By Kit Klarenberg, an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions.
Famously unenthusiastic about organized labor in the workplace, Amazon has made a number of hires recently from the FBI that suggest it is keen to keep a very close eye on what its employees are up to.
Investigative outlet the Intercept has drawn attention to Amazon ramping up employment of former US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operatives to its global security center in Goodyear, Arizona.
A cursory search of the company’s employees via its official LinkedIn page shows 126 users mention Amazon and the agency in their profiles, and at least 20 FBI veterans were hired between 2017 and 2020 alone.
That the e-commerce giant has enlisted their services is hardly surprising, and neither is it exceptional. Companies small and large in many industries actively seek out and benefit from the experience of seasoned security services professionals.
However, this recruitment drive takes on a deeply disquieting dimension when one considers some of the hires could be used for the purposes of gathering intelligence on Amazon employees, particularly those involved in attempted labor organization and disrupting and preventing trade union activism.
The Intercept drew particular attention to two senior Amazon staffers, whose FBI histories –which both span around 24 years – strongly suggest they would be adept at such activities.
Cindy Wetzstein joined the company as Senior Intelligence Analyst in October 2020 straight from the Bureau, where she most recently led a “squad” of personnel researching, analyzing and mitigating national security threats, and supervised “collection, collation, manipulation and organization of data from multiple sources by intelligence personnel.”
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Her LinkedIn profile was temporarily deleted following publication of the Intercept article, and since its reinstatement has been amended to remove a reference to her expertise in “tactical and strategic intelligence production,” originally quoted by the outlet. Nonetheless, the online resumé continued to boast that she maintains “Top Secret Security Clearance” before being made private.
The profile of Brian Brooks,