Google accused of CIA ties

Robert David Steele, a former clandestine services case officer for the CIA, has accused search behemoth Google of being in bed with the intelligence agency and government departments. Steele aired these views on Alex Jones's nationally syndicated radio show, according to reports.

"I think that Google has made a very important strategic mistake in dealing with the secret elements of the U.S. government -- that is a huge mistake and I'm hoping they'll work their way out of it and basically cut that relationship off," Steele said, claiming to have confirmed his allegation with his ties in the CIA.

He also said that "Google was a little hypocritical when they were refusing to honor a Department of Justice request for information because they were heavily in bed with the Central Intelligence Agency, the office of research and development."

An MP3 recording of the Steele interview is available to Prison subscribers.

In addition to working for the CIA, Steele is a former Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer for twenty years and was the second-ranking civilian in U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence from 1988 to 1992. He's also the founder and CEO of OSS.Net, an organization committed to furthering international understanding of the importance of open source intelligence.

This isn't the first time Steele, or anyone else for that matter, has suggested ties between Google and the government. A Web site called reported in January:

"Google's alleged secret relationship with the U.S. intelligence community (IC) was divulged by an IT contractor and confirmed by U.S. intelligence authorities familiar with the matter during the OSS.Net IOP conference near Washington, DC. The contractor, who spoke on a not-for-attribution basis, said that at least one U.S. intelligence agency he declined to identify is working to 'leverage Google's [user] data monitoring' capability as part of an effort by the IC to glean from this data information of 'national security intelligence interest' in the war on terror."

Of course, none of these allegations have yet to be proven, and the fact that the aforementioned report came from an unnamed source at a conference sponsored by Steele's own company adds a few grains of salt to the story.

Still, given the power Google wields with its data-mining abilities, it's interesting -- and perhaps unsettling -- to contemplate the implications of ties with intelligence organizations.

What do you think? Is this simply baseless fodder for conspiracy theorists, or something that warrants deeper investigation?