StratforLeaks: Google Ideas Director Involved in ‘Regime Change’

Top Google execs, including the company’s CEO and one of Barack
Obama’s major presidential campaign donors Eric Schmidt, informed the
intelligence agency Stratfor about Google’s activities and internal
communication regarding “regime change” in the Middle East, according to
Stratfor emails released by WikiLeaks and obtained by Al-Akhbar. The
other source cited was Google’s director for security and safety Marty
On the same day, Stratfor’s staff make reference to a Huffington Post
article which highlighted Cohen’s role in “delaying the scheduled
maintenance on Twitter so the Iranian revolution could keep going” and a
Foreign Policy article that noted that Cohen “was a Rhodes scholar,
spent time in Iran, [and] hung out in Iraq during the war…”. These
casual discovers further perked Stratfor’s curiosity about Cohen. (
The following day, Burton forwarded a message to the secure email
list from “a very good Google source” who claimed that Cohen “[was] off
to Gaza next week”. Burton added, “Cohen, a Jew, is bound to get himself
whacked….Google is not clear if Cohen is operating [with a] State Dept
[or] WH [White House] license, or [is] a hippie activist.”
Korena Zucha, another senior analyst on the list, queried, “Why
hasn’t Google cut ties to Cohen yet? Or is Cohen’s activity being
endorsed by those higher up in the [company] than your contact?”
In turn, Burton replied, “Cohen’s rabbi is Eric Schmidt and Obama
lackey. My source is trying to find out if the billionaire owners are
backing Cohen’s efforts for regime change.” (
Later on, Burton forwarded information from the “Google source” of Cohen’s links in establishing
The source added, “A site created to help online organization of groups
and individuals to move democracy in stubborn nations. Funded through
public-private partnerships.” Burton pointed out that the US State
Department is the organization’s public sponsor.” (
Indeed, the State Department, partnering with a number of
corporations, was the main sponsor for the 2008 inaugural Alliance of
Youth Movements summit in New York City that subsequently established Hillary Clinton endorsed the organization and presented a
video message during the second summit held in Mexico City a year
On 11 February, Burton wrote to the secure email list that Cohen was
still planning to head to Gaza. He added, “The dude is a loose can[n]on.
GOOGLE is trying to stop his entry into Gaza now because the dude is
like scorched earth. It’s unclear to GOOGLE if he’s driving without a
license, but GOOGLE believes he’s on a specific mission of “regime
change” on the part of leftist fools inside the WH who are using him for
their agendas.” (
Throughout this day, the idea proposed by Burton, and seemingly felt
by his Google contacts as well, of Cohen and the White House’s
involvement in the uprisings was actively discussed among the analysts,
especially in regards to who would be targeted next. (
By Monday, 14 February 2011, Burton shared intelligence with George
Friedman, Stratfor’s founder, and Scott Stewart, vice-president of
Stratfor’s tactical department, from his source in Google that Cohen was
ordered not to go to Gaza. Burton’s Google source further stated,
“Also, thinking I [the unnamed source] may be on the right track about
him despite his denials [in reference to Cohen working for the White
House/State Department].”
When asked to clarify his sources on Cohen, Burton claimed that they
were Marty Lev, Google’s director for security and safety, and Eric
Schmidt, the current CEO of Google. (
A week later, Burton forwarded an internal Google email obtained from
a ‘senior Google executive’. This email was seemingly sent by Cohen to
the senior Google executive to discuss Cohen’s planned trip in March.“GOOGLE are doing things the CIA cannot do."
In it, Cohen wrote, “I wanted to follow-up and get a sense of your
latest thinking on the proposed March trip to UAE, Azerbaijan, and
Turkey. The purpose of this trip is to exclusively engage the Iranian
community to better understand the challenges faced by Iranians as part
of one of our Google Ideas groups on repressive societies. Here is what
we are thinking: Drive to Azerbaijan/Iranian border and engage the
Iranian communities closer to the border (this is important because we
need the Azeri Iranian perspective).”
After reading Cohen’s email, Stewart remarked, “Cohen might end up
having an accident if he is not careful. This is not child’s play.”
Burton responded, “GOOGLE is getting WH [White House] and State Dept.
support and air cover. In reality, they are doing things the CIA cannot
do. But, I agree with you. He’s going to get himself kidnapped or
killed. Might be the best thing to happen to expose GOOGLE’s covert role
in foaming up-risings, to be blunt. The US Gov’t can then disavow
knowledge and GOOGLE is left holding the shit bag.” (
On 10 March 2011, Burton forwarded another message from his ‘senior
Google executive’ source detailing how Cohen was requested not to travel
on his proposed trip. The source explained that Google had concerns
over Cohen’s “baggage” as a “US State Dept. policy maker, his research
and publications on Muslim extremists and youth movements and his
presence in Egypt just as the uprising started.”The source also stated
that Cohen was recommended to “take a lower profile on this specific
trip and let time pass before being visible and associated with people
known by their states to be active in challenging repressive societies.”
A subsequent message from Burton’s source on 22 March 2011 affirmed
that Cohen “heeded the advice not to go to Turkey or UAE for those
meetings.” (
The final email dealing with Cohen was on 30 March 2011.

Here, Burton forwarded to the alpha (secure) email list a response by
his source to Burton’s question of whether Cohen was playing any role in
Libya at the time. The source stated, “Not that I’m aware of. He heeded
the advice to avoid Turkey and UAE and didn’t go on that trip.” (

Google Ideas: Politicizing Technology

Certainly, there is more than meets the eye to Cohen and his actions; even his superiors in Google seem to think so.

The belief, chiefly by Burton, that Cohen had seemingly played a role
in fermenting the uprisings that toppled Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and
Hosni Mubarak underplays, and at times entirely disregards, the ability
and agency by local movements in Tunisia and Egypt.
Nevertheless, Google Ideas, which Cohen directs, is a new animal. According to a
by the Financial Times published last July, Google Ideas seems to bond
idealistic activist sensibilities with Google’s pursuit for continued
global expansion - blurring the lines between business and political
action. Schmidt and Cohen dub Google Ideas as a “think/do-tank” that
aims to tackle political and diplomatic matters through the use of
The first public event for the think/do-tank, in partnership with the
Council on Foreign Relations and the Tribeca Film Festival, was held
last June in Dublin. It gathered around 80 ‘former’ extremists,
including former Muslim radicals, neo-Nazis, US gang members, and
others, in a “Summit Against Violent Extremism”. The
by Google declared that the summit’s aim is “to initiate a global
conversation on how best to prevent young people from becoming
radicalised and how to de-radicalise others” and that “the ideas
generated at the Dublin summit will be included in a study to be
published later in the year.”
One spin off was the creation of the
group, apparently a network for those who attended the Dublin Summit.
Beyond merely networking, the group also advertises certain projects
that are in need of funding. Notably, much of the projects pertain to
the Middle East, including an “Al-Awlaki Counter-Campaign” - Anwar
al-Awlaki, an American citizen of Yemeni origin, was assassinated in
September of last year by the US for his alleged al-Qaeda connections.
But the Against Violent Extremism site does not seem to be presently
active. The last update for projects in need of funding was made in
September and the last announcement regarding the workings of the site
was made in October.
More recently, Foreign Policy reported in January that the Brookings
Institute, one of the oldest and most influential think-tanks in
Washington, DC, named Google Ideas as “the
established in the last 18 months.” Such accolades arguably suggests
that Google Ideas is expected to be a major player in the near future.