The National Security Administration (NSA) has been reading the President of Mexico’s emails for years, according to the latest revelations from NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The specific revelations concern Mexico’s last President, Felipe Calderon, but they have real implications for U.S. relations with Mexico’s current President Enrique Pena Nieto. The top secret report refers to a division within the NSA called “Tailored Access Operations” (TAO) that takes on the NSA’s most difficult projects.
"TAO successfully exploited a key mail server in the Mexican Presidencia domain within the Mexican Presidential network to gain first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon's public email account."
Calderon worked closely with the U.S. on issues like the drug war (the top U.S. priority in relations with Mexico), but the U.S. still felt the need to infiltrate his inbox. Y’know, just in case.
It’s easy to label the NSA as evil, but a more useful way of looking at them might be, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” It’s not their job to decide how much information theft is too much. Their job is to gather any potentially useful information for the U.S. government. That’s just about any information they can get their grimy little paws on. The President of Mexico’s emails? Of course! That’s a treasure trove!
There’s a real problem with this, even from a purely U.S.-centric point of view. Now that it’s public knowledge that the U.S. was, and we can only assume, still is reading the Mexican President’s emails, that makes relations between the two countries more strained. Spying makes diplomacy a lot easier until you get caught, and then it becomes a liability.
Despite the outrage over the Edward Snowden NSA leaks (which continue to come out, and continue to be sensational), it’s likely that the U.S. will continue doing what it’s doing until there’s enough pressure both from within and without the U.S. to make the NSA stop spying on everyone they can.