In this extract from his new book When Google Met Wikileaks, WikiLeaks' publisher Julian Assange describes the special relationship between Google, Hillary Clinton and the State Department -- and what that means for the future of the internet. WikiLeaks readers can obtain a 20 percent discount on the cover price when ordering from the OR Books website by using the coupon code "WIKILEAKS".
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Eric Schmidt is an influential figure, even among the parade of powerful characters with whom I have had to cross paths since I founded WikiLeaks. In mid-May 2011 I was under house arrest in rural Norfolk, about three hours drive northeast of London. The crackdown against our work was in full swing and every wasted moment seemed like an eternity. It was hard to get my attention. But when my colleague Joseph Farrell told me the executive chairman of Google wanted to make an appointment with me, I was listening. In some ways the higher echelons of Google seemed more distant and obscure to me than the halls of Washington. We had been locking horns with senior US officials for years by that point. The mystique had worn off. But the power centers growing up in Silicon Valley were still opaque and I was suddenly conscious of an opportunity to understand and influence what was becoming the most influential company on earth. Schmidt had taken over as CEO of Google in 2001 and built it into an empire.1 I was intrigued that the mountain would come to Muhammad. But it was not until well after Schmidt and his companions had been and gone that I came to understand who had really visited me.
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The stated reason for the visit was a book. Schmidt was penning a treatise with Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, an outfit that describes itself as Googles in-house think/do tank. I knew little else about Cohen at the time. In fact, Cohen had moved to Google from the US State Department in 2010. He had been a fast- talking Generation Y ideas man at State under two US administrations, a courtier from the world of policy think tanks and institutes, poached in his early twenties. He became a senior advisor for Secretaries of State Rice and Clinton. At State, on the Policy Planning Staff, Cohen was soon christened Condis party-starter, channeling buzzwords from Silicon Valley into US policy circles and producing delightful rhetorical concoctions such as Public Diplomacy 2.0.2 On his Council on Foreign Relations adjunct staff page he listed his expertise as terrorism; radicalization; impact of connection technologies on 21st century statecraft; Iran.3
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