I would like to open by apologizing for the length of this posting but I want to make certain that I cover all pertinent information in a single posting.
Earlier this month, I posted an article on the Deep State, the unseen quasi-governmental group that has the real control over the American federal government. In that article, I mentioned that Silicon Valley is heavily involved in Washington's business and one of the 30,000 plus emails that Hillary Clinton has released from her private, non-secure email server has shed a bit of light on the connection between the federal government and the tech sector.
Thanks to Wikileaks, here
is the email in question:
"UNCLASSIFIED U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2014-20439 Doc No. C05795577 Date: 01/07/2016
RELEASE IN PART B6
Sent: Saturday, August 4, 2012 1:51 PM
Subject: Fw: Syria
Attachments: Defection Tracker.pdf
From: Sullivan, Jacob J [mailto:SullivanJJ©state.gov ]
Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 06:20 PM
To: H Subject: FVV: Syria
FYI — this is a pretty cool idea.
From: Jared Cohen [mailto Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 1:21 PM
To: Burns, William J; Sullivan, Jacob J; ale.ross
Deputy Secretary Burns, Jake, Alec, Please keep close hold, but my team is planning to launch a tool on Sunday that will publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from. Our logic behind this is that while many people are tracking the atrocities, nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition. Given how hard it is to get information into Syria right now, we are partnering with Al-Jazeera who will take primary ownership over the tool we have built, track the data, verify it, and broadcast it back into Syria. I've attached a few visuals that show what the tool will look like. Please keep this very close hold and let me know if there is anything eke you think we need to account for or think about before we launch. We believe this can have an important impact.
Jared Cohen I Director of r't ": •Tel"
Who is Jared Cohen and why is he contacting then Deputy Secretary of State William Burns who served part of his tenure under Hillary Clinton? Jared Cohen is currently the president of Jigsaw
, which was previously known as Google Ideas. Jigsaw is Google's think-tank, a technology incubator that is tasked with the following mission:
"…to use technology to tackle the toughest geopolitical challenges, from countering violent extremism to thwarting online censorship to mitigated the threats associated with digital attacks."
I will bet that you had no idea that Google was active in the fight against terrorism, did you?
Jared Cohen has a long history of working with the Department of State as an advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. As well, he is an Adjunct Senior Fellow
with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), an "independent, non-partisan membership organization, think tank and publisher" that many people believe is a "public organ of the Deep State
". The CFR counts America's elite politicians, academics and media personalities among its members and publishes research that are used in decision-making by Washington. For your information, you can find a complete listing of the group's membership here
; note that the membership includes William and Chelsea Clinton, Richard Cheney and Colin Powell among others. In addition to his duties for the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Cohen serves as a member of the National Counterterrorism Center's
director's advisory board. The NTCC was established by Executive Order in 2004 and serves as the"…primary organization in the U.S. government for integrating and analyzing all intelligence pertaining to counterterrorism.". He serves on the board of advisors for companies including ASAPP, Rivet Ventures, SineWave and QSI. He has authored four books and was named as one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" by Foreign Policy. Obviously, this is a very well connected man.
Interestingly, Mr. Cohen had travelled to Syria in September 2010 with Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Office of the Secretary of State. Here
is an email from Alec Ross to the same William Burns who was Deputy Secretary of State:
Sent: Friday, September 24, 2010 3:04 PM
To: Burns, William 3; Feltman, Jeffrey D; Sullivan, Jacob J; Crocker, Bathsheba N; Mills, Cheryl D
Subject: 1st known case of a successful social media campaign in Syria
When Jared and I went to Syria, it was because we knew that Syrian society was growing increasingly young (population will double in 17 years) and digital and that this was going to create disruptions in society that we could potential harness for our purposes. In what is the 1st of what I predict will be many interesting cases in the future, this past week a campaign went viral on Facebook in Syria (even though Facebook is outlawed in Syria it is widely accessed through proxies) showing teachers in Syria abusing their pupils. Thousands of Syrians made public their support on Facebook (the fact that people made their identities known is notable) for the campaign to remove these teachers, and the Ministry of Education intervened and fired the teachers. This is the first known case of a successful social media campaign in Syria.
Senior Advisor for Innovation Office of the Secretary of State
RossAJ@State.gov" (my bold)
"…potential (sic) harness for our purposes…"? And what purposes would those be?
As well, to help you put the first email into context, Jacob J. Sullivan (aka Jake) who noted that this was a "pretty cool idea" served as Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning and now serves as her top foreign policy adviser to her current presidential campaign
Now, let's go back to the email dated July 25, 2012 and put it into context of what was happening in Syria at the time and some history, focussing on the United States connection to the ongoing civil war. Syria's homegrown version of the Arab Spring began on March 15, 2011 when Syria's government met peaceful protests against the Assad regime in several towns and cities, particularly Damascus and Homs, with force. In April 2011, hundreds were killed in Daraa and Damascus by government forces and by May 2011, the United States had imposed sanctions on Bashar al Assad and some of his senior government officials. In June 2011, more than 120 soldiers were killed by armed rebels which may have been partially composed of defected members of the security forces. In July 2011, the U.S. government stated that Assad has lost his legitimacy as head of state and military defectors formed the Free Syrian Army. In August 2011, the United States, EU and United Kingdom demanded that Assad step down and the Syrian National Council, an anti-Assad coalition formed in Istanbul, Turkey, an avowed enemy of Assad. In October, 2011, The United Nations Security Council attempted to pass a resolution condemning Assad and his government, however, Russia and China vetoed it. In January 2012, the Arab League called for Assad to step down and Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, is formed to fight against the regime. In February 2012, the United Nations once again tabled a resolution requesting that Assad step down but it is vetoed by China and Russia. The United States closed its embassy. In March 2012, Syrian troops retake Homs from the Free Syrian Army. In April 2012, Kofi Annan brokered a ceasefire and Assad stated that he had regained control of Syria. The United States pledged to provide communications equipment to rebel forces. In May 2012, free parliamentary elections are held and are boycotted by opposition forces with Assad and his allies winning the majority of the seats. In June 2012, Assad warned that his nation faces war and tensions between Turkey and Syria rose after a Turkish reconnaissance jet is shot down in Syrian airspace. In July 2012, the same month that the aforementioned email by Jared Cohen crossed the desk of Hillary Clinton, a bomb attack by the Free Syrian Army killed the defence minister and his deputy, Assad's brother-in-law. High profile defections from the Assad government rose. Rebels took control of eastern Aleppo and the United Nations once again threatened sanctions against Syria but these are vetoed by China and Russia. Assad announced that he will use chemical and biological weapons if Syria is attacked by a foreign power.
As you can see from this timeline the United States was increasingly involving itself in actions that would have seen the end of Bashar al-Assad, similar to what happened in the cases of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi. The Obama Administration was willing to stoop to any level to rid Syria of Bashar al-Assad and a system of tracking defectors and feeding that back to Syria using the broadcasting capabilities of al-Jazeera would have been a very useful tool to destabilize the Assad regime. What the current administration seems to have forgotten is that destabilizing the Libyan and Iraqi regimes ended up creating a geopolitical vacuum that resulted in the rise of ISIS and various al-Qaeda proxies. Thanks to the ongoing geopolitical meddling in the region, the world is definitely not a safer place.
This single email from Hillary Clinton's once private collection gives us a surficial but interesting glimpse into the Deep State and the connection between the private sector (in this case, Silicon Valley) and the American security and state apparatus. We should not forget that there are thousands upon thousands of unelected Americans who have significant control over the direction that Washington takes, particularly on issues that impact national security.
to read more of Glen Asher's columns