SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claims that the US Department of Justice has been “weaponized” against his company for “political purposes,” and that the firm is being sued despite trying to stay on the right side of the law.
The Justice Department announced on Thursday that it had filed a lawsuit against SpaceX for refusing to hire refugees and asylum seekers, and for allegedly “discouraging” these people from applying. Although SpaceX stated in its job advertisements that it could only hire US citizens and permanent residents due to the national security implications of rocket technology, the lawsuit claimed that refugees and asylum seekers have the same employment rights as US citizens under a 1965 immigration law.
Musk claimed on Friday that prior to the lawsuit, government officials told SpaceX on multiple occasions not to hire foreigners.
“SpaceX was told repeatedly that hiring anyone who was not a permanent resident of the United States would violate international arms trafficking law, which would be a criminal offense,” he wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
“We couldn’t even hire Canadian citizens, despite Canada being part of NORAD!” he continued, referring to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a cross-border aerospace monitoring and missile warning command.
“This is yet another case of weaponization of the DOJ for political purposes,” Musk added. In a separate post, he declared that “the weaponization of government agencies needs to stop. This fundamentally undermines public faith in the justice system.”
The arms trafficking law in question is the US State Department’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). All current SpaceX job listings inform potential candidates that unless a US citizen or permanent resident, they must obtain an ITAR waiver from the State Department to work at the company.
As Musk explained on Friday, “The fundamental principle of ITAR law is that US companies who have advanced weapons technology, such as rockets with intercontinental range, must hire people who are permanent American residents, so that the technology does not fall into the hands of countries who wish us harm.”
While attempting to follow one law, the Justice Department’s lawsuit argues that Musk was breaking another.
Although Musk is not a political rival of President Joe Biden, he has been at odds with the Biden administration since he purchased Twitter last October. Since taking over the since-renamed social media platform, Musk has published documents revealing a conspiracy by the White House, FBI, and other government agencies to control the flow of information on the site, prompting reports that the Biden administration had launched a national security investigation into the tycoon.