Alan MacLeod Big Tech Military

Elon Musk Is Not a Renegade Outsider—He’s a Massive Pentagon Contractor

By Alan MacLeod / MintPress News

AUSTIN, TEXAS – Elon Musk’s proposed takeover of Twitter has ruffled many feathers among professional commentators. “Musk is the wrong leader for Twitter’s vital mission,” read one Bloomberg headline. The network also insisted, “Nothing in the Tesla CEO’s track record suggests he will be a careful steward of an important media property.” “Elon Musk is the last person who should take over Twitter,” wrote Max Boot in The Washington Post, explaining that “[h]e seems to believe that on social media anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less.” The irony of outlets owned by Michael Bloomberg and Jeff Bezos warning of the dangers of permitting a billionaire oligarch to control our media was barely commented upon.

Added to this, a host of celebrities publicly left the social media platform in protest against the proposed $44 billion purchase. This only seemed to confirm to many free speech-minded individuals that the South African billionaire was a renegade outsider on a mission to save the internet from authoritarian elite control (despite the fact that he is borrowing money from the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia in order to do so).

Musk has deliberately cultivated this image of himself: a real life Tony Stark figure who thinks for himself and is not part of the established order. But behind this carefully constructed façade, Musk is intimately connected to the U.S. national security state, serving as one of its most important business partners. Elon, in short, is no threat to the powerful, entrenched elite: he is one of them.

TO UKRAINE, WITH LOVE

Musk, whose estimated $230 billion fortune is more than twice the gross domestic product of Ukraine, has garnered a great deal of positive publicity for donating thousands of Starlink terminals to the country, helping its people come back online after fighting downed the internet in much of the country. Starlink is an internet service allowing those with terminals to connect to one of over 2,400 small satellites in low Earth orbit. Many of these satellites were launched by Musk’s SpaceX technologies company.

However, it soon transpired that there is far more than meets the eye with Musk’s extraordinary “donation.” In fact, the U.S. government quietly paid SpaceX top dollar to send their inventory to the warzone. USAID – a government anti-insurgency agency that has regularly functioned as a regime-change organization – is known to have put up the cash to purchase and deliver at least 1,330 of the terminals.

Starlink is not a mass-market solution. Each terminal – which is, in effect, a tiny, portable satellite dish – has a markedly limited range, and is useful only in hyper-local situations. Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, estimated that the 10,000 Starlink terminals were allowing around 150,000 people to stay online.

Such a small number of people using the devices raises eyebrows. Who is important enough to be given such a device? Surely only high-value individuals such as spies or military operatives. That the Starlinks are serving a military purpose is now beyond clear. Indeed, in a matter of weeks, Starlink has become a cornerstone of the Ukrainian military, allowing it to continue to target Russian forces via drones and other high-tech machinery dependent on an internet connection. One official told The Times of London that he “must” use Starlink to target enemy forces via thermal imaging.

“Starlink is what changed the war in Ukraine’s favor. Russia went out of its way to blow up all our comms. Now they can’t. Starlink works under Katyusha fire, under artillery fire. It even works in Mariupol,” one Ukrainian soldier told journalist David Patrikarakos.

The reference to Mariupol alludes to the infamous Nazi group, the Azov Battalion, who have also reportedly been using Musk’s technology. Even in a subterranean cavern beneath Mariupol’s steelworks, Azov fighters were able to access the internet and communicate with the outside world, even doing video interviews from underground. In 2015, Congress attempted to add a provision to U.S. military aid to Ukraine stipulating that no support could go to Azov owing to their political ideology. That amendment was later removed at the behest of the Pentagon.

Dave Tremper, Director of Electronic Warfare at the Pentagon, sang SpaceX’s praises. “How they did that [keeping Ukrainian forces online] was eye-watering to me,” he said, adding that in the future the U.S. military “needs to be able to have that agility.”

ROCKETMAN

Such a statement is bound to get the attention of SpaceX chiefs, who have long profited from their lucrative relationship with the U.S. military. SpaceX relies largely on government contracts, there being almost no civilian demand for many of its products, especially its rocket launches.

Musk’s company has been awarded billions of dollars in contracts to launch spy satellites for espionage, drone warfare and other military uses. For example, in 2018, SpaceX was chosen to blast a $500 million Lockheed Martin GPS system into orbit. While Air Force spokesmen played up the civilian benefits of the launch, such as increased accuracy for GPS devices, it is clear that these devices play a key role in global surveillance and ongoing drone wars. SpaceX has also won contracts with the Air Force to deliver its command satellite into orbit, with the Space Development Agency to send tracking devices into space, and with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to launch its spy satellites. These satellites are used by all of the “big five” surveillance agencies, including the CIA and the NSA.

Thus, in today’s world, where so much intelligence gathering and target acquisition is done via satellite technology, SpaceX has become every bit as important to the U.S. war machine as more well-known companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Without Musk’s company, the U.S. would not be able to carry out such an invasive program of spying and drone warfare around the world. Indeed, China is growing increasingly wary of this power, and is being advised to develop anti-satellite technologies to counter SpaceX’s all-seeing eye. Yet Musk himself continues to benefit from a general perception that he is not part of the system.

From its origins in 2002, SpaceX has always been extremely close to the national security state, particularly the CIA. Perhaps the most crucial link is Mike Griffin, who, at the time, was the president and COO of In-Q-Tel, a CIA-funded venture capital firm that seeks to nurture and sponsor new companies that will work with the CIA and other security services, equipping them with cutting edge technology. The “Q” in its name is a reference to “Q” from the James Bond series – a creative inventor who supplies the spy with the latest in futuristic tech.

Michael Griffin, left, meets with Musk, right, in 2005 at NASA Headquarters in DC. Renee Bouchard | NASA

Griffin was with Musk virtually from day one, accompanying him to Russia in February 2002, where they attempted to purchase cut-price intercontinental ballistic missiles to start Musk’s business. Musk felt that he could substantially undercut opponents by using second-hand material and off-the-shelf components for launches. The attempt failed, but the trip cemented a lasting partnership between the pair, with Griffin going to war for Musk, consistently backing him as a potential “Henry Ford” of the rocket industry. Three years later, Griffin would become head of NASA and later would hold a senior post at the Department of Defense.

While at NASA, Griffin brought Musk in for meetings and secured SpaceX’s big break. In 2006, NASA awarded the company a $396 million rocket development contract – a remarkable “gamble” in Griffin’s words, especially as it had never launched a rocket before. As National Geographic put it, SpaceX, “never would have gotten to where it is today without NASA.” And Griffin was essential to this development. Still, by 2008, SpaceX was again in dire straits, with Musk unable to make payroll. The company was saved by an unexpected $1.6 billion NASA contract for commercial cargo services. Thus, from its earliest days, SpaceX was nurtured by government agencies that saw the company as a potentially important source of technology.

NUKING MARS & BACKING COUPS

Like Henry Ford, Musk went into the automobile business, purchasing Tesla Motors in 2004. And also like Henry Ford, he has shared some rather controversial opinions. In 2019, for instance, he suggested that vaporizing Mars’ ice caps via a series of nuclear explosions could warm the planet sufficiently to support human life. If this was done, it would arguably not even be his worst crime against space. During a 2018 publicity stunt, he blasted a Tesla into outer space using a SpaceX rocket. However, he did not sterilize the vehicle before doing so, meaning it was covered in earthly bacteria – microorganisms that will likely be fatal to any alien life they encounter. In essence, the car is a biological weapon that could end life on any planet it encounters.

