If Obama Orders the CIA to Kill a U.S. Citizen, Amazon Will Be a Partner in Assassination

President Obama is now considering whether to order the Central Intelligence Agency to kill a U.S. citizen in Pakistan. That’s big news this week. But hidden in plain sight is the fact that Amazon would be an accessory to the assassination.

Amazon has a $600 million contract with the CIA to provide the agency with “cloud” computing services. After final confirmation of the deal several months ago, Amazon declared: “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.”

Amazon logo

The relationship means that Amazon — logoed with a smiley-face arrow from A to Z, selling products to millions of people every week — is responsible for keeping the CIA’s secrets and aggregating data to help the agency do its work. Including drone strikes.

Drone attacks in Pakistan are “an entirely CIA operation,” New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti said Tuesday night in an interview on the PBS NewsHour. He added that “the Pakistani government will not allow the [U.S.] military to take over the mission because they want to still have the sort of veneer of secrecy that the CIA provides.”

The sinister implications of Amazon’s new CIA role have received scant public attention so far.

As the largest Web retailer in the world, Amazon has built its business model on the secure accumulation and analysis of massive personal data. The firm’s Amazon Web Services division gained the CIA contract amid fervent hopes that the collaboration will open up vast new vistas for the further melding of surveillance and warfare.

Notably, Amazon did not submit the low bid for the $600 million contract. The firm won the deal after persuading the CIA of its superior technical capacities in digital realms.

Amazon is now integral to the U.S. government’s foreign policy of threatening and killing.

Any presidential decision to take the life of an American citizen is a subset of a much larger grave problem. Whatever the nationality of those who hear the menacing buzz of a drone overhead, the hijacking of skies to threaten and kill those below is unconscionable. And, as presently implemented, unconstitutional.

On Feb. 11 the Times reported that the Obama administration “is debating whether to authorize a lethal strike against an American citizen living in Pakistan who some believe is actively plotting terrorist attacks.” In effect, at issue is whether the president should order a summary execution — an assassination — on his say-so.

The American way isn’t supposed to be that way. The “due process of law” required by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution is not supposed to be whatever the president decides to do.

A free and independent press is crucial for confronting such dire trends. But structural factors of corporate power continue to undermine the potential of journalism. The Washington Post is a grim case in point.

Six months ago, Jeff Bezos — the CEO and main stakeholder of Amazon — bought the Post. But the newspaper’s ongoing CIA-related coverage does not inform readers that the CIA’s big contract with Amazon is adding to the personal wealth of the Post’s sole owner.

This refusal to make such conflict-of-interest disclosures is much more than journalistic evasion for the sake of appearances. It’s a marker for more consolidation of corporate mega-media power with government power. The leverage from such convergence is becoming ever-less acknowledged or conspicuous as it becomes ever-more routine and dominant.

After e-mail correspondence with me about the non-disclosure issue in early January, the executive editor of the Washington Post, Martin Baron, declined to answer questions from media outlets on the subject. On Jan. 15 – when I delivered aRootsAction.org petition under the heading “Washington Post: Readers Deserve Full Disclosure in Coverage of CIA,” signed by 30,000 people, to the newspaper’s headquarters — Baron declined to meet with me or designate any employee to receive the petition. Clearly the Post management wants this issue to go away.

But, as I wrote to Baron last month, it’s all too convenient — and implausible — for the Washington Post to claim 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.”

The surveillance state and the warfare state continue to converge. The Washington Post does not want us to insist on journalistic disclosure. Amazon does not want us to insist on moral accountability. President Obama does not want us to insist on basic constitutionality. It would be a shame to oblige any of them.

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Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

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  • American Cannibal

    We live in a food chain.

    • Andrew

      I could close my Amazon account, and otherwise cut down on my economic activities.

      • American Cannibal

        So where will you get your finger paints, if not from Amazon?

        • Andrew

          I’ll use my doodie.

          • American Cannibal

            You reek of talent, Andy.

          • Andrew

            And I haven’t even started yet!

          • American Cannibal

            Are you sure? Because I’m getting a distinct fecal scent coming through the screen here… oh no. wait.

