Elon Musk is almost everywhere. When it’s not news about one of his multiple companies — Tesla , SpaceX, The Boring Company, Neuralink — he posts about politics, geopolitical affairs, or engages with his millions of followers on a variety of topics, ranging from his states of mind to metaphysical questions such as happiness. For two months, since April to be precise, he has monopolized the headlines with his ongoing acquisition of Twitter for $44 billion.
This takeover, which is supposed to be finalized by the end of October, has made him more political. It comes in the wake of his public support for Ukraine since it was invaded by Russia on February 24.
This media overexposure is not about to recede as Musk knows how to feed it. It’s all the more difficult to ignore him because the billionaire is one of the main reasons Tesla’s stock market valuation hit $1 trillion last fall.
He is not only the CEO of the electric vehicle manufacturer, but also the chief product officer, the chief marketing officer and above all the spokesperson. For those who doubt it, Tesla stock had a tough time when Musk shifted his time in April and May, talking mostly about his bid to buy Twitter. Investors were worried he will be distracted.
Musk’s importance to Tesla is equal to his importance to SpaceX. The rocket company is on a mission to take humans to live on Mars. This bold ambition is based on Musk’s vision.
The richest man in the world has decided to use his platform to alert his millions of followers to another problem that concerns him. He has just revived a new worry, that of spying on American citizens by the CIA, saying that he would be surprised if he was not being spied on.
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Musk Fears He’s Spied on
Musk tweeted a sort of meme with the logo, the name of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the following message:
“Does anyone else feel like their (sic) being watched?”
“You are,” responded tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, who is who is accused of netting millions from his Megaupload file-sharing service. “24/7 on all your devices and online services, including your own Starlink. In your case it’s not just mass surveillance. You are a priority target. Welcome to the club.”
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Which Musk confirmed by commenting on the post.
“I would be shocked if I’m not being spied on haha,” the billionaire said without saying which agency might be spying on him.
“My only ask is that anyone spying on me please not affect call quality too much or I can’t hear what’s being said!”
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Musk did not provide any evidence to support his claims, which some Twitter users pointed out to him.
“Prove it that it’s a bad thing! I dare you,” said one user.
The CIA did not respond to requests for comment from TheStreet.
New Accusations Against the CIA
It’s noteworthy that SpaceX has national security contracts, including the launch cargo for NASA, a secretive spy satellite for the intelligence community and national security payloads for the US military. Some of the mission might require Musk to have security clearance.
In February, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico raised alarms that the CIA is again spying on Americans.
They alleged, in a letter, that the Agency has a secret, undisclosed database of information collected on Americans. Although neither the agency nor lawmakers wanted to release details about that data, the two senators say the CIA had long hidden details of the program from the public and Congress.
Wyden and Heinrich, both democrats, called for more transparency from the CIA, including what kind of records were collected and the legal framework for the collection.
Information that the intelligence community gathers domestically has long raised concerns, not least because of past violations of Americans’ civil liberties. The CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) have a mission abroad and are generally prohibited from investigating Americans or American companies by the CIA’s 1947 charter.
But the collection of foreign communications by American spy agencies results in the collection of American messages and data.
In 2013, NSA contractor turned whistle-blower Edward Snowden disclosed to the public the existence of a program of data collection, known as PRISM, using extensive internet and phone surveillance by American intelligence.
It was ruled unlawful by a court.
Last year, a government watchdog disclosed two CIA data collection efforts. Wyden and Heinrich claimed in February that the agency is likely to be again subjecting Americans to warrantless searches.
The CIA released a declassified report on one of the program in February, but declined to declassify the other to protect “sensitive tradecraft methods and operational sources,” the agency said,
“What these documents demonstrate is that many of the same concerns that Americans have about their privacy and civil liberties also apply to how the CIA collects and handles information under executive order and outside the FISA law,” the two senators said in a press release. In the release they quoted the a letter sent to senior intelligence officials in April 2021.
“In particular, these documents reveal serious problems associated with warrantless backdoor searches of Americans, the same issue that has generated bipartisan concern in the FISA context.”
Wyden and Heinrich learned about this program because they’re members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. They urged top spy officials to declassify the details of this secret program.