Surveillance

Lawmaker Slams Ex-NSA Chief: 'Nothing to Offer' but State Secrets

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wikicommons

Keith Alexander, since stepping down from his position as National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command chief following last year's mass surveillance revelations, has gotten himself in the business of cybersecurity consulting.

And not everyone's comfortable with that. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fl.) yesterday published letters he sent to the "Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable and the Clearing House—all of which Alexander reportedly has approached about his services," according to Wired. The congressman, who sits on both the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, gave a roundabout warning to former spy chief:

Disclosing or misusing classified information for profit is, as Mr. Alexander well knows, a felony. I question how Mr. Alexander can provide any of the services he is offering unless he discloses or misuses classified information, including extremely sensitive sources and methods. Without the classified information he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer to you.

He concluded by turning up the heat and asks the organizations to be transparent:

Please send me all information related to your negotiations with Mr. Alexander, so that Congress can verify whether or not he is selling military and cybersecurity secrets to the financial industry for personal gain.

House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Grayson isn't the only skeptic. In his letter, he cites top computer security expert Bruce Schneier, who has similar concerns. Regarding Alexander's eye-popping rates, $600,000 to $1 million a month, earlier this week Schneier asked his readers to "think of how much actual security they could buy with that $600K a month. Unless he's giving them classified information."

There's a pinch of irony that Alexander, who does a lot of handwringing over Edward Snowden for exposing government secrets, is now on the receiving end suspicion for similar actions.

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  1. Man, it really is Bizzaro day. Here I am agreeing with Alan Grayson about something substantive.

    1. Grayson’s argument is that no one could possibly be worth $1 million/month as a consultant. Are you actually agreeing that anyone making more than $12 million/year should be presumed to be up to something illegal?

      1. That wasn’t Grayson’s argument.

        1. Stormy Dragon likes to burn straw men to the ground.

          1. All that CO2 released into the atmosphere by the burning straw can’t be good for the climate. Shame on you, Stormy Dragon!

            1. All the carbon in straw came from the atmosphere anyways. Straw burning is carbon neutral.

              1. By that ‘logic’ burning anything is carbon neutral.

                1. No, fossil fuels contain carbon that’s been sequestered for millions of years, so burning them increases atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

                  1. No, fossil fuels contain carbon that’s been sequestered for millions of years, so burning them increases atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

                    Does the term “intellectually bankrupt” have any meaning to you?

                    1. Words mean exactly what SD wishes them to mean, nothing more, nothing less!

                    2. He burned that bridge long ago.

        2. Yes it is. He has no evidence Alexander has actually done anything wrong. He just wants to justify a fishing expedition because he thinks it’s his place to decide how much people deserve to be paid.

          1. Your straw man is arguing that no one could be worth that much money under any circumstance, while the actual argument is about a specific person and some specific circumstances.

            1. And it wasn’t even Grayson’s argument, he was quoting someone else. It’s straw men all the way down.

      2. If the person purveying the information is a former government official? Yeah. Who matters as much as what.

      3. Grayson’s argument is that no one could possibly be worth $1 million/month as a consultant.

        No, his argument is that Alexander isn’t worth that much. And he may be correct. But I really don’t care, because I enjoy seeing the government on the receiving end of a screwing.

        1. Shouldn’t the government’s burden of proof before demanding a business turn over all their documentation be higher than “he may be correct”?

          1. Subpoenaing possible recipients of classified information seems like the appropriate way of discovering whether classified information has been sold.

            1. Either way, it’s irrelevant to the original “no one” straw man.

    2. Grayson is an enormous asshole. And now I, too, find myself in agreement with him.

      No further proof is needed of NSA’s evil.

  2. Pft… there’s another option besides selling classified info. This could just be the payoff for something he already did.

  3. I’d be a bit more sympathetic toward the congress critter if they didn’t sell access after they leave office.
    You think people are paying to listen to Shrillery’s keen insights and bask in the radiance of her beauty?

    1. I thought she was telling people her program for becoming a millionaire with just $10000 and a copy of the WSJ.

    2. What difference – at this point – does it make?

  4. Please send me all information related to your negotiations with Mr. Alexander, so that Congress can verify whether or not he is selling military and cybersecurity secrets to the financial industry for personal gain.

    Or what?

