From the dawn of the Cold War and its founding, the CIA has taken on the mystique of being the silent hand of the U.S. government; it’s the everpresent tip of the spear in global conflicts and shadowy espionage campaigns. Arming the Mujahideen that eventually helped defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan (and give birth to al-Qaeda) and maybe writing a hit rock song that contributed to bringing down the Berlin Wall, have become part of its lore. But it has also been entwined in countless controversies ranging from the Phoenix Program during the Vietnam War, the assassination of Congo’s first Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, to Watergate, and most recently, it’s role in the universally condemned torture of detainees during the decades-long war on terror.
Then, in perhaps an off brand move for a spy agency that prides itself on covert actions, in 2014 it dove headfirst into a shiny new era in its history: It got a Twitter and Instagram account, blue checkmarks and all.
Since then, the CIA has been undergoing some kind of public rebranding. Recently the agency seemed to piss off all sides of the political spectrum with a very “Woke” recruitment ad that received a Twitter-storm of criticism. But why does an intelligence agency that’s whole existence is based on how good it is at being an impenetrable labyrinth, need a public presence? Motherboard reporter Edward Ongweso is on the show to talk about spies and tweets on this week’s episode of CYBER.