Bokhari: The ‘Defense Innovation Board’ May Just Be a Google Lobbying Operation

Rob Kim/Getty Images
Rob Kim/Getty Images

Despite its long track record of hostility to the Trump movement, including the wholesale suppression of pro-Trump media in its search engine, Google is on track to secure a major lobbying objective — overhauling the government’s 5G strategy. Google seems to have an ally in reaching its target in the form of the Department of Defense’s “Defense Innovation Board.”

In 2016, Obama’s Department of Defense created a “Defense Innovation Board” (DIB) chaired by then Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt and also included Milo Medin, Google’s head of Wireless, who is still on it. Schmidt only left the board this month due to term limits.

In addition to including members from the high ranks of Google, the revolving door at the Defense Innovation Board also rotates in the opposite direction.

In March this year, DIB Executive Director Josh Marcuse left the board to join Google as the head of strategy and innovation for the global public sector. He has since used his position at Google to advocate on 5G policy.

The overhaul of U.S. strategy on 5G appears to be a major objective of the DIB, especially its Google-linked members and alumni. Over the last few years, Medin and Schmidt have been advocating opening up the Defense Spectrum, worth billions and billions of dollars, for commercial use.

In 2019, Medin authored a report recommending a new 5G strategy that would share the DoD’s mid-band spectrum with commercial providers.

In June 2020, the Government Accountability Office released a report entitled “5G Deployment: FCC Needs Comprehensive Strategic Planning to Guide its Efforts.” Experts consulted during the drafting included Milo Medin, as well as Google-funded organizations including Public Knowledge, the Consumer Federation of America, and Next Century Cities.

Fast-forward to September of this year: top Republican operative Karl Rove gave the keynote presentation at a tech conference, calling for a national 5G strategy along the lines of Google’s proposals. Rove acknowledged working directly with Eric Schmidt, Newt Gingrich and “other vendors from the private sector.”

“We’ve got to beat the Chinese,” Rove said. In return for getting access to shared government airwaves, he said, the private sector would commit to building a nationwide 5G network.”

Rove told the conference separately that he’s spoken with Schmidt and others including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, “very liberal” House lawmakers, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Dell Technologies.

Eric Schmidt spoke at the same conference.

“We’re definitely playing catch-up…. It’s a national emergency,” said Schmidt. “The solution is to act quickly.”

“I like this notion of sharing the military spectrum. …Use some form of wholesale model that would use private-sector money to build out the network very quickly.”

A day after the conference, Eric Schmidt testified before the House Armed Services Intelligence Subcommittee.

Following the hearing, sources reported that Schmidt personally met with Senator Warner and other members to advocate for a 5G network using the DoD’s Naval spectrum.

The years-long lobbying operation appeared to pay off. On September 18, the Department of Defense issued a request for information (RFI) on defense spectrum sharing that closely mirrored Milo Medin’s 2019 report for the DIB.

“Google stands to benefit” from the new strategy, said a former FCC official who spoke to Breitbart News. “As the ultimate tech giant with an army of lobbyists at their disposal, they are uniquely situated to make a sweetheart deal with the DoD, and then turn around and control the network.”

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal wrote about Google’s attempt to open up military spectrum.

The article noted that “The idea originated with a 2012 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Among the more than two-dozen authors were Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and [Preston] Marshall, a former DARPA researcher now employed by Google. Mr. Medin.”

It further noted. “Since early 2013, more than any other company, Google has lobbied the Federal Communications Commission” to open up the spectrum. Now using Medin and Schmidt in key positions, Google is closer than ever to getting its wishes.

Schmidt and Medin have used the threat of China as a tool to lobby for the 5G strategy overhaul, despite their own company’s checkered track record on China. In 2017, Google opened an artificial intelligence laboratory in China, saying “science has no borders.” In 2018, it entered into a partnership with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, now subject to U.S. sanctions over security concerns.

Schmidt and Medin were also able to retain their positions on the Defense Advisory Board, despite their own company’s refusal to work with the U.S. military in Project Maven, a program to develop AI for use in military drones.’

In 2019, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, appointed Schmidt to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI). Following this, Defense Secretary James Mattis also appointed Google Cloud AI head Andrew Moore to the commission.

And Schmidt retained his influential advisory post under the Trump administration, despite the fact that Schmidt worked overtime to elect Hillary Clinton in 2016 (even attending her election night party in New York City  wearing a
“staff” badge), and the fact that Google is censoring pro-Trump media ahead of the 2020 election.

Last year, Trump tweeted “Billionaire Tech Investor Peter Thiel believes Google should be investigated for treason. He accuses Google of working with the Chinese Government.”@foxandfriends A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!”

Yet even as the President raised these concerns, Swamp creatures like Gen. Mattis and so-called Republicans like Rep. Thornberry were putting Google executives in key policy advisory positions. Much like the internet itself, Google’s influence in the D.C. swamp seems impossible to escape.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. His new book, #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election, which contains exclusive interviews with sources inside Google, Facebook, and other tech companies, is currently available for purchase. 

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