By Ernest A. Canning on 10/29/2013, 6:19pm PT  

New revelations and global protests by ordinary citizens and world leaders --- including U.S. allies --- over NSA surveillance, have now settled into an almost daily affair.

In the meantime, during an interview on Democracy Now! this week, journalist Glenn Greenwald offered up an analysis that may help explain what he now describes as an "institutional obsession" with surveillance by the U.S. government.

"If you reveal to populations around the world that their calls are being spied on by the millions, they’ll first wonder, 'Why are my calls of interest to the U.S. government?'," Greenwald observes. "But when it becomes apparent that the United States government is doing this for economic advantage, they start to feel personally implicated, like they’re being actually robbed."

While readers would do well to watch the entirety of the interview (see video below), the analysis offered within by Greenwald is especially poignant because it ties the NSA’s massive surveillance state in many of these foreign countries, not to the prevention of terrorism, but to the seemingly insatiable quest on the part of the U.S.-based, corporate global empire to secure economic advantage...

Greenwald touched upon the subject in a previous article at the The Guardian in which he revealed that the U.S. had not only spied upon Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, but that the NSA, under its "Blackpearl program", had targeted Brazil's state majority owned oil company, Petrobras, along with other "energy companies, financial programs and airlines". The targeting, he explained at the time, suggests the NSA has strayed "beyond its core mission of national security."

During this week's Democracy Now! interview, Greenwald went further. He noted that the U.S. spied "on the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy in conjunction with the Canadian intelligence service, which just happens to oversee the industry in Brazil in which Canadian companies have the greatest interest." Greenwald, who lives in Brazil, where he has been reporting on a treasure trove of leaked documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, cited "extreme levels of surveillance" directed at Central and Latin American economic conferences. He went on to accuse the U.S. government of the very same type of industrial espionage that it repeatedly lays at the doorstep of the Chinese government.

"People understand that the reason they’re spying on Petrobras or on the Ministry of Mines and Energy or economic conferences isn’t because they think there are terrorists or other bad people inside those institutions," Greenwald explained during the interview. "It’s because the United States government wants undue economic advantage --- exactly what they denied they do and what they claim only China does."

Greenwald is by no means alone in his assessment. Washington's Blog offers a compendium of articles that accuse the NSA of engaging in global industrial espionage, specifically citing cases in France, Mexico, Brazil and China. The compendium also links to an article that appeared in Der Spiegel, which reported that "Snowden's revelations...left German firms feeling acutely vulnerable to industrial espionage."

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Video of Glenn Greenwald's 10/28/2013 interview on Democracy Now! follows below...

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Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing.