DropBox Turns to Condi Rice to Help Protect Users’ Rights Overseas

On Wednesday, cloud server company DropBox named Condi Rice to its board, touting her brilliance and even her service as Secretary of State, but not her role as George Bush’s National Security Advisor during the period he rolled out his most abusive policies.

Finally, 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. 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.

The privacy community is predictably unimpressed by the involvement of someone so closely tied to civil liberties abuses.

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston didn’t mention the appointment during his keynote at a press event on Wednesday, but a day later, Rice’s arrival had eclipsed the rest of the company’s carefully crafted public event. Unsurprisingly, some people aren’t too happy about the move. Over on Hacker News, a leading barometer for what’s on the minds of tech geeks, the day’s most popular link connects toDropDropbox, a new site calling on users to boycott the company unless it removes Rice.

The campaign’s apparently anonymous creators are calling for her removal in part because of her support for the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, including claims that Rice herself authorized eavesdropping on UN Security Council members. “Why on earth would we want someone like her involved with Dropbox, an organization we are trusting with our most important business and personal data?” the site asks.

DropBox has now responded by claiming it takes someone with Condi’s international experience — experience which includes involvement in illegal wiretapping and torture — to protect the rights of DropBox’s hoped-for international customers.

We’re honored to have Dr. Rice join our board — she brings an incredible amount of experience and insight into international markets and the dynamics that define them. As we continue to expand into new countries, we need that type of insight to help us reach new users and defend their rights. [my emphasis]

I guess Condi’s involvement in harming the rights of so many people overseas makes her an expert on how to protect them?

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

28 replies
  1. der says:

    It’s Rice’s “no one could have ever predicted” view that would have me worried not only about her but that Dropbox’s Drew Houston had been asleep for the oughts. Having a hand in destroying 2 nations and part of the Deciders team that led to a million deaths what did she get right? The standard of leadership remains: incompetency fails upward and not to be mentioned among the ruling elites, so gauche.

  2. Saul Tannenbaum says:

    What der said.

    Put aside her ideology for a moment and just consider her competence, in particular, ignoring all the warnings from the intelligence community prior to 9/11.

    Just how bad a National Security Advisor do you have to be to lose your reputation for competence?

    • P J Evans says:

      As far as I know, her expertise is the former Soviet Union. Not security, not software, not anything that would be expected to be useful in business. Unless they like her former political connections – and if I were a company like Dropbox, those are among the last people I’d want to be associated with.

  3. FreddyMoraca says:

    And in other top stories in the Annals of Unimpeachable Expertise, G.W. Bush has graciously accepted to take over the Dan Quayle chairmanship of the National Spelling Bee.

  4. Arbusto says:

    I’m curious what Houston thinks Condi really brings to the board, other than a lot of baggage (having met her level of incompetence a decade ago) and the PR line Houston states.

  5. bloopie2 says:

    So the NSA now denies knowing about Heartbleed before the public knew about it. Well, guess what, guys? You lied to us for years and years, and nobody believes you any more. If there’s two sides to a story, we will all believe the one that casts you as the bad guy.

    You blew it.

  6. phred says:

    Another graduate of the Larry Summers’ School of Success! Huzzah.

    I hear Alexander has time on his hands, maybe DropBox will pick him up, too…

  7. orionATL says:

    a little voice told me that dropbox is an organization fronted by the nsa/cia/fbi.

    in that context, the “appointment” of noted torture monger condoleeza rice is perfectly understandable as a signal of continuity and fellowship between the obama and bush administrations.

  8. orionATL says:

    miss wiki reports of drop box:

    “..On April 9, 2014, Dropbox announced that Condoleezza Rice would be joining their board of directors.[27] , prompting protests from some users who were concerned about her appointment (source BBC News, 11 April 2014) Rice is a director of Rice Hadley Gates LLC which has provided consultancy to Dropbox. (source Bloomberg Business Week, April 09, 2014) The board also includes Stephen Hadley[Hadley],former US national security adviser, and former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates[Gates]…”

    condoleeza rice and stephen hadley and robert gates – that team should make anyone feel secure, right?

  9. pdaly says:

    Hacker News should have paraphrased Condi herself in castigating DropBox for naming Rice to the DropBox Board of Directors: “Do your homework, DropBox!”

  10. orionATL says:

    learn again about what you’d forgotten about condoleeza rice, stephen hadley and “the vulcans”. **

    ** i consider nieberlungen more apt than vulcans.

  11. EH says:

    Perhaps DB is a front, who knows, but it does seem weird that they would ask Rice for help in expanding their business overseas rather than someone who has worked at, oh, Nike, or Coca-Cola, or any of the other companies who have been insanely successful selling in other countries.

    • Strangely Enough says:

      Well, she did work for Chevron, and they certainly know how to make a killing overseas…

      • orionATL says:

        and here’s that story (according to miss wiki):

        “..Because she would have been ineligible for tenure at Stanford if she had been absent for more than two years, she returned there in 1991. She was taken under the wing of George P. Shultz (Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State from 1982–1989), who was a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Shultz included Rice in a “luncheon club” of intellectuals who met every few weeks to discuss foreign affairs.[21] In 1992, Shultz, who was a board member of Chevron Corporation, recommended Rice for a spot on the Chevron board. Chevron was pursuing a $10 billion development project in Kazakhstan and, as a Soviet specialist, Rice knew the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. She traveled to Kazakhstan on Chevron’s behalf and, in honor of her work, in 1993, Chevron named a 129,000-ton supertanker SS Condoleezza Rice.[21] During this period, Rice was also appointed to the boards of Transamerica Corporation (1991) and Hewlett-Packard (1992)…”

        remember, boys and girls, it ain’t how well you play the piano that counts in life, it’s who you know. **

        **by happenstance rice became provost of stanford in 1993

  12. thatvisionthing says:

    Thank YOU. But… I get easily confused. Shultz is on board of grateful Chevron that names ship after Condoleeza Rice because of her xlnt Kazakhstan grease job. (ew, can I?) But why would Chevron name a ship after Shultz? Chevron Chevron. Of course it helps US know that our Sec of State (pick one, any one) is Chevron. SOS Chevron.

  13. Snoopdido says:

    This is off topic, but some of the journalists in the mass media suspected that the US government would take Glenn Greenwald into custody upon his arrival in the US, therefore their presence at the airport waiting for a story.
    .
    I didn’t take that supposition very seriously. The US government would ignite a media firestorm, and they aren’t quite that stupid.
    .
    I do however, wonder if something is planned by the US government for Glenn’s attempted departure from the US. I’m not saying he would be arrested, but perhaps detained and questioned for a period of time before the US ultimately lets him depart for Rio.
    .
    My rationale is that whatever else the US government wants to do, they certainly want to intimidate Glenn if at all possible and increase any paranoia he might have about being under the US government’s microscope.
    .
    In the end, I can’t believe that the US government won’t try to make its umbrage felt. It would be out of character if they didn’t.

    • P J Evans says:

      I guess we can hope that a whole lot of reporters go to the airport with him to see him leave, and some of them should have tickets on the same flight.

  14. funonymous says:

    I would love to hear the back story to how this went down, perhaps it would shed light on the elite wingnut welfare network.

  15. chronicle says:

    Dropbox. Perfect NSA euphemism. Who needs secret spying when the Worlds Dumbest will drop everything right into NSA’s lap.

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