

In short, the Veja columnist borrows an ad hominem argument to attempt to undermine the integrity antitrust body CADE,, which based on other coverage today presents a serious threat to the political establishment.

Also used is the tempest in the teapot argument. The questioning of the CADE executive’s bona fides is treated as equally interesting and relevant as the other.