WikiLeaks has published an absorbing extract from a book by its founder Julian Assange about Google, and how the tech giant, with Chairman Eric Schmidt at the helm, has been operating below the public’s radar and furtively collaborating with US government and politicians. In it, Assange details Schmidt’s cozy relationship with President Obama, and how Hillary Clinton was employed as a back-channel to co-opt the WikiLeaks founder.
The exposé is well worth reading in its entirety, as it explores the labyrinth of entanglements, and the lengths Google has and will go to curry influence with the dreaded “military/industrial complex”. It will, at the very least, challenge your preconceived notions over the marriage of politics and power in the corridors of Washington and slick boardrooms of Silicon Valley.
The article indicates that, far from being at odds with the administration over issues such as privacy, as the public might perceive, Schmidt and Google were, in fact, in bed with it, showing further proof (if such were needed)that, at least according to Assange’s take, this administration is far from transparent.
Assange is originally flattered and buoyed at the prospect of getting an in-depth look at Google and its mercurial leader Schmidt, but becomes increasingly shocked at their attempts to exploit his his powerful presence on the tech seen and capitalize and his notoriety.
The extract points directly to clandestine dealings between Google the US State Department over the past several years, which are particularly relevant now that the former leader of that government entity, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is now running for the highest office in the land. It is also curious to see the irony of Hilary Clinton seeking-out Assange, given that Clinton had previously referred to WikiLeaks as “an attack (and affront) on the international community.”
The piece chronicles the role and mission of Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, and former State Department operative who befriended Schmidt while at State. It probes the direct links between that Department and Google, and thus Eric Schmidt, directly or by association. According to Assange, his Google role was merely a subterfuge to conduct nefarious operations, including subjects as delicate as regime change in the volatile Middle East region. Fred Burton, a State Department security official said:
“Google is getting WH [White House] and State Dept support and air cover. In reality they are doing things the CIA cannot do . . . [Cohen] is going to get himself kidnapped or killed. Might be the best thing to happen to expose Google’s covert role in foaming up-risings, to be blunt. The US Gov’t can then disavow knowledge and Google is left holding the shit-bag.”
Assange originally thought of Schmidt as a “foil”- a hapless billionaire who hobnobbed with the powerful politicians, but what we are led to discover is that he is a calculating (if not ruthless) major player on the foreign relations scene who, through the machinations of Jared Cohen, helped manipulate and thus shape US foreign policy.
In this regard he has curried favour with politicians of all ilks, and from both sides of the aisle. Personalities as diverse as George W. Bush, Al Gore and Senators Diane Feinstein and Orin Hatch have benefitted financially from his largesse, which raises the question as to why a corporate titan would contribute to both political parties. It turns out that the answer to that question is central to unmasking the relationship of Google and Schmidt to the machinations of government.
Schmidt’s journey to the pinnacles of political power began to take shape in the early 2000s with his involvement with the Washington think tank, the New America Foundation (NAF) which, curiously and interestingly lists major donors ($1 million or more) as Bill Gates and the US State Department. Its board of directors is dotted with influential types , including the son of George Soros, Jonathan, which gives one the idea of how much influence and how long its tentacles are.
So, although Google’s reputation may seem unassailable, and it would like to maintain a public image of being “good” and “different”, there are warts to be uncovered, and they emerge at the very top of the company. It is further evidence, as a new campaign season gets under way, that one can’t judge a book by its cover. More than ever, if one wants to be an enlightened voter, one must examine all relationships and all sides of the issues, for things are not always as they appear…