- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 9, 2021

Sen. Marco Rubio sounded an alarm Thursday over reports the CIA is considering establishing a presence on TikTok, a social media platform with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Mr. Rubio, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, called it a “Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-controlled” app.

In a letter to CIA Director William Burns, the Florida senator said the social media platform and other “Chinese-owned apps” pose a significant risk to national security and urged Mr. Burns to stay clear.

Mr. Rubio’s concerns piqued following a report Wednesday by Politico about the CIA’s social media strategy to demystify the spy agency and recruit a more diverse workforce. A CIA spokesperson said the agency was considering joining the “Gen Z-dominated video app,” but acknowledged the risk and said the agency currently had no plans to join.

“We cannot pretend that TikTok and other Chinese-owned companies are not beholden to the CCP,” Mr. Rubio wrote Thursday. “Both China’s Counterespionage Law and Cybersecurity Law grant PRC intelligence officials the right to enter privately-owned commercial facilities, examine private records, investigate and question personnel, and access or even seize communications equipment owned by companies or individuals.”

The CIA has close to 400,000 followers on Instagram, 3.2 million followers on Twitter, and 60,000 subscribers on YouTube, according to the news site.

Earlier this year, the agency’s social media strategy was criticized after the agency releasing a post as part of its “Humans of CIA” campaign in which a CIA employee named Mia extolled the push toward inclusivity at the agency.

“I am a woman of color, I am a mom, I am a cisgender millennial who’s been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I am intersectional, but my existence is not a box-checking exercise,” Mia said in the post.

The CIA was blasted for its “woke” campaign by conservatives such as Sen. Tex Cruz, Texas Republican, and former Trump administration CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Mr. Rubio piled on in his letter, calling on Mr. Burns to reject the “woke agenda” and “focus on keeping American’s safe.”

“Instead of devoting precious national security resources toward a misguided agenda, the CIA should be focused on the most pressing challenges of our time, including the threats from the CCP, Putin’s Russia, the Iranian regime, and terrorist networks growing more dangerous due to the Biden Administration’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal,” he wrote.

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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