Musk also attracted attention when he appeared to admit that he worked with the U.S. government to overthrow Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2019. Bolivia is home to the world’s largest easy-to-extract lithium reserves, an element crucial in the production of electric-vehicle batteries. Morales had refused to open the country up to foreign corporations eager to exploit Bolivia for profit. Instead, he proposed developing sovereign technology to keep both the jobs and profits inside the country. He was overthrown by a U.S.-backed far-right coup in November 2019. The new government quickly invited Musk for talks. When asked on Twitter point blank whether he was involved in Morales’ ouster, Musk responded, “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

The South African has a long history of trolling and making inflammatory statements, so this “confession” might not be as cast-iron as it seems. Nevertheless, any hope of Musk profiting from Bolivia was shot after Morales’ party returned to power in a resounding victory one year later.

WORLD’S RICHEST MAN, FUNDED BY TAXPAYERS

In addition to the billions in government contracts Musk’s companies have secured, they also have received similar numbers in public subsidies and incentives. Chief among these is Tesla, which benefits greatly from complex international rules around electric vehicle production. In a push to reduce carbon emissions, governments around the world have introduced a system of credits for green vehicles, whereby a certain percentage of each manufacturer’s output must be zero-emission vehicles. Tesla only produces electric cars, so easily meets the mark.

However, the system also allows Tesla to sell their excess credits to manufacturers who cannot meet these quotas. In a competitive market where each manufacturer needs to hit certain targets, these credits are worth their weight in gold, and net Tesla billions in profit every year. For example, between 2019 and 2021 alone, Stellantis, which owns the Chrysler, Fiat, Citroen and Peugeot brands, forked out nearly $2.5 billion to acquire Tesla U.S. and European green credits.

This bizarre and self-defeating system goes some way to explaining why Tesla is worth more by market cap than Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, GM, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Volvo put together, despite not being even a top-15 car manufacturer in terms of units sold.

Musk’s company also received significant government backing in its early stages, receiving a $465 million low-interest loan from the Department of Energy in 2010, at a time when Tesla was on the rocks and its future was in doubt.

Like many giant companies, Tesla is able to play states off against each other, each job-hungry location bidding against the others to give the corporation as much free cash and tax incentives as possible. In 2020, for example, Austin gave Tesla more than $60 million in tax breaks to build a truck plant there.

This, however, was small fry in comparison to some of the deals Musk has signed. The State of New York handed Musk over $750 million, including $350 million in cash, in exchange for building a solar plant outside of Buffalo – a plant that Musk was bound to build somewhere in the United States. Meanwhile, Nevada signed an agreement with Tesla to build its Gigafactory near Reno. The included incentives mean that the car manufacturer could rake in nearly $1.3 billion in tax relief and tax credits. Between 2015 and 2018, Musk himself paid less than $70,000 in federal income taxes.

Therefore, while the 50-year-old businessman presents himself as a maverick science genius – an act that has garnered him legions of fans around the world – a closer inspection of his career shows he earned his fortune in a much more orthodox manner. First by being born rich, then by striking it big as a dot-com billionaire, and finally, like so many others, by feeding from the enormous government trough.

Perhaps more seriously though, SpaceX’s close proximity to both the military and the national security state marks it out as a key cog in the machine of U.S. empire, allowing Washington to spy, bomb or coup whoever it wants.

It is for this reason that so much of the hysteria, both positive and negative, over Musk’s ongoing purchase of Twitter is misplaced. Elon Musk is neither going to save nor destroy Twitter because he is not a crusading rebel challenging the establishment: he is an integral part of it.

Alan MacLeod

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

29 comments

  1. These pukes are the enemy. If you pull back a few more layers of this Musk or any of the 3,700 billionaires and their thugs who call themselves lawyers, and their business associates, and the like, all you get is perversions, including their political prostitutes, like Trump-Pelosi-Manchin-Biden-Bush-and-the-list-is-published-at-Wikipedia.

    Values, ethics, empathy, concern for others, humility, kindness, vision, community. These Musk’s of the world are the enemy.

    These words should send deep chills up any pacificist’s trembling spine: “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

    Well well, enemy of the people. And, as I stated in the Mint Press comments section: And, so, as we know, these billionaires like Soros and Musk, well, they are enemies of many states, not just enemies of human kind. Hence, in Ukraine, this Musk’s war meddling makes him a target, I would think and hope. The problem is most people are colonized into thinking their masters and the billionaire class (sic) and multimillionaire class (sic) are untouchable. Imagine that, no, handing out telecomm equipment to USA’s “enemies”. Imagine how that would play out. Russia needs to steel itself for the next centuries to deal with these criminals, these shysters, these star chamber sociopaths. I believe the Russians need some educaiton quickly on what so-called westerners think of and will do to the Slavs. In my book, Musk is an enemy combatant.

    1. I understand your attitude, your wrath even.
      But really it is not those people who are the problem is it?

      Look at the story of this one, Musk, he wouldn’t be where he is and he wouldn’t stay there were it not for government. That makes govt more the problem than Musk.

      And who lets govt do these things? We do That makes us the problem.

      Musk, and all of them are nothing more than greedy little boys greedy for money. Innocents in fact. Naive.

      They are without ulterior motive. They don’t seek the downfall of this or that, these or those, except inasmuch as it brings them profit and that more immediate than long range.

      And they’re usually not too smart. Look at Musk’s history as presented to us there – in trouble as recently as 2010 it seems, bailed out by govt. Trump apparently can’t improve his inherited wealth. Many of them are like that.

      The problem is when a country stops being led by leader of a nation and instead is ‘led’ by effectively nothing but Company CEO’s. i.e. govt becomes and arm of business and business is an arm of govt which is simply an arm of business… round and round in a circle…. just leeching off the people who are unaware and just pay for everything.

      Within that circle they feel that are just and right and good and proper. Because they are ! According to he dictates of Business the duty is simply to maximise profits, nothing more, nothing less. And that’s what they do.

      They see no ‘duty’ to maximise the welfare of their constituents nor even the country itself seen as infrastructure etc..

      In effect we have no ‘leaders’ when it gets like that.

      And that’s our fault and it’s up to us to rectify it. They won’t do it. Why should they? They live according to the code: maximise profits.

    2. @paul&hater: ye forgot to mention russian billionaires, who are, all of’em, noble, spiritual creatures whose only concern is the betterment of all of us, and only the hordes of Ukrainian nazis attacking the russian motherland relentlessly have kept them isolated on board their obscenely expensive yachts while they plan their next humanitarian move…
      RIGHT???

  2. Oh, another billionaire . . . In his 2001 book, A Cook’s Tour, chef Anthony Bourdain presented a very unexpected take on Kissinger, one worth savoring: “Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking.

    This is it for the billionaire class — murdering everuthing:

    “War within the War: The Fight over Land and Genetically Engineered Agriculture”

    https://covertactionmagazine.com/2022/05/31/war-within-the-war-the-fight-over-land-and-genetically-engineered-agriculture/

    +–+

    On an infant note:

    The SAME FDA that turned a blind eye to vast harms to humans, and to the subcategory of moms and babies, in the Pfizer documents, declared that Abbot, a major producer of baby formula in the US, had to close its factory. [See this = CIA News Network, https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/03/business/lab-grown-human-milk-biomilq-health-climate-hnk-spc-intl/index.html ]

    Coincidentally, with little formula available and with some or many (we don’t know) vaccinated moms having compromised breast milk, it turns out that Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Mark Zuckerberg have all invested in a startup called “BioMilq” — which produces lab grown breast milk from mammary cells. [See this]. Reports of this startup include this Frankenstein-like language as if this is normal:

    “The BIOMILQ team creates its product from cells taken from human breast tissue and milk, donated by women in the local community, who get a Target giftcard in return.” [See this, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/16/biomilq-raises-3point5-million-from-bill-gates-investment-firm.html ]

    As if all of this is not horrific enough, Ms Hecht drew studies from three countries — Canada, Scotland and now Israel – -to show that babies are dying disproportionately, during and after 2021, in highly vaccinated countries, and that newborns are dying disproportionately if they have vaccinated mothers versus unvaccinated mothers.

