A new report has highlighted the close ties between the Pentagon and some of the largest titans in Silicon Valley.
In 2016, Eric Schmidt, then chairman of Google's mother Alphabet, saw how Predator drone operators at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada destroyed a truck in a combat zone somewhere in the world, three sources said ProPublica.
A Ministry of Defense spokeswoman confirmed to DailyMail.com that members of the Defense Innovation Board, a Pentagon advisory panel chaired by Schmidt, visited Creech on July 6, 2016.
Neil deGrasse Tyson was also a member of the Defense Innovation Board at the time – although it is unclear whether he had also witnessed the deadly drone attack. The Tyson representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google, can be seen on a file photo. He was reportedly on hand to see how Predator drone operators destroyed a truck in July 2016
An American Air Force pilot (L) and a censor operator (R) are preparing to launch an MQ-1B Predator from a ground control station at a secret airbase in the Persian Gulf region in this file photo
This file image shows an artist's impression of an American drone firing a rocket
The Pentagon says the board is an essential way for defense planners to gain insight into rapidly evolving technology, and site visits such as those at Creech allow the board to see current technology in action and make recommendations for improvement.
But the cozy relationship between the Pentagon and Silicon Valley is being re-examined as some of the largest technology companies compete for the huge 10-year, $ 10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to provide cloud services for the Pentagon.
During Schmidt's visit to the drone operation center in Creech, the billionaire noted that the Predator operators seemed to be using technology that was stuck in the 1970s, and one present even suggested that artificial intelligence could potentially help ProPublica to achieve potential goals identify.
Just over a year after Schmidt's visit, Google won a $ 17 million Pentagon sub-contract for Project Maven, which used machine learning and AI to help the army identify drone targets.
Schmidt (center) can be seen during a meeting of the Defense Innovation Board at the Pentagon in January 2017
Google declined to comment on ProPublica and did not respond to messages from DailyMail.com.
Faced with recoil of his own & # 39; awakened & # 39; employees leaked after Project Maven's message, Google said last year that it would not extend the contract – and also stopped it for JEDI.
Now only Amazon and Microsoft remain as JEDI finalists, after protracted protests and challenges for the bidding processes of eliminated competitors Oracle and IBM.
Oracle has heard the loudest sound about the bidding process, and has accused Amazon in various ways of favoring DoD officials.
A surprising incident that took place in August 2017, when the then Secretary of Defense James Mattis flew to the west coast to personally swear Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon at the Defense Innovation Board, sources reported to ProPublica.
The then Secretary of Defense James Mattis (left) meets Jeff Bezos at the Amazon headquarters on 10 August 2017. A planned oath at the meeting was abruptly canceled
The ceremony was abruptly canceled after Roma Laster, a Pentagon employee, sent an urgent email to Mattis' Chief of Staff, stating that it was a & # 39; notable exception & # 39; would be for Mattis to personally perform the ceremony.
Slander also raised the alarm that Bezos had not submitted to a background check to obtain the required security clearance for the advisory board, the sources said.
Amazon says that Bezos has never been told that it needs a security clearance and has submitted all required documents.
However, Mattis met Bezos, and on the same trip he met Apple CEO Tim Cook as well as Google's Sundar Pichai and Sergey Brin.
& # 39; Department leaders are expected to work with the industry in a complete and open manner within legal boundaries to find ways to reform our business practices and build a more deadly force & # 39 ;, a defense official told DailyMail. com.
Former Defense Minister Ash Carter (left) gives Bezos a tour of the Pentagon during a visit on 5 May 2016
The Amazon defenders note that Mattis met Bezos long before the JEDI request for proposals was published in March 2018.
Slander, who raised the alarm about the demolished Bezos ceremony, said she was being abandoned as a federal officer for the Defense Innovation Board.
She was removed from the position in November 2017, but remains a DoD employee according to DoPublica.
& # 39; I was betrayed by an organization that I joined when I was 17 years old, & # 39; Laster, who is 54, told the publicity. & # 39; This is an organization built on loyalty, dedication and patriotism. Unfortunately it is a kind of one-way traffic. & # 39;
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