“Hi Keith,” an email from Google co-founder Sergey Brin begins. “General Keith…so great to see you!” reads an email from Google chairman Eric Schmidt to “General Keith,” the now former NSA director Keith Alexander. These exchanges, published Tuesday by Al-Jazeera, paint a picture of casual coziness with the NSA that is at odds with Google’s public image as a company exasperated by all the government’s recent attempts to pilfer user data and undermine Internet security.
If Google wasn’t cooperating with the National Security Agency’s spying program, as the company has vehemently claimed again and again, why were the guys in charge of each organization emailing so much in 2011 and 2012? That’s the question raised by a series of emails between then-NSA director Keith Alexander and Google chairman Eric Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin starting in late 2011. The emails were published by Al Jazeera America on Tuesday. The correspondence suggests a close relationship between the NSA and Google before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden ever leaked documents detailing the agency’s online spying efforts. One of the two email chains describe a meeting between the NSA director and Google executives near an airport in San Jose, Calif.