Millions of Americans brought Alexa into their homes only to learn, belatedly, that not only software, but human beings, were listening in on them. Amazon employees and contractors from Costa Rica to India were caught reviewing thousands of recordings, of casual requests, private conversations and intimate moments, and sharing clips that they thought were funny in chat sessions with each other.
The Amazon product is always listening and maintains recordings of your conversations indefinitely.
But now there’s something bigger at stake than privacy violations. Amazon expects a $10 billion
cloud contract for the military. The $10 billion contract was a sweetheart deal for a politically influential company that seemed unstoppable until President Trump suddenly slammed the brakes on JEDI.
The deal had always been dubious and many critics had questioned how or why a single company could expect to have a monopoly on the JEDI cloud for the United States military. Amazon’s cloud business is huge, but the Capital One breach of 100 million credit card applications by a former Amazon employee highlighted the company’s security and workforce issues. Capital One kept its data in the cloud through AWS or Amazon Web Services and the hacker was a former AWS employee with specialized knowledge.
In the Obama era, Amazon had received a $600 million cloud contract that covers all 17 intelligence agencies. The secret deal was met with protests especially since Amazon’s wasn’t even the lowest bid.
Just as with JEDI, all the national security eggs were being put into one very fragile basket.
Amazon’s federal cloud contracts took off in the Obama era. Many of the biggest contracts are classified making it difficult to measure how much taxpayer money is being sucked into the Bezos business. But Amazon is winning contracts in the usual Washington D.C. way, by spending millions a year on lobbying.
The dot com titan began lobbying the Pentagon in 2016. That was the year Amazon’s lobbying expenditures hit a whopping $11 million, up from $1.62 million during the Bush administration. Amazon’s PAC, which the company strongly encourages employees to donate to, accounted for $515,200 in donations to members of Congress.
Amazon was the fourth biggest contributor to Senator Mark Warner. And when President Trump put Amazon’s JEDI deal on hold, Warner was among the first to protest the move. In his letter, Warner urged the Secretary of Defense to “resist political pressures” that might scuttle $10 billion for Amazon.
Senator Warner, who was applying political pressure to the Secretary of Defense, to protect a contract that would benefit his contributors, appeared to be unaware of the irony of his message.
But Amazon’s lobbying millions were only the tip of the iceberg of its dubious political influence.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is not only the richest person in the world, with an estimated $156 billion, but is a heavyweight political donor who has outspent other S&P 500 CEOs by a factor of 10. Bezos was the 12th biggest political donor of the 2018 cycle, coming in behind Bloomberg and Soros.
And, even more importantly, Bezos owns the Washington Post. The powerful political tabloid sets the agenda in the government city, but it’s also raising questions about whether Amazon is a security risk for reasons that go far beyond the flaws in AWS or whatever influence it might have used to grab JEDI.
In its story on the JEDI contract, the Washington Post claimed that, “Trump on several occasions has spoken out against Amazon and its chief executive, Jeff Bezos. And he has attacked the Bezos-owned Washington Post for its coverage of him by conflating it with Amazon’s interests.”
Then the Washington Post went on to complain that, “The president has called the news organization the ‘Amazon Washington Post,’ while accusing it of publishing ‘fake news’ and being a ‘lobbyist newspaper’ for the company.” A rumor that the Washington Post helpfully put to bed by doing just that.
But the real problem with the intersection between the Washington Post and Amazon isn’t its left-wing politics: it’s Jamal Khashoggi. A year after Amazon began lobbying the Pentagon, the Washington Post began publishing propaganda screeds in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, shaped by the Qatar Foundation, under the name of Jamal Khashoggi.
The Washington Post was aware that Khashoggi, an old friend of Osama bin Laden and longtime supporter of Islamic terrorism, was operating under Qatari influence. It was also aware that Qatar was the region’s biggest backer of Sunni Islamic terrorism and regime change influence operations. Its publication of Qatari propaganda under Khashoggi’s name and its subsequent insistence on transforming him into a martyr as part of the Qatari influence operation against Saudi Arabia, was an active attempt to influence United States foreign policy on behalf of an enemy government.
It’s behavior properly associated with registered foreign agents. Not an American media outlet.
A company that appears to be operating as an unregistered foreign agent for an enemy government cannot then turn around and have its owner’s company be trusted with the military’s JEDI cloud.
