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Tags: republicans | amazon | pentagon | jedi | contract

Republicans Question Amazon Connections to Pentagon

ken buck speaks at hearing
Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., questions U.S. Attorney General William Barr during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on July 28, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 13 July 2021 02:54 PM

Two Republican legislators are calling for Amazon to testify under oath about its connections to the Pentagon and the company’s attempts to secure a $10 billion contract during former President Donald Trump’s administration.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told The New York Times that Amazon should testify as to "whether it tried to improperly influence the largest federal contract in history," the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, project that shifts the Pentagon to a cloud-based network. Amazon, which was not awarded the contract, did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

Although the Pentagon eventually awarded the contract to Microsoft, that deal was later cancelled due to an ongoing legal battle between Amazon, Microsoft, and various other technology companies.

The Times reported that newly released emails between the Defense Department and major tech companies, and interviews with people familiar with the events show what the newspaper describes as "the evolving relationship between the Defense Department and the big technology companies at a time when the Pentagon is increasingly shifting its focus from planes, tanks and other hardware to software and initiatives involving artificial intelligence and machine learning."

These emails and interviews show that leading Pentagon officials heaped praise on Silicon Valley, leading to some of those tech firms receiving high-level access, which they used to push former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to shift the Pentagon towards cloud-computing technology. In one case, during a trip to California in 2017, "Mattis grew uncomfortable when he was subjected to a demonstration of Amazon’s cloud-computing products," during a visit that he thought was going to be a general discussion of cloud technology.

An aide to Mattis wrote in an email at the time that the event "seemed to morph into an AWS [Amazon Web Services] sales pitch," and said that Mattis "was nice and gracious but I didn’t get a good vibe out of it." The aide also said that the face-to-face meeting with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos "seemed to go very well," and noted that the two "did seem to click on a personal level."

The Defense Department inspector general determined in a report issued last year that the JEDI contract’s decision was not influenced by Trump’s opposition towards Amazon or Bezos, nor was it impacted by the connections between Amazon and the Pentagon.

The Times notes that the report omitted a line in an email that appeared to express concern about the "sales pitch" Mattis received while at Amazon headquarters in 2017. When asked about the omission, a spokesperson for the inspector general said in a statement: "Our JEDI Cloud Procurement report speaks for itself — we stand by our findings and conclusions."

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Politics
Two Republican legislators are calling for Amazon to testify under oath about its connections to the Pentagon and the company's attempts to secure a $10 billion contract during former President Donald Trump's...
republicans, amazon, pentagon, jedi, contract
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2021-54-13
Tuesday, 13 July 2021 02:54 PM
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