November 22, 2009
I've always been hesitant to complain about
Google in these pages. After all, that company is the founder of the feast:
Google owns Blogger, without which we would
lack many blogs, including the one you are reading at present.
But I'm concerned by Google's new Chrome OS, the
operating system that relies on "cloud computing."
Under the new regime, you place your files on
the net, not on your system, and you access those files via your browser.
The only programs available to you would be those bestowed upon you by the
gods of the internet.
The upside of this approach is obvious:
The computer will switch on much
faster, you won't have to pay for a hard drive, and you can't lose data when
your drive goes bad.
Chrome OS, the only onboard drive is solid state.
(Of course, the financial burden imposed by the traditional hard drive
set-up isn't so onerous these days - you can get a terrabyte for about a
The downside should be equally obvious. What about periods when you aren't
connected to the net?
I had a very irritating month earlier this year,
waiting for ATT to hook me up; eventually, I got sick of waiting and took my
business elsewhere. Even when connected, the Chrome OS throughput probably
would not allow for image processing, video editing, game playing or even
the design of a fairly complex web page.
And how will files be named? By URL? That would suck.
A lot of commenters don't talk about what I consider the most important
Can we trust Google with our data?
Before we proceed, please understand: I spend a lot of time making fun of
I have a phobic reaction toward people who think that
Freemasons run the universe, and I don't have much sympathy for nutjobs who
seek out covert Illuminati messages on dollar bills. Nevertheless, I retain
a healthy paranoia when it comes to three letters: CIA.
Spies are real. They're not figments of Alex Jones' imagination.
History teaches us that nations fall into decay when their Janissaries
attain too much power. History also teaches us that the "war on terror" can
be and has been used as a pretext for repressing dissent. I'm an old-school
lefty who thought that
Frank Church was one of the good guys. I think that
every citizen of every nation must strive to keep all spooks leashed.
Is there a longstanding relationship between Google and the CIA? Yes.
While we don't have as much evidence as we would like - in these realms, we
never have as much evidence as we would like - the evidence we do have
suggests that Google and the Agency have a long and abiding history
Google is the source of
Intellipedia, a version of Wikipedia which allows
intelligence professionals to trade information about their targets. We may
fairly presume that the Google personnel who have worked on this program
must have high security clearances, and that the physical servers are
protected by the United States government.
Intellipedia was set up in 2006. It would be naive to suggest that the
Google/gummint relationship does not stretch back much further.
Folks in the intelligence community must have
very good reason to trust Google, or they would worry about back doors in
Is Intellipedia subject to FOIA requests? I suspect it is, although
the matter has not been put to the test.
Here's a fun factoid:
Barack Obama has created at least one Intellipedia
entry. He wrote about
Occidental College, or so it has been reported. As
Arte Johnson used to say:
The head guy at
Oxy's political science department was an old CIA hand close to
Brzezinski. No-one really knows why Obama chose Oxy.
End side notes
In-Q-Tel, the CIA venture capital firm, has
invested in Google.
In-Q-Tel sold some $2.2 million worth of Google
stock back in 2005. That stock was acquired when Google took over the
In-Q-Tel funded firm that gave us the technology behind
Although some news stories have indicated that the relationship ended with
the 2005 stock sale, the linkages between Google and spookworld are
And they go back to the very beginning of the firm.
A former CIA case
Robert David Steele - best known for his congressional
testimony on the insufficient attention given to open source intelligence -
has on several occasions said that the CIA funded Google in the early days.
said this in an interview with the
dreaded Alex Jones. But Steele has made
the same claim elsewhere.
I strongly urge you to read
this important article on HS Today (a site
devoted to Homeland Security). The author is Anthony Kimery, a name
long known to me; I consider him both cautious and trustworthy.
Robert David Steele, intelligence veteran and CEO of OSS.Net, Inc.
which sponsored last week’s event, told HSToday.us Tuesday evening that,
"Google is being actively hypocritical and
deceptive in playing up its refusal to help the Department of Justice
when all along it has been taking money and direction for elements of
the US Intelligence Community, including the Office of Research and
Development at the Central Intelligence Agency, In-Q-Tel, and in all
probability, both the National Security Agency (NSA) and the
Intelligence and Security Command."
