Google: Search Engine or Deep State Organ?

by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:

Today’s post should be read as Part 3 of my ongoing series about the now infamous Google memo, and what it tells us about where our society is headed if a minority of extremely wealthy and powerful technocratic billionaires are permitted to fully socially engineer our culture to fit their ideological vision using coercion, force and manipulation. For some context, read Part 1 and Part 2.

I struggled with the title of this piece, because ever since the 2016 election, usage of the term “deep state” has become overly associated with Trump cheerleaders. I’m not referring to people who voted for Trump, whom I can both understand and respect, I’m talking about the Trump cultists. Like most people who mindlessly and enthusiastically attach themselves to political figures, they tend to be either morons or opportunists.

Nevertheless, just because the term has been somewhat tainted doesn’t mean I deny the existence of a “deep state” or “shadow government.” The existence of networks of unelected powerful people who formulate and push policy behind the scenes and then get captured members of Congress to vote on it is pretty much undeniable. I don’t believe that the “deep state” is a monolithic entity by any means, but what seems to unite these various people and institutions is an almost religious belief in U.S. imperial dominance, as well as the idea that this empire should be largely governed by an unaccountable oligarchy of billionaires and assorted technocrats. We see the results of this worldview all around us with endless wars, an unconstitutional domestic surveillance state and the destruction of the middle class. These are the fruits of deep state ideology, and a clear reason why it should be dismantled and replaced by genuine governance by the people before they lead the U.S. to total disaster.

From my own personal research and observations, Google has become very much a willing part of this deep state, with Eric Schmidt being the primary driving force that has propelled the company into its contemporary role not just as a search engine monopoly, but also as a powerful and undemocratic tech arm of the shadow government.

One of the best things about all the recent attention on the Google memo, is that it has placed this corporate behemoth and its very clear ideological leanings squarely in the public eye. This gives us the space to shine light on some other aspects of Google, which I believe most people would find quite concerning if made aware of.

To that end, in 2014, Wikileaks published an extremely powerful excerpt from Julian Assange’s book, When Google Met Wikileaks. The post was titled, Google Is Not What It Seems, and it is an incredible repository of information and insight. If you never read it, I suggest you take the time. Below I share some choice excerpts to get you up to speed with what Google is really up to.

Let’s start with the intro to the piece, which sets the stage…

Eric Schmidt is an influential figure, even among the parade of powerful characters with whom I have had to cross paths since I founded WikiLeaks. In mid-May 2011 I was under house arrest in rural Norfolk, about three hours’ drive northeast of London. The crackdown against our work was in full swing and every wasted moment seemed like an eternity. It was hard to get my attention. But when my colleague Joseph Farrell told me the executive chairman of Google wanted to make an appointment with me, I was listening.

In some ways the higher echelons of Google seemed more distant and obscure to me than the halls of Washington. We had been locking horns with senior US officials for years by that point. The mystique had worn off. But the power centers growing up in Silicon Valley were still opaque and I was suddenly conscious of an opportunity to understand and influence what was becoming the most influential company on earth. Schmidt had taken over as CEO of Google in 2001 and built it into an empire.1

I was intrigued that the mountain would come to Muhammad. But it was not until well after Schmidt and his companions had been and gone that I came to understand who had really visited me.

The stated reason for the visit was a book. Schmidt was penning a treatise with Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, an outfit that describes itself as Google’s in-house “think/do tank.” I knew little else about Cohen at the time. In fact, Cohen had moved to Google from the US State Department in 2010. He had been a fast-talking “Generation Y” ideas man at State under two US administrations, a courtier from the world of policy think tanks and institutes, poached in his early twenties. He became a senior advisor for Secretaries of State Rice and Clinton. At State, on the Policy Planning Staff, Cohen was soon christened “Condi’s party-starter,” channeling buzzwords from Silicon Valley into US policy circles and producing delightful rhetorical concoctions such as “Public Diplomacy 2.0.”2 On his Council on Foreign Relations adjunct staff page he listed his expertise as “terrorism; radicalization; impact of connection technologies on 21st century statecraft; Iran.”3.

Now I’m going to skip ahead in the piece to the moment where Assange describes his attempt to make contact with the U.S. State Department in 2011 regarding cables Wikileaks was releasing.

It was at this point that I realized Eric Schmidt might not have been an emissary of Google alone. Whether officially or not, he had been keeping some company that placed him very close to Washington, DC, including a well-documented relationship with President Obama. Not only had Hillary Clinton’s people known that Eric Schmidt’s partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her as a back channel. While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the US State Department, the US State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch. Two years later, in the wake of his early 2013 visits to China, North Korea, and Burma, it would come to be appreciated that the chairman of Google might be conducting, in one way or another, “back-channel diplomacy” for Washington. But at the time it was a novel thought.11

I put it aside until February 2012, when WikiLeaks—along with over thirty of our international media partners—began publishing the Global Intelligence Files: the internal email spool from the Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor.12 One of our stronger investigative partners—the Beirut-based newspaper Al Akhbar—scoured the emails for intelligence on Jared Cohen.13 The people at Stratfor, who liked to think of themselves as a sort of corporate CIA, were acutely conscious of other ventures that they perceived as making inroads into their sector. Google had turned up on their radar. In a series of colorful emails they discussed a pattern of activity conducted by Cohen under the Google Ideas aegis, suggesting what the “do” in “think/do tank” actually means.

Cohen’s directorate appeared to cross over from public relations and “corporate responsibility” work into active corporate intervention in foreign affairs at a level that is normally reserved for states. Jared Cohen could be wryly named Google’s “director of regime change.” According to the emails, he was trying to plant his fingerprints on some of the major historical events in the contemporary Middle East. He could be placed in Egypt during the revolution, meeting with Wael Ghonim, the Google employee whose arrest and imprisonment hours later would make him a PR-friendly symbol of the uprising in the Western press. Meetings had been planned in Palestine and Turkey, both of which—claimed Stratfor emails—were killed by the senior Google leadership as too risky. Only a few months before he met with me, Cohen was planning a trip to the edge of Iran in Azerbaijan to “engage the Iranian communities closer to the border,” as part of Google Ideas’ project on “repressive societies.” In internal emails Stratfor’s vice president for intelligence, Fred Burton (himself a former State Department security official), wrote:

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.14

 In further internal communication, Burton said his sources on Cohen’s activities were Marty Lev—Google’s director of security and safety—and Eric Schmidt himself.15 Looking for something more concrete, I began to search in WikiLeaks’ archive for information on Cohen. State Department cables released as part of Cablegate reveal that Cohen had been in Afghanistan in 2009, trying to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto US military bases.16 In Lebanon he quietly worked to establish an intellectual and clerical rival to Hezbollah, the “Higher Shia League.”17 And in London he offered Bollywood movie executives funds to insert anti-extremist content into their films, and promised to connect them to related networks in Hollywood.18 

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