            I gotta go. Bye.

  • Ted Heistman

    Amazon is also a big fan of hiring low paid temps to work in their warehouses. Ask me how I know…

    • American Cannibal

      Thanks for the reminder. I have a bunch of shit coming from Amazon this week. You on that?

      • Ted Heistman

        No, I quit. But I was a bit ironic packing $200 pairs of jeans all day long and then getting a $289 paycheck.

        • American Cannibal

          Well then please let your former colleagues know to make it snappy. There’s a big snow storm a’comin and I need those Ding Dongs, Purple Peters and lubes for a party this weekend. Can’t wait! Already got the spare bedroom decked out with the Liberator Bonbon and Swing Stand UPS delivered for the last party. Just waiting on the plastic sheets from Walmart, but I’ll email them separately, so no worries.

          Hey, $289 for a days work it pretty, pretty, pretty good.

          • Ted Heistman

            That was for a week.

          • American Cannibal

            And that’s why we need retail stores, so the employees can take those $200 jeans and sell them on the black market.

            Progress, Forward!

          • Ted Heistman

            They assumed everyone was trying to steal we got our bags searched everyday on the way out. From my experience nobody was.

          • echar

            If they were paying the employees a decent wage, they would be less inclined to steal. Mutual respect is the best way, imo. Also been there done that with the low paid, delayed benefits temp worker. I got at least ten years on my belt.

    • Juan

      I know man, the fuckers are just as bad as Walmart.
      We need a nation-wide GENEREAL STRIKE timed just right to cause maximum pain to The System.

      • American Cannibal

        What the hell am I suppose to do when you jokers go on strike and I can’t get my mail order cat food? WTF!

        • Juan

          Exactly:)

          • American Cannibal

            Animal Hater.

          • Anarchy Pony

            lulz

      • Ted Heistman

        Yeah, I think so. Its ridiculous to hear how well the economy is supposedly doing and no worker is making more money.

  • Spasmodius

    Maybe the term should be changed from assassinated to Amazonated, “two taps and you’re done”.
    A lump of hash wouldn’t buy you too many hitmen these days anyway, surely.
    (Unless it was some damn amazing hash.)

    • drokhole

      Or, “and you’re droned.”

  • American Cannibal

    FANNIE MAE

  • BuzzCoastin

    I always assume any global Homeland based bizmezz
    is part of the mibc until proven innocent
    butt
    Bezos went to Princeton
    was a tech guru for investment banksters before amazon
    and he based his startup in Seattle
    home of CIAsoft, Boeing and a lot of CIA stuff

  • AManCalledDa-da

    Da-da seems to recall that General Schwartzkopf, in the First Gulf War… or was it the Second? the Third?… was relieved of command when he said they were going to, “assassinate” someone or other, probably Saddam Hussein or somesuch. Well, that’s against the army’s charter, against the rules. It’s also against the rules for the POTUS. It’s illegal. It’s reprehensible. It’s… actually a lot of things, all of them bad.

    Da-da now calls on ANY mothership, anywhere, of any affiliation or primary color, to please land and remove all of Congress, all of the Executive Branch, and most of the Judicial Branch, all the lobbyists, banksters and their attorneys, all corrupt politicians and corporate… things… snag all of them and repurpose them on some nice happy planet with no people or animals on it, only cacti — cacti with extra stickers — so they can all live there and harvest cacti by hand and perhaps oe day realize that all self-serving people truly deserve one another.

  • Steven

    You guys are really a bunch of idiots.
    What about the grocery store next to the CIA headquarters ? They’re also accessory to murder because they feed CIA workers ?
    How about the electricity company ? The dentist that fix the teeth of CIA workers ? The water company that gives them water, bastards !!!

    May I suggest you find something a little bit smarter to do to improve social justice and human rights than this totally stupid attack on Amazon ?

  • Chaos_Dynamics

    Heads on pikes? Boring.

    Heads clutched by flying drones? Now that’s Entertainment.

  • Anti-Crowley

    Has anyone considered maybe they plan on using an Amazon delivery drone to give him a subpoena?

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