Spying on Elon Musk?

Spying on Elon Musk?

Elon Musk hardly needs an introduction these days, but here goes. He’s the richest man in the world, has a droll sense of humor, is a naturalized US citizen (born in South Africa) and has 7 children.

Founder of blazing-into-the-future companies Tesla and SpaceX, on 30 May Musk tweeted he felt as if he was being watched, and cleverly implied that the Central Intelligence Agency was responsible.


Elon Musk tweet 30 May

Twitter Related?

Musk’s plans to buy Twitter have sparked a huge online controversy. To quote CNN, Musk believes Twitter should be a “digital town square that abides by free-speech principles. Musk’s main critique about Twitter today is that it is too restrictive. Under his ownership, Musk has suggested, Twitter would treat content more permissively, pivoting away from content removals and account bans. He has also proposed opening up Twitter’s algorithm to public review so that, in theory, users could understand how it makes decisions . . . a kind of referendum on the future of online speech.” https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/26/tech/importance-of-musk-buying-twitter/index.html

Elon Musk freeing Twitter bird

The possible purchase has become highly politicized, fueled in part by the Biden administration’s announcement of a Disinformation Governance Board mere days after Musk’s bid to buy Twitter. Hardly a coincidence and gasoline on the already raging online fire, the Board was shuttered after only 3 weeks amid discussion of its legality. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jillgoldenziel/2022/05/18/the-disinformation-governance-board-is-dead-heres-the-right-way-to-fight-disinformation/ 

FYI: Personally I think Twitter has become a toxic stew. I maintain an account but am rarely on the platform.

The CIA angle

As a 30-year veteran of the CIA, and occasional talking head about the Agency, I’m concerned about the notion of the CIA “watching” a US citizen, especially if this has anything to do with the current presidential administration’s obvious opposition to Musk’s Twitter purchase.

The Agency’s legal mandate expressly forbids it from participation in US policy or targeting Americans. The latter responsibility belongs to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Codified in the National Security Act of 1947, the Agency’s mission is no secret.

“To stop threats before they happen and further U.S. national security objectives, we:

  • Collect foreign intelligence;
  • Produce objective analysis; and
  • Conduct covert action, as directed by the president.

We do not make policy or policy recommendations. Instead, our Agency serves as an independent source of information for people who do. We are not a law enforcement organization.”


Related: My CIA Career: Glutinous but not Unflavorful

Two Rules

When I joined the CIA as an all-source foreign intelligence analyst during the second Reagan administration, it was drummed into our heads that analysis was independent of policy. Over and over, we were warned about “clientelitis:” massaging intelligence analysis conclusions to align with the views of the client, i.e. the policymaker it was intended for. Just like the CIA website says: an independent source of information for people who do.

Related: Inside my CIA Career: The Analytic Puzzle

Carmen receiving CIM, 2016

With my Career Intelligence Medal on the Great Seal, shortly before Christmas 2016

Later, as an intelligence collector, the legal structure ensuing that collection stayed true to the CIA’s foreign intelligence mission was inviolable. Specifically targeting an American citizen was unthinkable and there were multiple layers of oversight to ensure it did not happen. Were there lapses? Not on my watch, not in offices I managed.

If either of these two guiding rules at the CIA are no longer enforced, there is trouble ahead.

Carmen Amato is the author of the Detective Emilia Cruz police series set in Acapulco and the upcoming Galliano Club historical thrillers. A 30-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, her personal experiences occasionally make their way into her fiction.

Want to know more? Follow me on Facebook or get Mystery Ahead updates in your email inbox every other Sunday.

10 Twitter Voices on Mexico and the Mystery Series that is Listening

Twitter Voices on Mexico

Twitter logoInspiration for the Emilia Cruz mystery series’ sharp edges and complicated plot lines comes from two sources: my own experiences living in Mexico and Central America, and the authentic and multi-faceted stories about Mexico told by some of today’s most articulate voices trending on Twitter.

Here are 10 “Tweeps” I routinely read to get up-to-date information about Mexico. They’re a mix of cultural observers, expatriates, journalists, and writers. Their viewpoints don’t always coincide and they may have differing agendas when it comes to Mexico, but their Twitter trending content is always interesting and thought-provoking.

@AllAboutPuebla  Rebecca Smith Hurd writes the All About Puebla blog; a happy compendium of life, art, culture, and events in and around Mexico’s 4th largest city. Incidentally, Puebla is the hometown of protagonist Eduardo Cortez Castillo in THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY.

@MexicoInstitute  The Mexico Institute is part of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a nonpartisan, non-advocacy forum engaged in the study of national and world affairs. Tweets link back to articles on the Institute’s website which deal relations between the US and Mexico and events and issues which impact them.

 @ajcorchado  Alfredo Corchado is the Mexico Bureau Chief for The Dallas Morning News and a Harvard Nieman Fellow. His memoir, MIDNIGHT IN MEXICO, was released earlier this year.

@AndrewChesnut1  Andrew Chesnut is a professor of Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and writes extensively on the Santa Muerte phenomenon for Huffington Post and other current events outlets. He explores Santa Muerte and more on the site skeletonsaint.com.

@shannonkoneil  Shannon K. O’Neil is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of TWO NATIONS INDIVISIBLE about the US and Mexico. Her tweets and retweets focus on strategic views of what is happening in Mexico and with the bilateral relationship.

@el_reportero  David Agren is a Canadian freelance journalist in Mexico City whose reporting has appeared in USA TODAY, Catholic News Service and Maclean’s magazine. He is on top of numerous issues and is a prolific tweeter, managing to get loads of information—such as voting results–and local flavor into 140 characters.

@foxnewslatino  Fox takes a neutral tone when reporting on many issues about and affecting Mexico. Tweets all link back to the Fox News Latino news site and besides regional reporting include broad-based current events i.e. flavor of the day.

@MexicoRetold  Susannah Rigg is a British freelance writer based in picturesque Oaxaca who uses the tagline “There’s more to Mexico than Meets the Media.” She is very active on Twitter discussing cultural issues and promotes the hashtag #fortheloveofmexico.

@mexicoguide  Suzanne Barbezat is a travel writer living in Oaxaca who is the host of the Mexico Travel sub-site for the About.com news channel. She is a #MexChat co-host, which brings those interested in Mexico together for moderated twitter discussions.

@TheMexLondoner  The Mexican Londoner offers a totally unique take on Mexico—one that is seen from a distance and flavored by life in the UK. The Twitter stream is a mix of interesting news retweets, events in London with a Mexican flavor, and a bilingual newsletter for Mexicans living in London.

Author Carmen Amato

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