On Thursday Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith of the U.S. Federal Claims Court ordered a temporary block on the Department of Defense’s (DOD) JEDI contract. Amazon was reportedly favored to win the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, which is worth up to $10 billion over a 10-year period, but lost out to Microsoft.
Amazon protested the award, arguing in the lawsuit that officials bowed to pressure from the White House, who Amazon claimed had often attacked the company and its owner Jeff Bezos.
Judge Campell-Smith agreed to Amazon’s demand, and ordered all activities around JEDI to cease. In addition, the judge ordered Amazon to set aside $42 million for “costs and damages” that could be incurred in the event the “injunction was issued wrongfully,” according to the filing.
Amazon must file a notice with the courts to indicate that it has the $42 million set aside by February 20, while both companies must respond to the filing by February 27.
Both the DoD and Microsoft, which has been staffing up in preparation to work on the JEDI project, have criticized the ruling.
“We are disappointed in today’s ruling and believe the actions taken in this litigation have unnecessarily delayed implementing DoD’s modernization strategy and deprived our warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need,” Department of Defense spokesperson Lt. Col. Robert Carver told CNBC. “However, we are confident in our award of the JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft and remain focused on getting this critical capability into the hands of our warfighters as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
Earlier in the week, unsealed documents revealed that Amazon would like to question the President, along with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, as well as Dana Deasy, the DoD’s chief information officer.
One issue is whether any U.S. military secrets could be exposed as a result of the case.
“The first thing not to forget is the primary concern that the DoD is taking down its compartmentalized network, and has made a huge leap of faith security-wise,” said Daniel P. Meyer, managing partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC.
The greater concern, Meyer told ClearanceJobs, was how this case could result in Chinese, Russian or other state actors gaining access to sensitive information following the discovery portion of the lawsuit. “Even if a document containing secrets isn’t admitted, those documents could still come out.”
This could come about due to the “mosaic theory,” which describes the basic precept of intelligence gathering where disparate items of information, though individually of limited or even no utility to their possessor, can take on added significance when combine with other items of information.
While the ruling by Campbell-Smith has put JEDI on hold, it isn’t clear where exactly this could be headed.
“This will go on its own pace,” said Meyer. “I agree with the critics that to protect the data the best thing is to start over.”