Security

Former NSA director Keith Alexander may have sold classified info for $1M per month

Former NSA director Keith Alexander
Image Credit: John Koetsier

The biggest scandal to ever roil the National Security Agency, compliments of Edward Snowden, happened on his watch, but that hasn’t stopped retired General Keith Alexander from demanding a seven-figure technical consulting fee now that he’s a civilian.

Alexander retired from the agency last year, and his name will be forever linked to Snowden’s vast data theft. When news of his million-dollar plus consulting fee leaked, Alexander was blasted my members of Congress, one of whom blamed him for profiteering by trading secrets for cash.

More directly, Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson accused Alexander Wednesday of disclosing “classified information to bank trade groups for monthly fees of up to $1,000,000.”

According to Grayson, here quoted in press reports, “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.”

That may be one way of making sure you’re now being monitored by the NSA. Who knows.

Heavy stuff. But Grayson seems to forget that’s what many in the government, intelligence, and law enforcement sectors do when they retire: that is, build upon their myriad contacts from their time in government service to land high-paying jobs. It’s an old tale, and one Americans seem to live with.

To be fair, Alexander has a reputation as a shrewd operator, and Snowden’s voluminous theft of NSA documents cannot be blamed solely on him.

These days, Alexander is plying his technical skills for a security firm called IronNet Security, which is focused on protecting the U.S. banking system from devastating cyber attacks. According to press reports, Alexander and his team have come up with a “unique” system for detecting such attacks.

That’s a real threat. And Alexander has a strong working knowledge of cyber security. And now, he’s making real money for his efforts. As a civilian. That’s the American way.