Clinton email reveals Google working in 2012 on a tool to support Syrian uprising
One of the more amazing revelations in the 30,000 Hillary Clinton emails posted on Wikileaks last week was that Google was in 2012 working on a tool to support the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The Washington Examiner highlights an email originally sent by Google Idea‘s Jared Cohen to Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan, who forwarded it on to Clinton. Cohen was a former State Department staffer who subsequently became a senior Google exec.
Cohen described a tool that Google believed could help to destabilise the Assad regime, and Sullivan said to Clinton that it was ‘a pretty cool idea,’ no-one realizing at that point how things were going to unfold …
“Please keep close hold, but my team is planning to launch a tool … that will publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from,” Jared Cohen, the head of what was then the company’s “Google Ideas” division, wrote in a July 2012 email to several top Clinton officials.
“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,” Cohen said, adding that the plan was for Google to surreptitiously give the tool to Middle Eastern media.
Google worked with Arabic news channel Al Jazeera to ensure news of the defections was made public.
As the Examiner notes, the initiative highlights the risks in a company involving itself in matters of state.
While Cohen seemed to consider his company’s effort as helpful to American interests, the effort to overthrow Assad helped spur the rise of the Islamic State, which eventually filled a vacuum resulting from Assad’s loss of control over of Syria.