Why the Washington Post chose to participate in the Qatari influence operation is an open question. Until it’s resolved, allowing another company controlled by its owner to have sole dominion over the military cloud, as it already possesses over our intelligence cloud, is an unacceptable security risk.
The issue at stake is about more than whether Amazon or Microsoft get a $10 billion contract.
Our national security has already been badly compromised by the radical employees of contractors, Edward Snowden and Reality Winner. Snowden and Winner both compromised national security through the auspices of The Intercept, a site funded by Franco-Iranian dot com billionaire Pierre Omidyar. The Intercept has also been a notorious vehicle for Qatari influence operations.
Putting the military cloud in the hands of a compromised company could be truly devastating.
The Washington Post has an unfortunate history of acting as an advocate for Qatar and for Islamic terrorists in general. It has run countless pieces in support of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood has multiple terrorist affiliates and is dedicated to subverting our political system.
The Post was criticized for running an op-ed by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the leader of Yemen’s Houthi terrorists, who are backed by Iran, who have attacked Americans, and who chant, “Death to America”.
Earlier it had been condemned for publishing an op-ed from Ahrar al-Sham, an Islamic guerrilla group that had worked with Al Qaeda. One of the founding members of the armed jihadist group went on to head the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Even Secretary of State John Kerry had condemned it, saying, “From Orlando to San Bernardino to the Philippines and Bali, we’ve seen pictures and we’ve heard testimony of shocking crimes committed by al-Qaida, by Boko Haram, by Jaysh al-Islam, by Ahrar al-Sham, by al-Shabaab, Daesh, other groups against innocent civilians, against journalists, and against teachers.”
But the Washington Post didn’t just offer op-ed space to brutal terrorists, it whitewashed them.
It ran a glowing profile of Salah Badi, a Libyan Islamist terrorist who had been sanctioned by the Treasury Department and the UN Security Council for rocket attacks that had killed civilians.
The Washington Post described the brutal Islamist killer as "one of Tripoli's defenders".
Even when it came to ISIS, the Washington Post ran an article headlined, "ISIS kidnapped my best friend. But when I met its fighters, I couldn’t hate them."
The Post ran an article touting Ismail Royer, who had been caught with weapons on September 2001, and had been convicted as part of the Virginia Jihad Network.
Last year, even the Taliban praised the Washington Post for giving the terror group credibility.
The Washington Post provides terrorists with a forum, whitewashes them and maintains an inappropriate relationship with state sponsors of Islamic terror. A company that shares a common leader with an organization with troubling terror ties should not control the military’s JEDI cloud.
The risks to our national security and the lives of our soldiers would be incalculable.
While American soldiers battle the Taliban in Afghanistan, the military’s JEDI cloud should not belong to a company that shares a leader with a paper that was praised by the Taliban.
While American sailors battle the Houthis in Yemen, the JEDI cloud should not be exposed to a company that shares a leader with an organization that provided the Houthis with a forum.
While American pilots go after Al Qaeda, ISIS and its allies in Syria, they should not be relying on JEDI cloud that shares a leader with an outlet that opened its doors to Al Qaeda’s allies.
Amazon’s JEDI bid is a threat to national security as long as its CEO is involved with a propaganda outlet for foreign terrorist groups and foreign governments that are waging a war against the United States.
Since at least Franklin Roosevelt, our MilitaryReplyDelete
and Civil functions have teemed with spies and
saboteurs serving Communist and Islamic aims.
How can we keep on making the same obvious
blunders? We have hundreds of counter-spies
who should be re-checking each other and all
others. We have the math to trace back leaked
intel to the point of leak, ways to predict
probable weaknesses, and compartmentalize
Neither Jamal Khashoggi, Grover Norquist nor
Huma Abedin could have passed the security
check I got as a new military officer. Yet
their access was vast and everybody looked
the other way. Our Al Udeid airbase is in
Qatar, a known hostile state. I doubt that
our government has screened contracting
companies as thoroughly as Daniel just did.
Warner and many well-bribed peers cheer for
their sugar daddies. And it has to be Trump
alone who resists? Thank God, the swamp is
slowly draining, and the Good Guys are getting
a little more help.
I work in IT. Redundancy, segregation, and access control are fundamental principles of IT security. One must ask why the military is even considering putting *all* info on a *single* system it *does not have control over*. Same with the IC data. It's almost like somebody(s) are AOK with making enemy access easier.ReplyDelete
Anon-IT; Precisely! The only way this couldReplyDelete
be so prone to enemy compromise, is if it were
a design feature.
