Khaleda Rahman — Daily Mail March 21, 2016
Hillary Clinton’s emails reveal how Google wanted to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad using a mapping tool.
At a time when America’s foreign policy was to topple Assad, the tech giant – whose corporate motto is ‘Don’t Be Evil’ – sought to encourage further defections from the leader’s regime and boost the confidence of the opposition.
The plan’s details were passed along to Clinton’s team by a Google executive Jared Cohen, who was a senior advisor to Clinton until 2010 and is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The 34-year-old left his State Department position after being poached by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt to run Google Ideas, now known as Jigsaw.
The revelation comes as Google’s plans to expand Internet access in Cuba were revealed by President Barack Obama on Monday.
Obama, who is on a historic trip to the communist nation, said in an interview with ABC News: ‘One of the things that we’ll be announcing here is that Google has a deal to start setting up more WiFi and broadband access on the island.’
In 2012, Google’s intention to get involved in Syrian affairs is highlighted in a memo from Cohen, who ran the company’s think tank, which has now changed its name from Google Ideas to Jigsaw, to a number of senior members of Clinton’s team.
Cohen addressed his email, with only the word ‘Syria’ written in the subject box, to deputy secretary of state Bill Burns, Alec Ross, a senior advisor to Clinton and Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan.
In it, he explained that the mapping tool will track and map the insurgents defecting from Assad.
Google also planned to stealthily hand the reins over to Al-Jazeera to ensure the data is broadcast into Syria, encouraging further defections and give confidence to the opposition.
Cohen wrote: ‘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 tracking and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition.’
The message was then forwarded by Sullivan to Clinton on July 25, 2012, with the note: ‘FYI – this is a pretty cool idea’.
The email exchange was shared on Saturday by WikiLeaks.
Earlier in the week, the website shared an archive of more than 30,000 emails from the Democratic presidential frontrunner’s tenure as Secretary of State, obtained through a Freedom of Information Request.
Elaborating on the plan to get the information to their intended recipients, Cohen added: ‘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.’
Cohen also include an attachment, a PDF called ‘Defection Tracker’, showing what the tool will look like in the email.
He added: ‘Please keep this very close hold and let me know if there is anything eke [sic] you think we need to account for or think about before we launch.
‘We believe this can have an important impact.’
Google’s code of conduct famously opens with the company’s corporate motto: ‘Don’t Be Evil’.
Parent company Alphabet, whose executive chairman is Schmidt, dropped the slogan last year, changing its code of conduct to encourage employees to ‘do the right thing.’
Google Ideas was founded in 2010 by Schmidt to understand and tackle global challenges.
Cohen left his job on the State Department’s Policy Planning Committee, where he was an advisor to Condoleezza Rice and later Clinton, when Schmidt approached him to head the New York-based ‘think/do tank’.
The company later became Jigsaw, with Cohen still serving as President.
Its mission is ‘to use technology to tackle the toughest geopolitical challenges, from countering violent extremism to thwarting online censorship to mitigating the threats associated with digital attacks.’
Meanwhile, Jigsaw has come under scrutiny for its attempts to incite regime changes and its close ties to the State Department.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Google ‘is not what it seems’ in an article for Newsweek in 2014.
He described Cohen as a ‘fast-talking “Generation Y” ideas man’ who had thrived at the State Department under two administrations before he was ‘poached in his early twenties.’
However, Cohen reportedly used social media to incite uprisings even before leaving the State Department, according to the Washington Examiner.
He reportedly asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to delay system maintenance that officials though could have obstructed an uprising in Iran in 2009.
But ironically, it was the efforts to overthrow Assad by supporting Syrian rebels which was exploited by ISIS and led to the rise of the terror group.