Condoleezza Rice named to Dropbox board, Internet activists call for her resignation based on a frenzy of misinformation

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Popular cloud storage and sync service Dropbox announced late Wednesday that former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice will join their board of directors — less than 24 hours later, activists across the Internet demanded the company drop her before they drop the box.

“..We’re proud to welcome Dr. Condoleezza Rice to our Board of Directors. When looking to grow our board, we sought out a leader who could help us expand our global footprint,” Dropbox said in a statement Wednesday. “Dr. Rice has had an illustrious career as Provost of Stanford University, board member of companies like Hewlett Packard and Charles Schwab, and former United States Secretary of State. We’re honored to be adding someone as brilliant and accomplished as Dr. Rice to our team.”

A petition and website dedicated to the cause has already been established, which details a list of ‘deeply disturbing’ decisions made during her tenure in the George W. Bush administration.

“Tell Drew Houston [Dropbox CEO]: unless you remove Condoleezza Rice from the Dropbox Board, I, and/or my organization, will stop using Dropbox and move to an alternative cloud storage provider,” the site reads.

Visitors are then encouraged to post to Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag ‘DropDropbox,’ and even to use alternative cloud storage services like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive (ironic, given the recent disclosures by the National Security Agency that Google and Microsoft were among the major Silicon Vally companies complicit in the PRISM bulk surveillance program of internet data).

While the list includes viable criticisms of decisions made during Rice’s tenure at the White House — including the alleged evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, approval of extreme interrogation techniques and establishment of ‘black site’ overseas prisons (none of which are new) — it isn’t made clear how any of these issues relate directly back to Rice, nor how they would influence her managerial position over a popular online data storage service.

In fact, activists’ chief concern — the warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ phone and Internet data that began under the Bush administration — had little to do with Rice at all, as journalists from the New York Times and Washington Post have indicated in numerous reports and books since the partial disclosure of the programs in 2005.

Rice neither created nor oversaw the warrantless wiretapping programs, which were initially developed by key players in Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office including David Addington, and justified by Cheney contacts in the Justice Department such as John Woo. The program was routinely authorized by chief White House Counsel Alberto Gozales and Attorney General John Ashcroft. Rice was not even among the first of top-level appointees to be read into the program, was was designated on a strict need-to-know basis.

Then-NSA Director Michael Hayden, FBI Director Robert Mueller and Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet oversaw the active use of the programs and the data gathered from them within their respective agencies.

Rice’s chief interaction with the programs as national security advisor was to brief the president on the intelligence gathered by the programs and weigh in on domestic and foreign policy decisions relevant to national security — not to oversee the collection of the data itself.

As National Security Advisor, Rice was actually one of the very few officials within the White House that encouraged President George W. Bush to listen to the concerns over the program’s legality raised by acting Attorney General James Comey, which subsequently led to a major overhaul of the program’s capabilities, and transferred authorization and justification to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (see “Angler” by Barton Gellman).

The site does, however, smartly point out Rice’s obvious appeal to Dropbox by describing her as an “extremely brilliant and accomplished individual,” and “well-connected,” even making mention of Rice attaining her master’s degree at age 20. is far from the only source of criticism — organizations, outlets and individuals across the Web have been joining the frenzy, all of whom cite the warrantless wiretapping program as their primary concern over the future privacy and security of Dropbox.

In reality, the company is on the verge of making its initial public offering, and recruited a high-profile name with experience — not someone bent on green-lighting public surveillance of private data, which neither the government nor Dropbox needs Condoleezza Rice to facilitate.

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