Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported Tuesday that president Dilma Rousseff was so miffed over the National Security Agency snooping into her communications that she decided to cancel her trip to the White House on October 23.
According to Reuters, President Obama spent twenty minutes on the phone with Rousseff last night but she still refused to come. Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed Tuesday afternoon that, yes, Rousseff will no longer be visiting Washington. Obama agrees this is the right thing to do because "the relationship is so important," Carney told reporters Tuesday. The White House also released this statement:
The President has said that he understands and regrets the concerns disclosures of alleged U.S. intelligence activities have generated in Brazil and made clear that he is committed to working together with President Rousseff and her government in diplomatic channels to move beyond this issue as a source of tension in our bilateral relationship.
The White House hopes they can reschedule. But you know how these things can go.
This is one of the biggest diplomatic backlashes the White House has seen (not involving Russia) since the NSA scandal broke. Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald recently revealed Rousseff's communications were being intercepted by the NSA. "This is completely outside the standard of confidence expected of a strategic partnership, as the U.S. and Brazil have,'' he told O Globo at the time. In July, Greenwald revealed the NSA has also spied on Brazilian civilian communications for more than a decade.
As soon as Rousseff's cancellation was confirmed, the White House announced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit September 30. Since the NSA shares much of its intelligence with Israel, they probably still have a lot to talk about.