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Jimmy Dore says in this video,

Their owner has a 600 million dollar deal with the CIA. Six hundred million dollars, how much is that Jimmy? That's three times what the Washington Post is fucking worth. He has a deal with the CIA, and they never put an editor's note next to story they run about the hacking, or Russia, or Syria. They never put a "hey by the way, the owner of this newspaper has a 600 million dollar deal with the deep state."

So is the owner of The Washington Post benefiting from CIA funds to the tune of 600 million dollars?

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    This question's phrased in a very misleading way, as it's technically true for anyone who owns Amazon.com stock. – Nat May 31 '17 at 5:24
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    It's almost like saying that the guys at Starbucks have a deal with the CIA just because some CIA employees buy coffee from them. – T. Sar Jun 1 '17 at 12:51
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    @EvanCarroll That's why I said almost! :P – T. Sar Jun 1 '17 at 12:56
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    Seems strange that your selecting a self-authored answer that isn't the clear vote leader. I think I've done that on some other sites, but not when the voting and views were so high. – Mark Rogers Jun 1 '17 at 17:54
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    @TylerH A branch of Amazon.com, AWS, is the world's largest cloud service provider. Allegedly, the CIA contracted AWS's assistance in setting up their own, internal cloud. Verifying if this story is true would be an appropriate, on-topic question for SE.Skeptics. However, this question unnecessarily convoluted it with an inference to this being leverage on the CEO who also owns a media outlet, then answers their own question by quoting a political petition. They then accept their own, negatively-voted answer over many highly-voted answers provided by others. It's just really underhanded. – Nat Jun 1 '17 at 19:29
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This claim has two parts: an explicit claim (that the CIA has a deal with Jeff Bezos), and an implicit one (that this creates a conflict of interest).

The explict claim is FALSE

The CIA has no deal with Jeff Bezos. They have a deal with Amazon, which is a publicly traded company.

Sources (swiped verbatim from ChrisW's excellent answer): The current owner of The Washington Post is Jeff Bezos, who also founded Amazon.

News from Fortune.com (among others) in 2015 reports,

Intelligence community loves its new Amazon cloud

Two years ago, the CIA selected AWS to build and run a special, secure cloud to be used by 17 intelligence-related agencies, in a contract valued at $600 million. That was a watershed event for Amazon, the leader in public cloud services.

The implicit claim is unproven, and probably unprovable

It seems likely to us (us being the non-billionaire users of this site) that it certainly creates the appearance of a conflict of interest for Jeff Bezos, since he owns big chunks of both Amazon and the Washington Post. And we can assume that if the CEO of the paper chooses to get involved, the writers and editorial staff of the Post might feel a conflict.

But there's no proof of that actually happening. For an intervention in the Post's policies to occur without us knowing about it, dozens of people are likely to have to agree to suppress the truth.

Should the Post acknowledge this linkage?
Let's do a thought experiment: does Jimmy Dore acknowledge who contributes to his support? If some group were to have bought large blocks of tickets or CDs, or to have committed to underwrite a show, should he have to?

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    Comments moved to chat. Please avoid extended discussion in comments. – Jamiec Jun 1 '17 at 16:06
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    600 mil * 25% profit margin * 17% ownership stake = $24 million. That's Bezos' part of the deal, potentially. The claim is misleading because "he has a deal" for the most people means that he is getting paid 600 million directly, as an athlete or an actor would. – ventsyv Jun 1 '17 at 16:27
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    @ventsyv It's worth observing that the 24 million represents 0.028% of Mr. Bezos' net worth. With the average American net worth of $68828 as of the 2011 census that's like $20. Yeah, it's cool to find 20 bucks, but it's hardly mind blowing or life altering. – corsiKa Jun 1 '17 at 23:49
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So is the owner of The Washington Post benefiting from CIA funds to the tune of 600 million dollars?

Technically yes, but the video strongly implies an improper conflict of interest, a claim with only very circumstantial evidence.

Background: Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, is still its CEO and largest shareholder. Bezos also purchased the Washington Post in 2013.

The Washington Post does put disclaimers in any stories it writes concerning Bezos himself, and stories involving Amazon.com, some in the text of the article, others in an editor's note.

But the original video appears to be claiming that the Washington Post has an obligation to disclaim any stories involving merely customers of Amazon services. This seems impractical and unnecessary, since Amazon services are so widely used.

The CIA is simply one of Amazon's customers, and not even a particularly large one:

The CIA deal involves 600 million spread over 10 years, or 60 million per year:

In early 2013, after weighing bids from Amazon Web Services, IBM and an unnamed third vendor, the CIA awarded a contract to AWS worth up to $600 million over a period of up to 10 years.

60 million represents only 0.5% of AWS's $12 billion yearly revenue, which is an even smaller fraction of Amazon's overall $136 billion annual revenue.

Finding details for other contracts with AWS is difficult, but The CIA isn't even in the top 10 enterprise customers for AWS (if this source is to be believed), nor is it included in AWS's list of Case Studies, some of which describe very large installations.

So unless you're going to require the Washington Post to put a disclaimer every time they mention the Dow Jones, or Netflix, or Comcast, requiring a disclaimer on an article mentioning the CIA seems impractical and unnecessary.

29

So is the owner of The Washington Post benefiting from CIA funds to the tune of 600 million dollars?

Yes.

The current owner of The Washington Post is Jeff Bezos, who also founded Amazon.

News from Fortune.com (among others) in 2015 reports,

Intelligence community loves its new Amazon cloud

Two years ago, the CIA selected AWS to build and run a special, secure cloud to be used by 17 intelligence-related agencies, in a contract valued at $600 million. That was a watershed event for Amazon, the leader in public cloud services.

They never put a "hey by the way, the owner of this newspaper has a 600 million dollar deal with the deep state.

I'm not sure that the CIA's decision (to do business with AWS) is based on or affected by the editorial position or content of The Washington post.

By some measures, AWS may be bigger than its next three biggest competitors put together (Amazon's cloud is bigger than Microsoft, Google and IBM combined, researcher says), and Amazon is a publicly-traded company.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jamiec Jun 1 '17 at 19:56
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True

Though Amazon is publicly traded, Jeff Bezos owns 16.9% of the shares worth $69.3 billion and remains the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer. source: wallst.com

The source of that claim is revealed in this clip by Jerry Dore to be a now unavailable article published on December 19, 2013 by The Nation which you can find on The Wayback Machine. That article is titled Washington Post’ and That $600 MIllion CIA Contract. This article is not retracted, it's just not hosted anymore.

That article cites this petition on Roots Action which reads,

The Washington Post should be honest with readers about a big conflict of interest: The newspaper's new owner Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon -- which recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA.

The Post often does reporting on CIA activities. The coverage should include full disclosure that the owner of the Washington Post is also the main owner of Amazon -- and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.

They cite numerous reputable sources for this,

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protected by Community Jun 4 '17 at 23:39

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