Report Says Big Tech Profited From War on Terror


Tech giants like Amazon, Google and Microsoft have made huge profits from US government contracts since the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington DC, according to a new report from three US activist groups. The report’s release was timed to coincide with Saturday’s 20th anniversary of atrocities, which killed nearly 3,000 people and sparked the US-led war on terrorism.

What does the report say?

The “Big Tech Sells War” report documents a massive increase in government contracts with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter since 2004, three years after the start of the war or terrorism.

The paper, written by the Action Center on Race and the Economy and social justice groups LittleSis and MPower Change, details how the growth of military and government contracts came along with the tech giants’ web platforms. have become ubiquitous. The report’s authors said the biggest contracts came from the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.

Among all US agencies, at least $ 44.5 billion (€ 37.6 billion) in contracts have been awarded to Big Techfirms. According to the report, 86% of Amazon’s government contracts and 77% of Google’s were at the heart of the war on terror.

In 2019, two tech giants edged out the others, with Amazon signing nearly five times and Microsoft signing eight times as many federal contracts and sub-contracts compared to 2015. The report drew its data from Tech Inquiry, a tool online that allows users to explore US Government Contracts.

Easy route from government to Big Tech

Activist groups also pointed to a “revolving door” between government agencies and tech giants, detailing how hundreds of government workers have taken positions with the same US multinationals that have been awarded huge contracts.

Among them was Jared Cohen, a former State Department employee, who later founded Google’s Jigsaw, a technology incubator that aims to explore “threats to public companies.” One of Jigsaw’s first projects was to develop counterterrorism tools for social media platforms.

Another example is that of Steve Pandelides, who worked for the FBI for over 20 years and is now Director of Security at Amazon Web Services. Activist groups have called for stricter rules to regulate the revolving door between the government and Silicon Valley.

What has changed during the war on terrorism?

Al-Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington DC on September 11, 2001 triggered new national security laws and a prolonged military campaign to eradicate terrorism from the world.

The campaign became known as the US-led War on Terror and sparked the invasion of Afghanistan – the hideout of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden – and later Iraq. , even though Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was unrelated to the September 11 attacks. .

Nearly 20 years of post-9/11 wars have cost Washington more than $ 8 trillion and caused an estimated 900,000 deaths, according to estimates from Brown University’s Costs of War Project. September 11 ushered in an era of heightened surveillance, where the fight against terrorism became the rationale for new security laws and government oversight, ranging from the collection of mass data to the increasing use of ‘artificial intelligence tools.

Muslims, in particular, have been targeted and continue to face discrimination, suspicion and human rights violations as a result of the increased surveillance.

mm / dj (AFP, Reuters)

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