Former NSA Director Keith Alexander's lucrative entrance into the private sector has raised a heap of ethical questions about the spy chief's intentions.
Now the NSA has yet another dilemma on its hands: Investigative journalist Jason Leopold is suing the agency for denying him the release of financial disclosure statements attributable to its former director.
According to reports, prospective clients of Alexander's, namely large banks, will be billed $1 million a month for his cyber-consulting services. Recode.net quipped that for an extra million, Alexander would show them the back door (state-installed spyware mechanisms) that the NSA put in consumer routers.
But some aren't simply laughing off the retired four-star general's new endeavor. Some, like Leopold, are concerned that Alexander might actually plan on selling high-level state security secrets for his hefty price tag.
In the Baltimore division of the federal district of Maryland, the law offices of Jeffrey Light have served the NSA with a complaint, listing Leopold’s multiple attempts to retrieve Alexander's records, and the utter refusal by the agency to fulfill the journalist’s requests.
Citing the Ethics in Government Act, Florida Congressman Alan Grayson wrote on behalf of Leopold, in a letter addressed to NSA Deputy Counsel Ariana Cerelenko, pressing that the public release of Alexander’s financial records are required—“unless the President finds that the release of the form would ‘reveal sensitive information,’ or ‘compromise the national interest.’"
Alexander, who stood at the helm of the NSA longer than any of its previous directors, has been, unequivocally, privy to the inner workings of the agency, whose nuts and bolts ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden began leaking to journalists a little over a year ago.
Considering his résumé, it doesn't seem like it'd be difficult for Alexander to find work. But opponents like Grayson argue that Alexander's value and experience is far more fragile than it would appear.
Grayson recently wrote to one of Alexander's potential clients, the Security Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), to explain that “without the classified information that he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer to you.”
The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have both released financial disclosure statements, which can be found on the US government's ethics website. But the repeated denial by NSA to publish its records seems to suggest it’s an exception to the rule.
There's no indication has been made that the White House has ever issued a waiver to protect the agency, or Alexander’s employee identity, but that may come to light when the case is heard. The full complaint is below: