Mon Jul 8, 2013, 06:11 PM
Catherina (35,568 posts)
Today's State Dept Brief - Brazil, Venezuela, Snowden, Bolivia- Plane, China, Guyana, Singapore
(If you're in a rush, it's a funny bunch of nothing lol)
QUESTION: Can I ask a question about Brazil?
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: Could you confirm whether, with or without the consent or an agreement with the Brazilian Government, the United States Government has maintained a database of monitoring or a monitoring center in Brasilia or have ever collected data at the Embassy of Brazil in Washington or at the Embassy of Brazil in the United Nations using physical devices installed in computers and using software such as Highlands, Vagrant, and Lifesaver?
MS. PSAKI: Well, as has been our policy, we’re not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity. As a matter of policy, we have been clear that the United States does gather foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations. I can tell you that we have spoken with Brazilian officials regarding these allegations. We plan to continue our dialogue with the Brazilians through normal diplomatic channels, but those are conversations that, of course, we would keep private.
QUESTION: To clarify, the physical presence of devices of the United States in consulates or embassies of Brazil anywhere in the world, can you confirm that existence or not?
MS. PSAKI: I do not have anything more for you on that.
QUESTION: Can I have a follow-up on Latin America --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: -- and Mr. Snowden --
QUESTION: No, no. Still Brazil?
MS. PSAKI: Okay, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, yes. I wonder regarding the reaction of Brazilian officials, among them the Minister of Foreign Relations Antonio Patriota, I wanted to know how much this issue can contaminate the visit of President Dilma Rousseff to United States in October.
MS. PSAKI: Well, clearly, as I mentioned, we’ve been already in touch with Brazilian authorities regarding these allegations and we’re planning to continue that dialogue. We work with Brazil on a wide range of issues and we are hopeful that we can continue to discuss and resolve through normal diplomatic conversations.
QUESTION: Who’s in this side of the diplomatic channel in the U.S. side? Who is talking to the Brazilian Government? Can you tell us?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any specific readout of officials for – on that for you.
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry has talked with Minister Antonio Patriota or --
MS. PSAKI: Not that I’m aware of in recent days. I’m happy to check on that for you and see if there has been a call I’m just not aware of.
QUESTION: Is that the first time that the United States have faced these sort of queries from Brazil, these sort of clarifying requests from Brazil?
MS. PSAKI: I’d leave that to you to determine historically if this has been an issue in the past. But obviously, this is a unique case. We all know the history here. We’re in close contact and we’ll continue those conversations.
QUESTION: Since 2001, has Brazil agreed to collaborate with United States in data mining or data reporting?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything more on this for you.
QUESTION: Jen, is that (inaudible) Turkish Government --
MS. PSAKI: Hold on, let’s finish on Brazil and then we can go to you next, if that’s okay.
QUESTION: Actually, it’s on Venezuela.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, okay.
QUESTION: Okay. It is regarding Mr. Snowden, as you probably are aware that Mr. Snowden has been granted asylum. Venezuela has granted asylum to Mr. Snowden among two other countries in Latin America. I was wondering if you have any reaction on that or if this is going to have any impact considering that the U.S. and Venezuela are trying to work on their bilateral relation.
MS. PSAKI: So let me say first that, of course, as in all of our communications with foreign governments regarding Mr. Snowden, we have advised the Government of Venezuela of the felony charges against him and urged that he should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel other than as necessary to return him to the United States. We’ve had our differences with Venezuela on some issues, but we’ve also been able to work together on some. And this is a case where, as someone who’s facing felony charges, we’re hopeful that any government involved would take that into account and support his return to the United States.
As you know, this is all, at this point, a hypothetical given he still remains in the transit room, if that’s the right term, in the airport in Moscow.
QUESTION: Is it your determination that in order for him – that he is physically unable to make it from Russia to Venezuela or Bolivia or one of those countries without transit – without having to refuel through a third country that wouldn’t necessarily provide him with – that wouldn’t agree not to – would agree to extradite him?
MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s speculating a few steps down the path here, because obviously we know that he would need to transfer somewhere out of there. We’ve been very clear to governments across the board of our desire to have Mr. Snowden returned to the United States. I don’t think there’s any secret of that. In terms of the paths or steps, I mean, you’d have to either look at the airport maps or talk to the various governments that could be the options.
QUESTION: So where do things stand right now in terms of – is your – kind of – I know you’re casting a wide net in countries not to admit him or to extradite him and not to give him asylum, but, like, where is kind of the frontline of your diplomacy right now in this? This is with Russia, to try and urge them to send him back or --
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t want to get into too many levels of specifics here, but obviously we have been in touch with a wide range of officials. It’s no secret where he is located now. We agree with the comments of President Putin last week that we wouldn’t want this to impact our relationship. We certainly feel that anyone – any country granting asylum to Mr. Snowden would create grave difficulties in our bilateral relationship, and that’s a message that we’ve conveyed publicly and, of course, privately in conversations as well.
QUESTION: Jen --
QUESTION: Specifically on Venezuela, you said we’ve had our disagreements with Venezuela, but we have been able to cooperate on some issues. Is that what you said?
MS. PSAKI: I did.
QUESTION: Can you name one issue since the election of Chavez that the United States and Venezuela have cooperated on?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think I was making a broad point there and making a point about the fact that the Secretary also --
QUESTION: In other words, no.
MS. PSAKI: Let me finish. The Secretary also had a meeting, as you know, with the Foreign Minister that was a potential opening. We’re not getting ahead of where we are, but of course we would look closely and it would certainly impact our bilateral relationship if any country, including Venezuela, were to grant him asylum.
QUESTION: Right, right. No, no. I just want to – so you would point to the meeting that happened in Guatemala as a sign of cooperation, as one of the few areas of cooperation between Venezuela and the United States since President Chavez was elected. I realize this is now President Maduro.
MS. PSAKI: Yes.
QUESTION: But I’m asking you if you can – you would say that that’s evidence of cooperation, a meeting?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think what we’re looking to do --
QUESTION: Can you name --
MS. PSAKI: -- is re-step our relationship here. That’s where we’re hoping to go.
QUESTION: Right. And this would be a problem?
MS. PSAKI: This would be a problem. Absolutely.
QUESTION: Jen, can I ask – Kommersant Daily in Russia has reported today that – quoting State Department sources – that the Putin administration has been told that if this is not resolved by September, this could threaten a potential state visit by President Obama.
MS. PSAKI: I believe the White House disputed that this weekend. I would point you to them for any specific comment on that.
QUESTION: I don’t think they did, because my White House colleague said that he wasn’t getting any information from the White House about this.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I would point you to them for any comment on that specifically.
QUESTION: But, I mean, is the State Department – is there any knowledge at the State Department that this would be the case?
MS. PSAKI: None that I’m aware of.
QUESTION: Can I make a follow-up on what you said regarding that you have told Venezuela about the inconvenience of granted asylum to Mr. Snowden?
MS. PSAKI: And just to be clear, it’s not – it’s broadly any country where he could move through transit --
QUESTION: It’s not specifically to Venezuela, so you have --
MS. PSAKI: It is any country where he may be moving in transit, where he could end up, and certainly any country that were to grant asylum, that could have an impact, of course, on our bilateral relationship.
QUESTION: But you haven’t been in touch with Venezuela or with any government official in that regard?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I know we’ve communicated that publicly. I’m not aware of the most recent private calls or private conversations.
QUESTION: Because I wanted to know if it’s with the new person, the charge d’affaires, who is coming to Washington. Did you make that specific request to him, or --
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on the channel for you and see if that’s something we can share more details on.
QUESTION: On that, do you know if there’s been a second meeting between Roberta Jacobson and Venezuelans?
MS. PSAKI: I --
QUESTION: Has the rapprochement gone beyond --
MS. PSAKI: Sure, Matt. I’m not aware. I’d have to check on that for you as well.
QUESTION: If I could follow up on the question of the – Mr. Snowden. There seems to be an indication that the Russian Government has given its blessing to his going to Venezuela. Will there be an effort by the United States and its allies to deny passage to any airplane that will carry him there?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak to that. Of course, our position here is very clear. I don’t think there’s any secret that we would like to see him returned. We’ve communicated that publicly and privately to any area where he may be stopping in transit, any area where he could possibly end up. So it’s hard for me to see where there would be anybody who’d be confused about where we stand.
QUESTION: So you’re just – so just to put a fine point on it, you will – you don’t want to characterize the lengths that the United States Government would go to to prevent Mr. Snowden from going to a – to get asylum in Venezuela or any other country.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speculate on that. I’m not going to speculate on that. It’s purely a hypothetical.
