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Against All Odds, John McAfee Is a Terrible Spy

No matter how many fantastical blog posts he has to write, John McAfee will win your attention.
January 7, 2013, 4:20pm

John McAfee knows you've missed him. The aging software entrepreneur has been relatively silent since Guatemalan officials deported him to the United States for entering their country illegally nearly a month ago, and for all we know, he's just been sipping daiquiris in South Beach. At some point, McAfee headed to the Midwest where he's taking a vacation and fishing for more attention.

His latest effort is characteristically dramatic. Belize still wants to bring McAfee in for his questioning in the murder of his ex-pat American neighbor Gregory Faull, but  in his latest blog post, McAfee has a few questions of his own. Detailing a characteristically strange and twisting tale, McAfee says that he's been spying on Belizean officials for ages and has discovered all sorts of bad behavior in the country's ranks. It would be some pretty serious spy work work if it were true — and there's almost no way of finding out if it is — and if McAfee didn't just completely blow his cover. Because isn't the first rule of spying to keep the fact that you're a spy a secret?


It's pretty unclear exactly what McAfee's trying to get out of his surveillance escapades. On one hand, he sounds like he's really trying to uncover some serious corruption in the Belizean government, but on the other, it really seems like he's just trying to get back at some goons who killed his dog. Whatever the reason, McAfee says that bought 75 cheap laptops and loaded them up with keylogging software that could also tap into the machine's camera and microphone and gave them as gifts to Belizean power players and their associates: "government employees, police officers, Cabinet Minister's assistants, girlfriends of powerful men, boyfriends of powerful women."

McAfee says he then recruited 23 women and 6 men as "operatives," agents who would have sex with the targets and steal secrets in the process. He talks about planting bugs in government offices and snooping into their cell phones to read their sent text messages. All kinds of spy work that probably could've been effective had McAfee not just explained how he did it.

The fruits of McAfee's labor seem a little rotten upon delivery. In the mold of WikiLeaks-loving conspiracy theorists, McAfee tries to string together a few leads into a larger web of deception that involves Belize enabling Hezbollah to operate in the region. The Zetas, that infamously violent Mexican drug cartel, also makes an appearance, and McAfee says that he's now recruited people in Mexico to investigate the connections. (Pro tip: People investigating the Zetas in Mexico tend to have a short lifespan.)

But as always, it's hard to figure out where McAfee fantasyland ends and the real world begins. One would think that if McAfee had discovered links between the Belizean government, drug cartels and Hezbollah, he might hand that off to The New York Times or something since he's definitely not a journalist.

The shady information isn't really the takeaway from McAfee's new spying adventure, though. Really, we seeing just how much of a troll McAfee can be. His bad spy work will probably serve only to piss off the Belizean government even more. While I'm no expert on the legal system in Belize, it seems possible that McAfee broke a law or two when he spied on government officials email accounts and tapped their offices. Perhaps it's enough for them to get a warrant and actually bring him in. At the very least, he's attracting attention from two seriously unfuckwithable organizations — Hezbollah and the Zetas — after having shown the entire world that he's not very good at life on the lam.

Now that we have a little distance from the initial excitement of the McAfee saga, you've really got to ask yourself who cares. Most of the world hadn't heard of McAfee until he was running from the law, and it seemed like we could all forget him after he got arrested. But John McAfee doesn't want you to forget him. No matter how many fantastical blog posts he has to write, he will win your attention.

Image by Brian Finke, via