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/dear-friends-sorry-announce-genocide/5782022

    I wonder if the four amigos got endorsements from the Le Leche League for their BioMilq. Sick bastards.

    1. Blood transfusion recipients are another group to investigate as far as percentage of blood from vaccinated vs. unvaccinated donors and adverse effects.

      I always thought Monsanto and the FDA were the devil, but I didn’t know IMF loans were dependent upon planting GMO crops.

  3. Can’t believe anything anymore. Just this morning @ 4 am I was outside noting the clear skies and what a nice sunny day it looked to be, but when I went out again at 5:40 am there were multiple contrails and by 7:35 am our beautiful sunny day was under another gray sky blocking the sun. Since I’ve watched this happen multiple times this spring, I no longer think it’s a conspiracy theory, though google would like you to believe so. Just one thing in a long day of lies and deception.

    1. Ahh, bye bye skies of old, when they were so much deeper blue-violet in the 1950s . . .

      Adding enough sulfate to the stratosphere to block 2 percent of the sun’s light would make the sky three to five times brighter, they report in a paper that will be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

      That is roughly the level of sulfate geoengineering needed to counteract the warming that would result if the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere climbed to 560 parts per million, up from roughly 390 ppm today.

      The world might be cooler, but blue skies would become a little less blue, the scientists report. Even remote, sparsely inhabited areas would lie under a whitish sky resembling the haze that now blankets cities like Paris.

      And the injection of a continuous stream of sulfate particles would lend sunsets a man-made afterglow.

      “People who are used to living in New York might not notice a difference, but people in the mountains might notice a difference,” said lead author Ben Kravitz, a postdoctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution.

      1. CO2 is at a solid 420 ppm right now, reached 422 ppm earlier this month, and we have see multiple days above 421.

        CO2 was above 400 by 2016.

      2. @paul&hater: yes, blocking the sunlight always makes the sky brighter… it is, indeed, brightest when 80% of the sunlight is blocked by storm clouds. this was today’s segment of “science by paul”

    2. Yeah, them damn contrails are blocking my solar panels god dammit! For the spring in OUR skies?!

    3. @Paula
      Humans have screwed up the environment in so many ways it’s impossible to list them all. Flying should be left to birds, and the fact that planes exist at all is the problem.

  4. The fact that the people look to billionaire megalomaniacs to save them from the other billionaire megalomaniacs to the exclusion of anything and everything else, is really all you need to know to understand how magnificently fucked we all truly are.

    1. @JustAMaverick
      The problem is that the government should be stopping social media censorship. As you said, the fact that we are looking to a billionaire to stop it is not a good thing, and is not a permanent or adequate solution to this problem.

  5. All one needs to know about Elon Musk is when he called out the guy who dared to criticize his elaborate submarine scheme to rescue the trapped kids a few years back as a pedophile. Elon is as sick as they come. By the way, they managed to rescue the kids without his high tech solutions. Elon and his ilk will kill us all as their sociopathic asses and minds run amok. In a sane and civilized world they would all be locked up in padded cells for life. Egos like his are untenable in this day and age.

    1. @schroedinger agree with yer assessment of musk, but why does everybody on this blog leave out vladimir putin? cause he “ain’t a billionaire” [oh please!!!], or cause he don’t do bad shit to the planet [oh purty please!!!]
      no, true to bias, on these here pages only western billionaires are evil, russian ones are just a bunch of hardworking, humanitarian, noble specimen who are currently unjustly attacked by hordes of that mythical beast, the ukrainian nazi hordes…
      partial blindness, most common disease found amongst scheerpost posters…

  6. apparently musk opposes censorship more than the fascist dems upsetting the twitter people

    1. Human stain, all of them, and you know it, whether billionaire and millionaire, republican, libertarian, democrat, all criminals, and Musk is again, nothing, yet he will be controlling some social degenerate tool like Twitter?

