The FBI in Brazil: How Did They Let Lava Jato Go So Far?

Luis Nassif

How were a group of public prosecutors allowed to report directly to agents from other countries, and why were these illegal actions endorsed by Brazil’s governmental institutions

In a clear example of the Macarthyism which consumed Brazil, Public Prosecutor Thamea Danelon recently snitched on a professional colleague in the Attorney General’s office for political activism. The proof presented to back up her claim was that her colleague had gone to the funeral of Lula’s wife Marisa, accompanied by her husband.

That a case would be built on such ridiculous “evidence” is a sign of the collective arrogance and stupidity that embedded into all of our government institutions, brandished by people who have risen to prominence on waves of intolerance.

At the time of Danelon’s snitching, she was also exchanging information with the FBI in communications which were illegal but tolerated by the governmental agency she worked for.

This mood permeated the entire structure of the Federal Attorney General Office. Howling prosecutors, followers of Lava Jato-ism and Bolsonarism, imposed themselves on professional colleagues through aggression, war cries and earthquakes of all kinds. After all, this intolerance was endorsed by the Supreme Court, the media and Congress.

Now the rivers are slowly beginning to return to their usual beds. Lava Jato is no longer necessary because it fulfilled its mission. It dismantled the political system, weakened the political left and opened space for the destruction of the 1988 Constitution, as the Bridge to the Future austerity program was pushed through by the “good citizens”, Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro. There is no longer any reason for the Knights Templar to continue in the grand halls of the plantation house. If they want their own space there will always be basements to operate in, like those in which the soldiers of the dictatorship did their dirty work. They can, for example, work in private law firms specializing in compliance, collecting data for commercial wars. After all, they will keep control of their databases and these are suitable for political, commercial and legal disputes. They already treat their databases as private property and howl at the top of their lungs against any move by the Attorney General’s Office to deprive them of these precious assets.

Today, Thamea Denelon deleted her Twitter account after the articles in Agência Pública, based on leaked Telegram messages revealed in the Vaza Jato scandal, exposed her illegal relationship with the FBI. This is a sign that the shielding that enabled illegal activities inside the Public Prosecutors office has come to an end.

Last night, Globo TV’s Jornal Nacional, and it’s Globonews cable channel – the main backers of Lava Jato – broke a 6 year silence to criticize it for the first time ever, albeit in a subtle manner.

Lava Jato’s Alibis

The Lava Jato task force tried to hide its crimes in an unusual manner, apparently taking its lead from Judge Sérgio Moro who began absolving crimes by political allies such as Minister of Citizenship Onyx Lorenzoni as long as they acknowledged them as “mistakes”. The Lava Jato taskforce was recently accused of illegally acquiring wiretapping equipment. A spokesman explained that they were not using the equipment to tap other parties’ phone lines. Great! What was it for again? To record their own conversations? For what reason? The task force spokesman said that the equipment was being used to facilitate testimonies from people who wanted to make confessions. Were people told in advance that they were being recorded? Yes, says the task force, initially, but the prosecutors were distracted by something and continued recording all phone calls indefinitely without warning other parties on the line. It was a little mistake, of course, with no bad intentions behind it.

The task force was accused of disguising the names of Senate leader David Alcolumbre and House leader Rodrigo Maia and including them on a list of suspects in an investigation on illegal campaign funding. This, it said, was caused by their secretary being distracted while she was typing the list. But they were the only two names on the entire list that did not have political parties associated with them. Yes, it must have been a little distraction.

In a conversation that was published yesterday by Agência Pública, Lava Jato task force leader Delton Dallagnol is specifically warned by Vladimir Aras, the government official responsible for international collaborations, that any direct contact between the Lava Jato task force, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security would violate the law.

It is clear that the members of the Attorney General’s Office in Brasília were aware of these crimes. Whenever it was accused of knowing about this illegal collaboration at the time, its invariable answer was “what are you going to do about it?” After all, Lava Jato was supported by the media, political parties, the Attorney General, the Supreme Court and all other sectors that were interested in overthrowing the government.

Lava Jato, therefore, was created as a parallel power – a classic 5th column which shared information with the FBI and DHS that it withheld from the Brazilian Attorney General’s Office.

The protective armor was complete. Even after the most active phase of Lava Jato there were still ostensibly progressive journalists who characterised the news about foreign infiltration in Lava Jato as a conspiracy theory. I believe that they were acting in good faith so am sure they will engage in self-criticism on this issue soon.

Now, to the degree that the tide is going back out, so much trash is going to start appearing on the beach that it will be impossible to hide it all.

The guilty

The biggest problem is not the dazzled hicks of Paraná who thought they eminated their own light. They are the ones who allowed themselves to be abused. How was it possible that a group of civil servants became accountable to organizations from other countries and their illegal behavior was endorsed by other institutions? Where were Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo and Attorney General Rodrigo Janot, who knew what was going on but had no pulse or interest in curbing illegal activities?

What hurts to the depths of the soul is knowing that despite everything we dreamed of, despite everything we did from the Direitas Já movement forwards when we imagined Brazil would acquire the status of civilized nation and that power would alternate between the center right and the center left in a gradual process of democratic improvement, there was always this monster of our historical curse lurking in the shadows: the curse of public institutions and officials molded through the jeitinho, using principals and values for their own, opportunistic benefit. And while this was all happening we still had to listen to people like Luis Roberto Barroso blaming this jeitinho on the poor.

Bolsonarism did not merely reveal the rotten face of a biased and unscientific middle class. More than that, the hypocrisy of the “good men” upstairs, of the people who should be role models, exploded in the face of the country as they turned the justice system and journalism into an implacable war machine against any divergent thought. And now they parade once again, on the catwalk of good intentions, preaching the politically correct, defending the good and the truth, democracy and tolerance and declaring themselves as the new Enlightenment that will overthrow Bolsonarism.

The nation will soon be able to sleep peacefully, they promise. Bolsonarism was just an undesirable interlude. But in the basement at the bottom of national consciousness, this creature from the lagoon will remain alert as a tibetan mastiff and ready to start another holy war at any sign of threat from its enemies.

With the Lava Jato flag already worn out there will be no problem creating a new flag, always under the old template of anti-communism – whatever that may be – using any Templar of the moment who can be discarded later, because the only unchanging flag in Brazil is the untouchability of its economic and political model.

This article originally ran in GGN, was translated from Portuguese by Brian Mier, and can be seen in its original form here.