    1. Or what?

      “Nice little corporation you got there. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it.”

    2. “Or else we will be very angry with you… and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.”

    3. You think the following organizations: Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable and the Clearing House Might have business before Congress that it would be in their interest to not have held up?

      1. Yeah, raise your hand if you’d be surprised if Grayson started consulting these industries once he left office.

    4. Yeah, This part really pissed me off. I get Grayson’s point, But who the fuck does he think he is? Yeah, Yeah, I know……

  5. Grayson’s actually right, broadly.

    These ex-pubsecs who go into the private sector for big bux are selling public property, in a way. Mostly, they are selling access or inside information.

    I like Instapundit’s proposal: All ex pubsecs (including elected officials) are subject to a surtax on all earnings in excess of their pubsec pay after they leave their pubsec position. We can finetune the clawback period and percentage: 50% for five years? 80% for 3 years?, but the basic principle is sound.

    R C Dean

    1. How about 90% until they’ve paid in taxes an amount equal to the their pay as public employees for their entire public career?

    2. My only comment is what do you do with someone who goes to work in a field completely removed from his public sector field. Say I leave the service, and go to work as a Walmart greeter, or start my own toy company, or write novels? How is that something for the government to claw back. Also, what If I become a mercenary in Africa? I am selling skills that I learned in the military, but that was the implicit deal of joining it… I am not selling access or secrets.

      1. Say I leave the service, and go to work as a Walmart greeter, or start my own toy company, or write novels?

        Depending on the length of the clawback period, etc., I doubt those are going to throw off enough money to trigger the tax.

        And if they do? Well, you filthy 1%er, you should pay the taxes because social justice.

        R C Dean

        1. RC, you’re the only one I recognize from “back in the day” when thoreau was here and we drove Mona the Neocon out after the Iraq war, remember those times?

          I was RandyAyn back then, and I’m sure you remember me calling Bush a “coke-addled retard.” Good Times!

    3. All it’s going to do is force ex-employees to sell on the black market.

      If dipshits like Grayson don’t like what happens with ex-employees, maybe there shouldn’t be so many government employees in the first place.

      Grayson could start making waves about slashing the NSA budget by 50%, but you know the cocksucker will never do it. So I’m fine with making government jobs a Hotel California: you can check in any time you like but you can never leave.

      I’m fine with government killing its own employees, and I know it won’t deter idiots from taking government jobs. I’ll even call them heroes if it means we can be rid of them.

  6. Ditto to Brent L. and all others who are shocked to be agreement with Grayson. I think that former, high-ranking officers (O-9 and O-10s) like Alexander do deserve extra scrutiny, particularly when they are quite clearly cashing in on their position. Is he worth the price without giving away state secrets… possibly, but I think he should bear the scrutiny, not necessarily his employers. Does anyone know what lobbying rules attain to former government employees, specifically military officers?

    1. I had to sign lots of non-disclosure stuff when I got off active duty…I would hope to God, this guy had to do the same.

    2. Does anyone know what lobbying rules attain to former government employees, specifically military officers?

      Don’t know about military, but I am forbidden for two years to work in the industry that I regulate.

      1. How about being a consultant or an expert in the industry?

        1. Nope. I also cannot hold stock in any company that does business with any org. within the Department.

      2. I am forbidden for two years to work in the industry that I regulate.

        Which is why so many ex-pubsecs join law firms or consulting firms. Where their clients are the industry they used to regulate, but they aren’t working in the industry, etc.

        R C Dean

  7. Glenn Reynolds has a good answer for this.

  8. Disclosing or misusing classified information for profit is, as Mr. Alexander well knows, a felony.

    While disclosing the same information for the cause of liberty is treason.

    1. MAN UP!

      1. Alan Grayson knows how to keep a woman in her place. Also, telling a cuckolded husband to ‘man up’? That’s pretty horrible othering.

  9. Wow – Grayson and Alexander. Whom do I hate moar??

    *head vibrates – explodes*

  10. Alan Grayson has clearly been taking classes @ the Matt Welch School of Shirt-Tie ‘StatementMaking

    1. The statement seems to be “I’m colorblind, haven’t paid my utility bill and have to dress in the dark, and my wife refuses to help me out.”

      1. You had me until “wife”.

        I was feeling more, “my $2.00 truck stop boy-whore”

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