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Halikias: How the Pentagon’s $5 billion Amazon cloud deal undermines our cybersecurity

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Nearly a year into Donald J. Trump’s presidency, Obama-era appointees still occupy top Pentagon and State Department positions.

Dozens of these Obama holdovers, bent on undermining the work of the Trump administration, put forward suggestions that could have disastrous results.

Their most recent proposal – the idea to offer Amazon an exclusive $5 billion contract to act as the Department of Defense’s single cloud solution provider – would yoke the Pentagon to the tech giant–a decision that would decrease American competitiveness and could compromise our national cybersecurity.

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The Pentagon’s Cloud Executive Steering Group published a Request for Information, asking for industry advice on how to best acquire a modern enterprise cloud services solution that can support unclassified, secret and top secret information.

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The RFI reveals the DoD plans to acquire a single cloud service provider for all cloud computing infrastructure and platform services.

That’s a terrible idea.

Firstly, using one sole cloud services provider would decrease our rate of technological adaptation and innovation. With no challengers, Amazon would have little incentive to create novelty systems or even to improve marginally upon existing infrastructure.

In other words, the Department of Defense would lose any ability to negotiate with Amazon after granting it an exclusive $5 billion contract – a deal that would almost certainly be the most lucrative IT procurement in the history of the world. Naturally, this single-provider approach would put the United States at a technological disadvantage.

By contrast, with a traditional, multiple-reward indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity approach, the Pentagon would be able to attract more creative and diverse solutions from the commercial market. In this way, the Department of Defense’s multiple cloud service providers would be able to compete with one another to create more effective cybersecurity and data systems.

The CESG’s proposal should further worry Americans, as China has purchased Amazon’s cloud assets for $300 million. Earlier this year, Amazon capitulated to the Chinese government’s demand that customers comply with state censorship policies. The tech company has thus demonstrated that it is willing to compromise its standards in order to maintain a business relationship with the communist regime.

It is well known that the Chinese government is willing to hack American cybersecurity systems. In recent years, the U.S. government and private U.S. companies have identified dozens of instances of Chinese cyber espionage. By tying ourselves to a single cloud service provider with a record of submitting to the Chinese government, we would only make it easier for China to hack into the Department of Defense’s cyber systems.

In response to the Pentagon’s RFI, the Coalition for Government Procurement, a non-profit association of commercial contractors, put out a statement advising the DoD to consider multiple cloud solution providers “in the interest of our national security and to incentivize cloud innovation moving forward.”

If the idea is so bad, then where does it come from?

It should be no surprise that Obama acolytes would make such an inadvisable proposal. Many of these holdovers have personal business ties to the very tech areas on which they advise the Department of Defense – relationships that often constitute conflicts of interest.

This deal would the CESG’s proposal compromise the efficiency of our cybersecurity, hamstringing the Pentagon, but it would also put $5 billion dollars in the hands of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter. That is to say, the sole beneficiary of this contract has political motivation to undercut the United States government.

When assessing governmental proposals – even those that come from an executive branch department – defenders of national security must remain vigilant.

Amalia Halikias is a writer who covers issues of U.S. politics, cultural conservatism, law and technology.

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NEW: Joe Biden Bashes Incoming Trump Administration In Leaked 2016 Call to President of Ukraine

Completely inappropriate.

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Joe Biden speaks in critical and partisan terms of the incoming Trump administration in a new leaked call to the President of Ukraine unveiled Wednesday.

In the call, conducted in November 2016 a week after then-candidate Trump’s election victory, Biden bashes the incoming administration to the foreign leader, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Biden assails the Trump transition team as incompetent, turning down the idea of visiting the country before the January transition before Trump is “fully briefed” on matters related to Ukraine.

In a second call, Biden asks for Poroshenko to describe his conversations with incoming President Trump, going to to speak of Trump in more dismissive terms. He describes Trump as a “dog who caught the car, and who doesn’t know what to do.” Not quite a “dog-faced pony soldier,” but definitely not an appropriate way for an outgoing vice president to describe an incoming president to a foreign leader.

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A Ukrainian comedian originally released the calls, suggesting questionable operational security within the conversations of Joe Biden and Poroshenko. Biden has a lengthy history of ethical questions regarding his relationship with Ukraine, including looking the other way as his son Hunter secured an extremely lucrative position at a Ukrainian oil company without any experience whatsoever in the energy industry.

Biden himself would later go on to demand the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating corruption allegations against the younger Biden, a clear conflict of interest Biden merely dismissed when he spoke openly of securing the prosecutor’s firing at a Council on Foreign Relations public event.

This is a totally inappropriate way for a Vice President to speak to a foreign leader, and the public should be concerned about how Biden plans to conduct diplomacy should he be elected President.

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