Mar 21, 2016 ยท 2 minutes

Being always right isn’t as fun as you might think.

A few weeks back I suggested that former State Department staffer Jared Cohen, now head of Google Jigsaw (formerly Google Ideas) might be abusing his position at the company to stealthily act as an agent for his former government bosses.

While the story got a decent amount of play on political Twitter, it was pretty much ignored inside the tech industry. After all, it sounds like a conspiracy theory. A former state department official acting essentially as a secret agent inside the world’s most powerful tech company, to turn it into a private arm of the US intelligence services? Please.

Well guess what.

Newly released Hillary Clinton emails, published on Wikileaks,  show that Jared Cohen, head of Google Jigsaw, has been acting as a secret agent for the state department, turning the world’s most powerful tech company into a private arm of the US intelligence services.

Specifically, the emails reveal that Cohen used Google resources to secretly develop a tool to track dissidents inside the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and leak that information to the media.  He also boasted that Al Jazeera had already agreed to publish the information found via the tool.

In 2012, Cohen emailed Clinton deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan, deputy secretary of state Bill Burns and senior Clinton adviser Alec Ross to tell them about the project. He asked that they keep a “close hold” on the information.

From: Jared Cohen [mailto Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 1:21 PM To: Burns, William J; Sullivan, Jacob J; alec.ross

Subject: Syria

Deputy Secretary Burns, Jake, Alec,

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 representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition.

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. I've attached a few visuals that show what the tool will look like. Please keep this very close hold and let me know if there is anything eke you think we need to account for or think about before we launch. We believe this can have an important impact. Thanks,


Jared Cohen 

Sullivan forwarded the email to Clinton with the note “this is a pretty cool idea.”

A secret government spy using Google data and resources to build spying tools to help the US State Department encourage regime change in Syria.

Pretty cool!