QUESTION: But you could see though where leaders feel that you’re – especially in Latin America, when you see what happened with the President of Bolivia’s plane and all the speculation that the U.S. was involved in getting – being – forcing it to land and being checked for whether he was on it – you can see where the leaders of particularly Latin America think you’re taking extraordinary measures.
MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think any of that, Elise, has been validated or confirmed out there, in terms of the sources of that or the reasons for it, and I would refer you to any of those countries to speak to that. But beyond that, this is an individual who has been accused of three felony charges, who’s been accused of leaking classified information. We’ve been clear we would like to see him returned, and I don’t think it should come as a surprise that if he were granted asylum that would impact our bilateral relationship.
QUESTION: So does this issue of Mr. Snowden kind of supersede all other interests that you have with any of these countries?
MS. PSAKI: Certainly not. Certainly not. This is an issue where, again, we’ve been very clear where we stand. But we work with all of these countries on a range of different issues. It’s different from country to country. But the Secretary met with Foreign Minister Lavrov, as you know, just maybe ten days ago, and this was an issue that was discussed briefly. But the thrust of their conversation was on Syria.
QUESTION: I think it was less than ten days ago.
MS. PSAKI: Was it less than? Maybe it’s just time is taking longer than I thought. So that is a good example. But there are countless examples, country by country, on all the issues we work together on.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. condemn explicitly that what happened with the Bolivian President? Because tomorrow is going to be a meeting to this at the OAS to this (inaudible) specifically what happened with the Bolivian President. So what will be the U.S. position on that?
MS. PSAKI: I would just refer you to any of the countries there who were involved –France, Spain, Italy, Portugal – for any further comment on that.
QUESTION: There’s been a report that Snowden has obtained a second passport. Have you heard about this?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything on that for you. I haven’t actually heard that.
QUESTION: Is there concern by the State Department that the question of Snowden here is providing, as Chairman Rogers and Senator Menendez said, a way for the Latin American nations to get back at the United States because of its supposedly mining of information in Latin America?
MS. PSAKI: Again, I think you’d have to speak to any of these individual countries. But we have broad bilateral relationships with a number of these countries. We hope that will continue. We hope to work with them on a range of issues, and our focus here is not targeted at any one country, it’s targeted at having Mr. Snowden return to the United States.
QUESTION: Do you deny though that you urged any of those countries to kind of deny airspace to the President of Bolivia’s plane in order to check the plane?
MS. PSAKI: We just haven’t had any specific comment on that, Elise, and we’re referred everybody to the specific countries for more details.
MS. PSAKI: Sure, China. Mm-hmm. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Do you have any readout on U.S.-China working group on cybersecurity? I think it’s being held today.
MS. PSAKI: It is. You’re right, it is being held today. And let me just take this opportunity to remind everybody that today is the first civilian-military cyber working group meeting. The representative from the United States is – it is being led, I should say, by State Department Coordinator for Cyber Issues Christopher Painter – he’s chairing the working group – and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Eric Rosenbach will be the Defense Department lead. This is a working group that was announced back in April, when the Secretary was in Beijing, and this first meeting we’re hopeful will enable the two sides to share perspectives on international laws and norms in cyberspace, raise concerns as needed, develop processes for future cooperation, and set the tone for future constructive and cooperative bilateral dialogues. I expect there’ll be more of a readout as the meetings conclude later this afternoon.
QUESTION: I just want to check on that. When you say that you’re hoping that they’ll be able to come up with or to share perspectives on international laws and norms on cybersecurity and that kind of thing, your position would be that the United States respects all international laws and norms when it comes to cybersecurity and protection of private information, correct?
MS. PSAKI: I do, Matt.
QUESTION: You do.
MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure where you’re going with this, but I’m interested to see.
QUESTION: I just want to see how much you can – I --
MS. PSAKI: I think we’ve been very clear in expressing our concern.
QUESTION: So you believe that any --
MS. PSAKI: China has expressed their own concerns.
MS. PSAKI: You believe that any U.S. Government programs that deal with cyber – computers, cyber information – comply with existing international laws and regulations and they fit the norm, the international norms. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Yes, Matt.
QUESTION: Okay. Everything the U.S. Government has done with respect to computers and cybersecurity is legal under international law? You would say the Administration believes that?
