Now, as the Wikileaks founder faces days of questioning by a Swedish special prosecutor over rape allegations inside his Ecuadorian Embassy haven in London today — and particularly in wake of the presidential election — Assange’s warning Google “is not what it seems” must be revisited.
Under intense scrutiny by the U.S. State Department for several controversial Wikileaks’ publications of leaked documents in 2011, Assange first met Google Executive Chairman, then-CEO, Eric Schmidt, who approached the political refugee under the premise of a new book. Schmidt, whose worth Forbes estimates exceeds $11 billion, partnered with Council on Foreign Relations and State Department veteran, Jared Cohen, for the work, tentatively titled The Empire of the Mind — and asked Assange for an interview.
Later acknowledging naïvte in agreeing to meet the pair of tech heavyweights, Assange found afterward how enmeshed in and integral to U.S. global agendas Schmidt and Cohen had become.
In fact, both have exhibited quite the fascination with technology’s role in burgeoning revolutions — including, but not-at-all limited to, the Arab Spring. Schmidt created a position for Cohen in 2009, originally called Google Ideas, now Google Jigsaw, and the two began weaving the company’s importance to the United States into narratives in articles, political donations, and through Cohen’s former roles at the State Department.
That same year, Schmidt and Cohen co-authored an article for the CFR journal Foreign Affairs, which, seven years hence, appears a rather prescient discussion of Google’s self-importance in governmental affairs. Under the subheading “COALITIONS OF THE CONNECTED,” they wrote [all emphasis added]:
“In an era when the power of the individual and the group grows daily, those governments that ride the technological wave will clearly be best positioned to assert their influence and bring others into their orbits. And those that do not will find themselves at odds with their citizens.
“Democratic states that have built coalitions of their militaries have the capacity to do the same with their connection technologies. […] they offer a new way to exercise the duty to protect citizens around the world who are abused by their governments or barred from voicing their opinions.”