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KIRAN STACEY: Within the next few weeks, we will find out whether Amazon or Microsoft has one of the most sensitive contracts the Pentagon has ever handed out. The US Department of Defence is about to give one of those two companies $10 billion over 10 years to build it a new cloud computing network, which will handle some of its most secure data sets and enable communication among its armed forces around the world.
But there is a problem. With just weeks to go until an announcement was planned, President Trump intervened saying that he had heard complaints about the tampering process from some of America's great companies. Some believe that the president is not too happy about the prospect of the US government handing a massive contract to Amazon whose founder, Jeff Bezos, also owns "The Washington Post" and has been a frequent target of the president's attacks.
Just a few days later, Mark Esper, the new Secretary of Defence, announced he was going to conduct another last minute review into the process. But it's not clear what the Defence Secretary is actually looking for. Neither Amazon nor Microsoft has been contacted by the Defence Department as part of that review, let alone asked for any additional information.
So what is Mr Esper about up to? The DOD says that he is undertaking an educational exercise. But others point out that he has been acting Defence Secretary since June and is hardly likely to need much more new information into the process. Instead, many believe that what Mr Esper Is doing is trying to pave the way for a possible decision to hand the contract to Amazon. He's looking for political cover. Whether he gets it or not is unclear, but if that is the case I suspect Amazon will take this as a good sign.