President Trump must be happy Elon Musk came along like a lightning rod. In recent weeks it is Musk, rather than Trump, who has come under unrelenting fire from the government, headline-grabbing Democrats, and their lapdog media allies.
This past week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for a new investigation of Musk and Tesla’s Starlink satellite network. She wants to know why he refused the Ukraine military’s demand that he turn on Starlink over a blacked-out area over Crimea.
Ukraine wanted to use Starlink to guide a surprise, first-ever drone attack on Russian ships off the coast of Russian-controlled Crimea in the Black Sea. The Starlink blackout prevented six submarine drones from reaching their target.
Had they succeeded, this might have escalated U.S. involvement in the Ukraine war and, some cable Cassandras argued, it could have set off World War III. This is way overdone — we should never set policy based on worst-case fears.
Still, the sanctimonious senator from Massachusetts took offense to this de-escalation and called on the Department of Defense and Congress — meaning her royal highness herself — to investigate. As she told a CNN anchor:
“No one is supposed to make foreign policy for the United States other than the United States government. It is not up to one billionaire to go off in secret and change our foreign policy.”
Your time is short, so I will cut to it: Elon Musk has done nothing close to this — he was following U.S. law. Tin-eared Lizzie is wrong here, and she should apologize to him.
I stand with Elon — and so should you. For more on this, see my Parting Shot at the end of "What's Bugging Me."
Why are so many powerful people so afraid of Elon Musk? Sen. Warren also has called for the SEC to investigate possible conflicts of interest between Tesla and Twitter; the SEC and Justice are conducting probes of whether Tesla is building a glass house for its CEO (not a joke, as Biden would say); Tesla is under investigation by NHTSA; and federal prosecutors are investigating Tesla mileage claims.
They are doing the tacit bidding of President Biden, who in November 2022 was asked at a rare press conference whether Musk and his new purchase of Twitter should be investigated as a “threat to national security.” What threat? — it’s a media platform!
Biden: “I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationship with other countries is worthy of being looked at. Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting that it’s worth being looked at. And that’s all I’ll say.”
Right. Elon Musk might be doing something inappropriate. We don’t know what, so let’s have a looksie!
Sen. Warren’s new Musk attack surfs on Walter Isaacson’s new biography, “Elon Musk,” published on Tuesday. Her Starlink stance is based on what Isaacson himself now says was a critical error, buried at the bottom of page 430 of 669 pages. He oversteps:
“Allowing the use of Starlink for the attack, (Musk) concluded, could be a disaster for the world. So he secretly told his engineers to turn off coverage within a hundred kilometers of the Crimean coast. As a result, when the Ukrainian drone subs got near the Russian fleet in Sevastopol, they lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly.”
Isaacson gamely stepped up in the past week to say he got it wrong and correct this wherever he could. Elon Musk had refused a demand by Ukraine that he violate U.S. sanctions and turn on network coverage without U.S. authorization.
Elon Musk added details this week at a fan summit for the All In podcast:
“We're not allowed to actually turn on connectivity to [Russian-controlled Crimea] without explicit government approval. So, we did not have the U.S. government. … And then we basically figured out that this was kind of like a Pearl Harbor attack on the Russian fleet at Sevastopol. So what they’re really asking us for is to actually take part in a major act of war.”
He added: “And, you know, while we certainly have huge support for the Ukraine government, um, the Ukrainian government is not in charge of U.S. people or companies. That's not how it works.” The crowd crackled with applause.
Musk told the audience that if President Biden had “ordered” him to turn on his privately owned Starlink, Musk would have complied. “Because I do regard the president as the chief executive officer of the country. Whether I want that person to be president or not, I still respect the office.”
Perhaps Sen. Warren’s quarrelsome questions are better directed at President Biden. Leave Elon alone.
Dennis Kneale is a writer and media strategist in New York and host of the podcast, "What's Bugging Me." Previously, he was an anchor at CNBC and at Fox Business Network, after serving as a senior editor at The Wall Street Journal and managing editor of Forbes. Read Dennis Kneale's reports — More Here.
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