Recent disclosures of the revolving door between Amazon and the national security state have underlined the degree to which the company has been profiting from the “War on Terror”.
Tech giants made billions through contracts with the US military and other government agencies during the so-called “war on terror”, according to a report released ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
The main report, “Big Tech Sells War”, is available here:
Steve Pandelides, pictured above worked at the FBI from November 1999-March 2021, including at the National Counterterrorism Center and Operational Technology Division. He’s now the Director for Security at Amazon Web Services. Christine Halvorsen, above, also worked at the FBI, from March 2013-April 2019, including as Deputy Assistant Director for the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. She is now
Amazon Web Services Senior Technical Business Development Manager, and a Mission Acceleration Team Strategic Account Executive, for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Jana Kay had two tours of duty at the Department of “Defense”, 2005-2007, and 2009-2018, including as a Strategist for the Global War on Terrorism; from 2007-2009, she was a Strategic Planner, at the National Counterterrorism Center. She has been with Amazon Web Services as a Cloud Security Strategist, 2018-Present.
- The 2000s saw the rise of profits and prominence of US Big Tech. While tech corporations like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter became more and more a part of our everyday lives, these same companies were providing tools to the US military and government to help fuel their war on Muslim communities. From databases to drones, US Big Tech is complicit in and has profited from this never-ending war against Muslims at home and abroad.
- Big Tech has also been a vehicle for the rampant spread of Islamophobia since the start of the GWoT. Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s streaming service YouTube platform virulent anti-Muslim, xenophobic hate speech, and conspiracies that have fueled events like the 2019 Christchurch attack. These platforms also allow think tanks and individuals invested in the GWoT in some way to spread disinformation to justify its continuation. At the same time these platforms have censored BIPOC creators and activists for speaking out against state violence.
- While weapons manufacturers have rightly gotten much attention as war profiteers, tech also has a role in war against our communities. The United States remains the largest arms exporter in the world, but now tools to fight “war” are different and focused on what the tech and military industries refer to as the “digital battlefield” where metadata, drones, and artificial intelligence (AI) do the killing in the name of efficiency. Add the reality that surveillance has become an essential part of the GWoT and there is now an entire terro industry for Big Tech to profit from.
- Big Tech is benefitting from what some have called “terror capitalism,” the phenomenon of corporations profiting off of defining entire communities as “terrorists” and using these communities as test subjects for technology developed in service of counterterrorism, which can eventually also be deployed for other purposes. For the GWoT, it is Muslim communities across the globe who have been dehumanized as “terrorists” and have become test subjects for a wide range of technology from drones to databases.