By Carol J. Williams and Vincent Bevins September 24, 2013, 7:59 a.m. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff used her lead-off speech at the annual United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday to blast the United States for operating a worldwide spying network that she said violates the sovereignty of other countries and the civil liberties of their citizens. Rousseff had already signaled her nation’s outrage over reports of National Security Agency data interceptions in Brazil by canceling a summit and state dinner with President Obama that had been set for late October. “What we have before us is a serious case of violation of human rights and civil liberties,” Rousseff told the assembly immediately after opening pleasantries. Also She described arguments that the technological surveillance of individuals, businesses and diplomatic missions is necessary in the global fight against terrorism as “untenable” and an affront to the sovereignty of nations. “Brazil can protect itself,” Rousseff declared. “Brazil doesnt provide shelter to terrorist groups.” Rousseff never mentioned Obama or the NSA by name but said her nation’s dismay over “this case of disrespect” had been communicated to Washington, along with its insistence that Brazil “cannot possibly allow recurring and illegal actions to go on as if normal practice.” Since July, Brazilian news organization Globo has published three reports based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden , which alleged that the United States had spied on Brazilian citizens, Rousseff herself, as well as important state-run oil company, Petrobras. Rousseff has strongly denounced the alleged eavesdropping and asked Obama for a public apology and concrete actions to curb it. The decision to cancel the Washington trip, a rare diplomatic snub of the United States, was well received in many parts of Brazil, especially in the base of her left-of-center Workers Party, many of whose members have memories of a U.S.-backed military dictatorship that spied on dissidents. ALSO:
The next Citizens United could affect campaign spending in the states
But critics of the aggregate contribution limit say individual limits such as the $2,600 cap on donations to a federal candidate or candidate committee per election already provide that protection. Were not challenging and the plaintiff in McCutcheon is not challenging any of the individual contribution limits, says Rick Esenberg, a Marquette University Law School professor and president and general counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which filed a brief opposing the limit. Why, they ask, is it OK to donate $2,600 to 18 campaigns, but not 19? The case was brought by the Republican National Committee and Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman and conservative activist. At the federal level only a small group 646 individuals bumped up against that aggregate limit during the 2012 election cycle, according to The Center for Responsive Politics Open Secrets blog . But spending limits in a handful of states are lower, meaning that if they fall money could come flowing in. While McCutcheon only affects the federal limit, experts are watching it closely and many on both sides believe the state limits either wont survive or would become very vulnerable if the federal cap is nullified. If the federal limit falls, I think the states are likely to fall, too, says Lawrence Norton, co-chairman of the political law practice at Venable and a former general counsel of the FEC. If the Supreme Court rules against the limits, it will likely do so in a way that affects those state caps, he says. In a February blog post, Norton identified roughly 10 states with state-level spending limits. The Center for Competitive Politics, which filed a brief on behalf of McCutcheon puts the number of states with limits even higher at 13. Still, they argue, the majority of states have no cap and are doing fine. And, besides, Citizens United opened the floodgates for unlimited independent corporate political spending, so removing the aggregate limit for individuals acts as a counterbalance, they and others argue. But fans of the limit couldnt disagree more. As bad as Citizens United was, I think this would be much worse, says Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, the Maryland executive director of Common Cause, a nonprofit active on campaign-finance issues.