Special Reports

Amazon CEO Hits Department of Defense for Giving Tech Deal to Microsoft

Jeff Bezos
(Photo : Getty Images)
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the U.S. is in "big trouble" if the Pentagon is abandoned by major tech companies.

Bezos said on Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California that his point of view is that if big tech turns its back on the Defense Department, the country would be in great trouble.

"We are going to support the Department of Defense, this country is important," he said.

His statement comes shortly after Amazon filed a lawsuit on Friday opposing the Pentagon's decision to award the only other bidder in the procurement process to its massive war cloud contract - Microsoft.

The suit was filed in the United States. The Federal Court of Claims is over the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI), a winner-take-all job valued at around $10 billion. It is meant to help upgrade and transfer classified data to the military.

Given Google's decision not to renew its contract with the US, Bezos may have issued a warning that the Department of Defense's drone project with Google sparked criticism from its employees.

According to Gizmodo, which cited three sources, former Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision on what is known as Project Maven in 2018.

The initial contract, which is set to expire in 2019, was signed when the organization was more focused on military work, Greene reportedly said. But the decision not to renew was prompted by the employees' uproar.

Project Maven is an artificial intelligence application designed to identify and monitor objects seen on surveillance footage using information collected by government drones. Google staffs were worried about how, when under U.S. military control, the software could be protected.

Bezos' tone of voice is not so far off from Microsoft, which has defended its military contracts against workers who protested the use of their jobs for combat-related purposes. This indicates that in at least some bigger tech companies there will be little sympathy for opponents. These managers have strong goals and, irrespective of ethical concerns, expect their employees to follow through.

Amazon (AMZN.O) had been vying to provide the Pentagon with cloud computing capabilities. Amazon was also considered a favorite for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud (JEDI) contract, part of the Pentagon's wider digital upgrade project, before Microsoft's software developer emerged as the surprise winner.

Amazon has also said that a fair bidding process has been impeded by politics. Bezos, Amazon's chief executive, and also the owner of The Washington Post, is a very vocal critic of US President Donald Trump. This pre-empted a speculation that Bezos' tech giant of a company is perhaps getting 'ignored' due to the owner's political standpoint and biases. However, the opinion from netizens is almost the same as the sentiment of Amazon.

"Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias - and it's important that these matters be examined and rectified," Amazon wrote in a press release.

Because Silicon Valley wants a closer relationship with the Pentagon, tech firms have faced resistance to seek lucrative contracts with the Defense Department of the United States.

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