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Amazon to block Microsoft from working on $10bn 'war cloud' contract

Tom Hoggins
Amazon has claimed President Trump interfered in the JEDI contract process due to his public feud with CEO Jeff Bezos - AFP

Amazonwill ask a US federal judge to temporarily block Microsoft from working on a $10bn cloud computing contract for the US military, according to a court filing in Washington.

Amazon Web Services, the Seattle giant’s cloud computing arm, intends to “file a motion for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction to prevent the issuance of substantive task orders under the contract.”

It is the latest twist in the bitter battle over the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract, which is set to modernise the US military's aging IT. The contract was awarded to Microsoft in October 2019 despite Amazon being considered the clear front-runner. 

Amazon is challenging the validity of the contract being awarded to Microsoft in an appeal filed late last year, in which AWS claimed “unmistakable bias” in the process.

Amazon blamed “improper direct intervention” by Donald Trump, claiming that AWS’s loss of the contract was due to the US President’s well-publicised dislike of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon claimed there were “egregious errors” in the JEDI process and that President Trump launched “repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks” to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS to “harm his perceived political enemy—Jeffrey P. Bezos”.

A speechwriter for former Defense secretary General John Mattis alleges that Trump personally asked Mattis to "screw Amazon" out of the contract.

US defense secretary Mark Esper rejected any suggestions of bias in the awarding of the contract, saying: “I am confident it was conducted freely and fairly, without any type of outside influence,” 

The latest filing for an injunction intends to stop Microsoft performing any substantial work on JEDI, which was expected to begin on 11 February, until the outcome of Amazon’s appeal is known. 

Amazon intends to file its formal request to stop the work on 24 January and both Microsoft and the US Department of Defence intend to file partial dismissals.

It is expected that Amazon’s motion will be challenged on the grounds that it should have been filed earlier. AWS, Microsoft and the DoD have agreed to an expedited schedule for the decision that will see the court issues its decision on the injunction by that 11 February deadline.

“The United States and Microsoft note that, in agreeing to the above schedule for briefing of AWS’s intended motion for temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction, they expressly reserve their right to object to the timeliness of AWS’s proposed motion,” the court filing read.