“I have no doubt that Google, in its
arrogance, decided it could make a deal with the devil and not get
“...In my view, a secret financial and secret information sharing
relationship with the US Intelligence Community - or any other
intelligence community - violates everything about Google that should be
sacred, and suggests that we can no longer trust them to live up to
their original ethos.”
officially denied Steele's
However, Kimery developed other sources who verified Steele's
Google’s alleged secret relationship with the US
intelligence community (IC)
was divulged by an IT contractor and confirmed by US intelligence
authorities familiar with the matter during the OSS.Net IOP conference near
The contractor, who spoke on a
not-for-attribution basis, said that at least one US intelligence agency he
declined to identify is working to “leverage Google’s [user] data
monitoring” capability as part of an effort by the IC to glean from this
data information of “national security intelligence interest” in the war on
The intelligence sources, also speaking on a not-for-attribution basis,
would not say under what authority the IC had obtained Google’s cooperation,
or which intelligence agency is involved. One of the sources did say,
however, that the CIA’s Office of Research and Development “has been giving
them additional money and guidance and requirements.”
The spies may now use data mining technology to follow the click stream
trail left by each Google user.
"Click streams" are the paths visitors take through a web site. Analyzing
click stream data can help uncover navigation patterns and common paths. In
short: User browsing habits, from which a great deal can be gleaned.
Tellingly, Google and Spookworld have a mutual revolving door when it comes
Former IC software engineers are known to
have worked for Google, and Google technical job announcements have
noted applicants seeking to work on the Google Search Appliance “must
have current government top security clearance” at the TS/SI level.
"SI," or special intelligence, is a euphemism for communications
To see one such job announcement - from as far
back as 2002 -
go here and scroll down.
Steele has named Google's main contact at CIA's Office of Research and
Development: Dr. Rick Steinheiser.
Unsurprisingly, researching Steinheiser is not easy, although we know that
he has long had an interest in
data mining. (See the acknowledgment
His CIA employment is confirmed
Google (the search engine) reports that Steinheiser also gave a lecture on
data mining at a conference hosted by
the Mitre Corporation. I tried to call
up those pages, only to encounter a "dangerous site" warning on Firefox.
Simultaneously, my malware detector told me that
I had picked up a virus that needed to be quarantined immediately. If ever I
try to look up anything Mitre-related again, I'll do so on a library
The bottom line is this:
The CIA, through
Google, can track your web habits
Facebook, the intelligence community can track your interactions
with your friends
And now, if you use Chrome OS, the data
miners will finally gain access to your sanctum sanctorum - your
The final door will spring open - and you will have provided the key to the
Many will say:
"So what? I've got nothing to worry about.
I've done nothing wrong!"
Even if everything you do on the computer is
innocent, ask yourself this:
Would you allow federal agents to enter
your home without a warrant in order to scan the contents of your
bookshelves and rifle through your physical files?
Would you ever allow agents unfettered
access to your physical mailbox?
No. Purely as a matter of principle, you'd tell
those snoops to go to hell.
At least, that's what your fathers and mothers and grandfathers and
grandmothers would have said. The new generation is, I fear, far more sheeplike.
In former times, Americans were taught to sneer at those foreign citizens
who reacted with servility whenever the NKVD or the Stasi intruded into
private life. Yet modern Americans are now far more obeisant. We willingly
Facebook. And now many of us will entrust our most private documents to
What's next? Are we all going to place hidden microphones in our own
bedrooms and send the transmitter frequency to D.C.?
In the recent film The Good Shepherd (a thinly disguised bio of CIA
counterintelligence officer James Jesus Angleton) a character based on
Richard Helms relates an amusing but unnerving anecdote.
A congressman had asked "Helms" a question of
"Why do you guys call yourselves 'CIA'? Why
don't you use the word 'the' - as in the CIA?"
"Because you don't refer to the God."