MS. PSAKI: Matt, do you have any specific program questions or specific --
MS. PSAKI: That’s – yes. Well, no, I just wanted to know that the Administration’s position is that it has respected all relevant international laws and norms when it comes to computer security and cybersecurity.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think we’ve differentiated – this is a relevant point here, as you look at me – we’ve differentiated here between our concerns we’ve had about steps taken by China as it relates to economic data, data threatening infrastructure. That’s a concern I’m certain will be raised during these meetings, and that’s the purpose of the cyber working group.
QUESTION: Okay. But you, the Administration, does not believe that it has violated laws or – international laws or norms as it relates to cybersecurity with this data mining that’s been going on?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak to all of our different programs, Matt, but I’m not aware of any violation.
QUESTION: The Administration is not – your position is that the Administration is not breaking any international laws when it comes to computer security. Is that correct?
MS. PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: All right.
QUESTION: I have --
QUESTION: From the --
QUESTION: -- U.S.-China?
MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead. One more on U.S.-China.
MS. PSAKI: Oh, one more on China. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes. Is that correct, Snowden’s allegation on the U.S. hacks on Chinese computer is going to complicate your cyber dialogue with China?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I’m not going to validate the range of accusations being made by Mr. Snowden. I will say that, of course, this is an open conversation and the U.S. will raise our own concerns, and certainly I would send you to the Chinese for them to talk about what their concerns may be.
QUESTION: Can I change topic, Guyana? It’s been reported that a U.S. Embassy official has been removed for allegedly being involved in a sex-for-visa scandal. Does the State Department have a comment on that?
MS. PSAKI: I think I do have something. Just give me a moment here. Well, we are aware of the allegations of improprieties relating to a consular officer formerly assigned to Georgetown, Guyana. This Department takes all allegations of misconduct by employees seriously. We are reviewing the matter thoroughly. If the allegations are substantiated, we will work with the relevant authorities to hold anyone involved accountable.
QUESTION: So is he – he’s back here in Washington now?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have an update on their location.
QUESTION: The report also says that this gentleman is currently been suspended, or has been relieved of his actual duties while this matter has been investigated.
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any further update on it for all of you. I’m happy to check on that and see if there’s anything else --
MS. PSAKI: -- that I’m able to provide.
QUESTION: “Recently withdrawn from normal duties pending completion of an official investigation.”
MS. PSAKI: Okay. I’m happy to check on that.
QUESTION: A small one on Singapore. Back in May, the Singaporean authorities announced plans for new regulation of Internet --
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: -- news websites. Today, a group of U.S.-based internet companies – Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, and Google – essentially criticized that decision. Does the U.S. Government have any position on those regulations, and in particular on the one that I believe would require websites to take down any story – news story which the Singaporean Government deemed to be unacceptable within 24 hours?
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Well, we are deeply concerned by the new restrictive Singaporean policy requiring the licensing of news websites. We raise Internet freedom regularly in bilateral and multilateral dialogues with foreign governments, including Singapore. We urge Singapore to ensure that freedom of expression is protected in accordance with its international obligations and commitments. We closely monitor and often speak out, as you all know, on both Internet freedom and media freedom throughout the world. This case is no different, and we are concerned, of course, to see Singapore applying press restrictions to the online world.
QUESTION: So can you assure us that the reason that you push for Internet freedom and that kind of thing in all these countries around the world isn’t to make it easier for this government to listen in and bug people?
MS. PSAKI: I just – I want to make sure --
MS. PSAKI: -- that the AP and Reuters stories are available to all the people of Singapore.
QUESTION: Can I return to Snowden really quickly and ask --
MS. PSAKI: Sure.
QUESTION: The Government of Bolivia issued a statement, I believe, saying that the act of governments who forced President Morales’ plane down was state terrorism. Do you have any response to that, given that the countries involved were close U.S. allies?
MS. PSAKI: Well, again, I would refer you, and I continue to refer you, to the individual governments here for any further comment on the circumstances of last week.
QUESTION: The U.S. has no response?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you on it.
QUESTION: Okay. And just to follow up, does – is there any more information on where the original information or the leak came from that Snowden was on that plane? Does the U.S. have any more idea --
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything for you on that, no.
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Today's State Dept Brief - Brazil, Venezuela, Snowden, Bolivia- Plane, China, Guyana, Singapore (Original post)