Trump needs to put an end to Amazon access to military ITReplyDelete
Alexa Akbar! (Praise Be Unto Her!) She Who Must Be Obeyed. Submit and death will be swift!ReplyDelete
Anon/Charlie - "it's not a bug, it's a design feature"...exactly.ReplyDelete
America's national security is already at severe risk due to lawmakers who serve on sensitive committees while never having to pass any kind of security check. Yet their loyalty to America may be very doubtful. This article is absolutely correct-- Amazon having charge of such data would be a monumental mistake.ReplyDelete
The first comment written by Charlie was spot on who wrote well about the scrutiny one had to undergo in order to obtain a security clearance. Back in the early 1980's we were thoroughly looked at, to include our relatives and friends. We took it seriously. My military brothers and sisters respected the flag, the country, and believed in our mission.ReplyDelete
Today, they handout Sec Clearances like candy... as long as the dollars follow. So it seems.
Great article by the way.
BC - I worked at a nuclear facility in the 90's, and security was a bad joke. I was there during the infamous "Chinese national walks off with physical hard drives" incident. I used to walk on/off the site with a full day-pack at all hours and was NEVER challenged. My first day there they had their hair on fire b'cuz a drive went down and lost gigs of research data - nobody had bothered to back it up.ReplyDelete
Eddie Howell and Anon BC: Yes! DC folk don’tReplyDelete
care about security: they’ve seen it often
misused (1) to avoid personal embarrassment,
or to embarrass an opponent (2) for personal
gain, like opportune stock purchases (3) to
curry favor with media. “Everybody” is doing
it with no downside.
China, Russia et al know HumInt (Human Intel).
Booze, drugs, sex, flattery, blackmail open
floodgates to volumes of puzzle pieces. They
are very good at assembling puzzles.
The quiet and faithful who do keep our secrets
will never get credit. Secrets keep flowing
through the leakers anyway.
What a depressing, well written and informative article. I wonder how heavily infested (oops make that invested) Moslem petrostates are in Amazon? I believe Amazon might be the ONLY bookseller that sells any books that are in any way critical of the Religion of Peace. I don't think any brick and mortar stores carry any counter-jihad titles and public libraries in my area certainly don't (and I'm not at all sure university libraries do either). Thanks Mr. Greenfield for writing the truth that the enemedia only serve to suppress.ReplyDelete
Well, it's all deliberately planned to bring America down, and along with it, all the other countries. But why are we always talking about this when we've known for many years what 'they' are trying to do?ReplyDelete
It is like tweeting the bad news and hoping someone else will stop it from continuing.... Maybe more people ought to start praying???
Dear Anon Praying;ReplyDelete
Your pessimism is understandable. There’s
reason for hope whether you are religious or
secular. Before the Internet, we believed
Brahmans like Walter Durante, Walter Cronkite,
Walter Winchell who couldn’t be fact checked
back then. Those megalomaniacal bastards
toyed with public opinion and American Destiny
at their whim.
Now we have D. Horowitz, D. Greenfield, Drudge,
Breitbart (rip), and hundreds of others, who
may not always agree, but speak opinions for
our scrutiny. Also heard are the voices of
many incredible heroes like Trump, P. Geller,
Robert Spencer, Geert Wilders who face daily
credible, gruesome threats against themselves
In spite of media tyranny, technology can
outpace oppression. Encryption, blockchain,
etc. open free minds faster.
We are fighting for liberty and the sanctity
of the individual. Never give up.
Charlie, would it be possible for ISP's (perhaps incl. cell phone service providers) to block websites not on-board with right think? How would you propose getting around that?ReplyDelete
My local library blocks access to any and all counter-jihad websites (e.g. jihadwatch, gellerreport, wikiislam.net etc.) on their network (incl. their public WiFi).
Good question with short answer: VPN (Virtual
Private Network). This commercially sold or
free software you install on your desktop,
laptop or mobile device. It “tunnels under”
the ISP/WIFI software so they can’t tell where
you go. Can also give you a new IP, even in
a different country.
Up to you to learn lots more security and risk.
If you commit crimes, they’ll STILL catch you.
Cyber tech is a constant tug-of-war between
measure and counter measure. Good luck and
don’t be a fool.