      A good story, real journalism, here:

      https://www.propublica.org/article/atlantic-city-casinos-taxes-gambling-pilot?utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=majorinvestigations&utm_content=feature

      Or, more thievery here,

      Who Cashes in After a California Wildfire?

      https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/06/02/who-cashes-in-after-a-california-wildfire/

      Sheared Off Post is, well, sheared off news (sic).

      Despite growing profits, casino operators used predictions of “grave danger” to convince the state to slash their tax burden, denying millions to the city, its school district and the county.

  7. Opinion: Musk is on the spectrum and lacks a true moral compass. I hope I’m wrong. But I don’t think so.

  8. I don’t trust anyone with lots of money – no doubt they got it by hook or by crook…

  9. Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX are combining with Wall Street, the Pentagon and NASA to produce a “Terminator Skynet” apparatus that can destroy Any Nation or Human Being Anywhere in the World. Financially or “Terminate with Prejudice” . Russia is enduring this Process over the Ukraine. The American Empire Bribed Zelensky with a $35 Million Miami Manshion to join NATO and station F35 Bombers carrying B61-12 Tactical Nuclear Bombs on Ukrainian Airfields almost on the Russian Border. That`s why Putin Invaded the Ukraine.

  10. I can’t remember when I didn’t live downwind from some toxic effect of the MIC. (Did I ever?) At present, I’m living in a lovely locale under clear skies routinely crisscrossed by chemtrails which eventually cloud-cover all below, and with who knows what shit they’re raining down on us. But if people can be programmed to deny laws of physics with narratives about how the enemy’s terrorism brought down those towers, then it’s no surprise that so many in this particular war zone can be wearing the real tinfoil hat of ‘conspiracy theory’ to shield them from the obvious, hidden in plain sight of what’s overhead. That is, if they ever get their heads out of their apps to look up long and discerningly enough.

    Whatever, they’re going to try to re-engineer and great-reset us one way or another, whether by ‘smart’ phone or aerosolized implants. In that respect, the desert night sky here has also offered numerous sightings of satellite launches, eerily ascending lines of artificial stars disappearing into positions of full spectrum dominance over the earth, to rain such reign of terror upon all humanity and life below as to make us all extinct, a possible outcome of the toxic electromagnetic effects from these death stars’ invisible cloud of 5/6G across the planet. The first launch I saw was Musk’s, but I’ve not kept up with whether any of his billionaire buddies, as in partners in crime, like Bezos or Gates, might have been in on later light shows of the gods for us untermenschen.

    The fascist corporatism of the private-public partnership of the state has metastasized across the planet, climaxing paths of destruction throughout history from class-based, imperial civilization’s origins. We’re locked into a war at this late stage of war upon humanity and life on earth which threatens to be decisive in determining whether we will ever again be able to break free from this madness of civilization. Because ruling ideas of its every age have been those of the ruling class, it’s a spiritual war rooted in sharing material resources, breaking free of the psychopathy that implicates us in civilization’s death march of progress, now out to be abnormalized in multiply coordinated launches of global, techno-totalitarian control.

    Breaking Free From Mass Formation with Mattias Desmet
    https://www.corbettreport.com/desmet-massformation/

  11. So how is use of starlink not just painting a giant target on oneself?

  12. This column is an exercise in deflection. What the hell does controlling Twitter have to do with being a military contractor? If Musk takes control of Twitter, which is looking like it’s not going to happen, and he follows through with his promise to stop the censorship, that would be a good thing. That doesn’t negate the evil he does by being ultra rich, promoting his Mars crap (humans aren’t content to just destroy the Earth, they now have to destroy the rest of the solar system too), or being a military contractor, but it’s also irrelevant to those things.

  13. @p&h… not to mention what russia does to slavs. like to their brethren the Ukrainians who they indiscriminately slaughter…. oh, i forget, ye blind in that eye….

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