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Wednesday, 21 August 2013 07:39

Amazon Received $600 Million CIA Computer Cloud Contract: Surveillance Shopping?

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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

bezos8 21            Jeff BezosIt would make a good front page Washington Post story to learn a bit about the more than a half of a billion dollars that the CIA is going to pay Amazon to develop a spook computer cloud.  (For those who don't follow computer technology, "clouds" are the next stage in digital data storage.)

According to the website "Quartz," "Amazon is staffing up for its $600 million cloud for spooks":

You can now add “spymaster” to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s various titles. On Friday June 14, a US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report elaborated on previous reports that Amazon had won a $600 million contract to build a “private cloud” for the CIA. (The GAO report was generated when IBM, which had been competing for the contract, protested that it had lost unfairly.)

More than half a billion dollars will buy you a lot of cloud computing, and now, according to postings on Amazon’s own jobs site, the company is staffing up to meet the demand the new contract will require. Specifically, Amazon is looking for engineers who already have a “Top Secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information” clearance, or are willing to go through the elaborate screening process required to get it. TS/SCI is the highest security clearance offered by the US government, and getting it requires having your background thoroughly vetted.

BuzzFlash at Truthout found out about the contract through Heidi Boghosian, author of the just released "Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance. (You can obtain the book, which is the Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week by clicking here.)   When it comes to exponentially advancing blending of corporate media and the government, the $600 million Amazon CIA contract does not portend well for the future of transparent coverage in the Washington Post under Bezos.  

Just look at the two key players in spying on democracy in Boghosian's book title: government surveillance and corporate power.  In Bezos's purchase of the Washington Post, you have the critical mass combination.  And that's not to mention the potential for combining intelligence surveillance, customer buying habits and marketing information, and news preferences.

It may also be mere coincidence that both the CIA and Amazon are both investing in a quantum computer company, D-Wave. But given the financial interlinking of media, corporations and government, one can argue that Amazon and the CIA have grown quite chummy when it comes to the bottom line.

Those who argue that Bezos is socially progressive on issues such as gay marriage and therefore will be a positive influence on the Post forget that President Obama is socially progressive, but as far as Wall Street, low paying jobs (such as the ones Bezos has helped usher in in his warehouses that has Obama highlighted), and spying on American citizens is more or less a continuation -- if not expansion -- of Bush's policies.

Let's see, recently Bezos paid $250 million for the Washington Post (and some other of its affiliated properties); Amazon earlier this year (beating out IBM, who is still contesting the awarding of the CIA contract to Amazon) received a $600 million contract from the CIA (and holds other government IT contracts including possibly one with the NSA).

Hmmm, not that we are saying that there is any direct relationship here, but somehow it seems more than an even bet that the Washington Post won't be a transparent lens when it comes to surveillance and espionage under Bezos's ownership.

(Photo: DonkeyHotey)