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Google’s Relationship with Government Agencies Questioned by Senator Charles Grassley


WASHINGTON, DC – The relationship between search engine giant, Google, and agencies of the federal government is under the spotlight again. First it was Google’s partnership with the National Security Agency and now with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking if Google hasn’t received some kind of a sweetheart deal in its lease of an airfield in California. In question is Google’s deal to house a fleet of its aircraft at California’s Moffett Airfield operated by NASA.

Several large Boeing jets and a fleet of other jets and helicopters belonging to Google founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin under the name of the holding company H211 are being kept there at a lease rate of $3.7 million.

Private aircraft are often allowed to use the government-owned facilities of NASA, but only if they are being used for scientific missions. However, the NBC affiliate in San Diego reports that Google’s six planes flew only 52 scientific missions from 2007 through 2011. Considering those aircraft made a total of 1,039 fights during that period, Google’s scientific missions amounted to only 5% of their total use.

Grassley wants to know who negotiated the lease and how the $3.7 million per year figure was arrived at, asking: “Does that represent a fair market rate for the lease?” He also is seeking to confirm or disprove allegations that the Google aircraft owners have been purchasing jet fuel from the airfield at a discounted price “well below the market rate due to its tax treatment.”

Grassley is also seeking answers as to how many planes at the field are owned by Google, what kind of planes they are, arrangements for fueling the aircraft, and all contracts and other documents that define the arrangement. The senator wants to view flight plans and passenger manifests for all of the Google-owned planes at the airfield.

Google has come into the spotlight for its relationships with the NSA in investigating cyber-attacks on Chinese human rights activists conducted through their Gmail accounts. Google was found to be teaming up with the NSA to collect data on users and analyze the cyber-attack under the guise of preventing another in the future.

A U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia ruled last week that the NSA does not need to confirm nor deny (known as a “Glomar” response) its collaborations with Google or how the two work together to spy on American citizens in the name of protecting the public from false flag “cyber-attacks”.

Grassley expects a response from NASA by May 25.

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