In February 2014, President Obama considered whether to order the Central Intelligence Agency to kill a United States citizen in Pakistan who was believed to be plotting terrorist attacks. As Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times told PBS’s Judy Woodruff, “It’s very rare and an extraordinary circumstance for a president to order the killing of an American citizen overseas.” Mazzetti and a colleague had reported the story for the Times.
But another aspect of the story, Norman Solomon writes, is that Amazon, the electronic commerce company, could be an accessory to any strike against the U.S. citizen. As the largest Web retailer in the world, Amazon is engaged in secure accumulation and analysis of masses of personal data. The company has a $600 million contract with the CIA to provide the agency with “cloud” computing services. After confirmation of the deal, Amazon stated publicly, “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.”
Solomon links Amazon’s CIA contract to Jeff Bezos’ October 2013 purchase of the Washington Post. Bezos is Amazon’s CEO and main stakeholder. The Post has stated that there would be “no direct relevance of the [Amazon-CIA] cloud services contract to coverage of such matters as CIA involvement in rendition of prisoners to regimes for torture; or in targeting for drone strikes; or in data aggregation for counterinsurgency.” But, Solomon writes, this claim is “too convenient—and implausible… Amazon is now integral to the U.S. government’s foreign policy of threatening and killing.” He concludes that, “The sinister implications of Amazon’s new CIA role have received scant public attention so far.”
Source: Norman Solomon, “If Obama Orders the CIA To Kill a US Citizen, Amazon Will Be a Partner in Assassination,” Truthout, February 12, 2014, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/21820-if-obama-orders-the-cia-to-kill-a-us-citizen-amazon-will-be-a-partner-in-assassination.
See Also: Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Debates Drone Strike on American Terrorism Suspect in Pakistan,” New York Times, February 10, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/world/asia/us-debates-drone-strike-on-american-terror-suspect-in-pakistan.html.
Judy Woodruff, “Obama Administration Faces Conundrum in Weighing Drone Attack against U.S. Terror Suspect.” PBS Newshour, February 11, 2014, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/obama-administration-weighs-drone-attack-against-us-terror-suspect/.
Student Researcher: Sorca Jordan (Indian River State College)
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen (Indian River State College)