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There Will Be Blood

June 24, 2011

Declan McCullagh reports from the front lines of the Google wars:

It was inevitable that Google, one of the world’s largest technology companies, would find itself in the crosshairs of the Washington antitrust establishment. But what is, or should be, a little surprising is how enthusiastic the establishment became about pulling the trigger.

Take an event I moderated last week in the U.S. Capitol building … In theory, members of Congress and their staff carefully craft public policies that encourage the development of new technologies and benefit the entire nation.

But the reality of the questions asked was less Schoolhouse Rock and more jockeying over who gets to be on the firing squad at a corporate execution. One staffer on the Senate antitrust committee offered this complaint, which I’m not making up: “Nobody on the panel talked about innovation and that being a potential harm to consumers.”

McCullagh notes one of the leading Senate antagonists towards Google is Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl. And as luck would have it, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz spent the bulk of his career as an aide to Kohl. Indeed, it was Kohl who helped engineer Leibowitz’s appointment to the Commission during the Bush administration.

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