It’s Not Just Spying – How the NSA Has Turned Into a Giant Profit Center for Corrupt Insiders
It’s Not Just Spying – How the NSA Has Turned Into a Giant Profit Center for Corrupt Insiders
Michael Krieger | Posted Monday Oct 20, 2014 at 12:03 pm
Dear NSA Employees, You Now Have a Green Light to Loot and Pillage. It’s Time to Get Paid:
Are you just another one of those frustrated NSA employees who feels that unconstitutionally spying on your fellow citizenry under false pretenses isn’t giving you same thrill it once did? If so, have no fear.
Are you are sick and tired of having to spilt your precious working hours defending the destruction of our nation’s founding document to those pesky terroristic media dinosaurs who still think investigative journalism belongs in Amerika? If so, have I got a solution for you.
While it may sound too good to be true, trust me it’s not. You see, in recent years almost all crony-capitalist criminal activities have been deemed legal in the land of the free (to pillage). This incredible opportunity allows you to directly leverage your intelligence skill-set to earn the big bucks you know you’ve always deserved. You can now do just that by working in the private sector without having to give up that cushy government day job! I mean if we’re going to have this banana republic thing going we may as well GET PAID. Am I right?
Keep at it patriots,
If the above sounds like a joke, unfortunately it is not. Last week, two very important stories came out; one from Reuters and the other from Buzzfeed. They both zero in on how current NSA employees are using their expertise and connections to make big money in the private sector while still working at the NSA. Let’s start with the Reuters story, which covers former NSA-head Keith Alexander’s business relationship with the NSA’s current Chief Technical Officer, Patrick Dowd.
Before we get into the meat of this story, I want to set the stage with a little background. In case you forgot, Keith Alexander launched his own cyber-security firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., earlier this year. I highlighted this development in the post, Ex-NSA Chief Keith Alexander is Now Pimping Advice to Wall Street Banks for $1 Million a Month, in which I noted:
So what’s a Peeping Tom, anti-democratic, Constitution-trampling intelligence crony to do after leaving decades of “public service?” Move into the private sector and collect a fat paycheck from Wall Street, naturally. Following in the footsteps of some of the other top tier public sector cronies looking to cash out after doing their best to destroy the Republic, such as Banana Ben Bernanke collecting $250,000 per speech and Turbo Tax Timmy Geithner hopping over to private equity giant Warburg Pincus, Mr. Alexander is in good crooked company.
So what is Mr. Alexander charging for his expertise? He’s looking for $1 million per month. Yes, you read that right. That’s the rate that his firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., pitched to Wall Street’s largest lobbying group the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), which ultimately negotiated it down to a mere $600,000 a month.
As if Mr. Alexander plowing right through the revolving door to earn $1 million per month from Wall Street less than a year after being at the center of perhaps the most expansive government violation of the Constitution in U.S. history wasn’t bad enough, he is now hiring top people still working at the NSA to concurrently work at his cyber-security firm. I wish I was making this up.
Reuters reports that:
(Reuters) – The U.S. National Security Agency has launched an internal review of a senior official’s part-time work for a private venture started by former NSA director Keith Alexander that raises questions over the blurring of lines between government and business.
Under the arrangement, which was confirmed by Alexander and current intelligence officials, NSA’s Chief Technical Officer, Patrick Dowd, is allowed to work up to 20 hours a week at IronNet Cybersecurity Inc, the private firm led by Alexander, a retired Army general and his former boss.
The arrangement was approved by top NSA managers, current and former officials said. It does not appear to break any laws and it could not be determined whether Dowd has actually begun working for Alexander, who retired from the NSA in March.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials, some of whom requested anonymity to discuss personnel matters, said they could not recall a previous instance in which a high-ranking U.S. intelligence official was allowed to concurrently work for a private-sector firm.
Alexander, who was the eavesdropping and code-breaking agency’s longest-serving director, confirmed the arrangement with Dowd in an interview with Reuters. He said he understood it had been approved by all the necessary government authorities, and that IronNet Cybersecurity, not the government, would pay for Dowd’s time spent with the firm.
As if the entity paying Dowd for his time spent at the firm is the issue. Alexander is the definition of the word creep.
Dowd, he said, wanted to join IronNet, and the deal was devised as a way to keep Dowd’s technological expertise at least partly within the U.S. government, rather than losing him permanently to the private sector.
Oh I get it now. America has become so hopelessly corrupt, that the revolving door itself is becoming too much of a headache. So the solution is to just get rid of it completely.
“I wanted Pat to stay at NSA. He wanted to come on board,” Alexander said.
Alexander and Dowd have jointly filed patents based on technology they developed while at the NSA.
“If it isn’t structured very carefully, this runs the risk of conflict of interest and disclosure of national secrets,” Rothstein said. “It is a situation that in the interests of good government should be avoided unless there’s some very strong reason to do it.”
So Americans aren’t entitled to any privacy because of a trumped up terrorist threat, yet top NSA employees can moonlight for private businesses involved in the same areas as the NSA with apparently no threat to national security. America has gone completely insane.
Unsurprisingly, this is just the tip of the crony-capitalist fraud that the NSA has become. In fact, Buzzfeed broke a related story recently. It reports how one of the most powerful individuals at the NSA, Teresa H. Shea., has several intelligence related businesses run from her home. She is the registered agent for one of them, her husband holds that position for the other.
Teresa Shea is the director of Signals Intelligence, or SIGINT, which refers to all electronic eavesdropping and interception, including the controversial domestic surveillance program that collects information about Americans’ phone use. Naturally, no one is commenting.
On a quiet street in Ellicott City, Maryland, a blue-grey two-story clapboard house, set back from the road, is shaded by two sycamores and a towering maple. It’s the unassuming home of one of the National Security Agency’s most powerful officials, Teresa H. Shea.
In September, BuzzFeed News disclosed a potential conflict of interest involving Shea, the director of Signals Intelligence. Called SIGINT in espionage jargon, it refers to all electronic eavesdropping and interception, including the controversial domestic surveillance program that collects information about Americans’ phone use.
As BuzzFeed News reported, there’s a private SIGINT consulting and contracting business based at Shea’s home in that quiet neighborhood. Shea’s husband, a business executive in the small but profitable SIGINT industry, is the resident agent for the firm, Telic Networks.
In addition, James Shea also works for a major SIGINT contracting firm, DRS Signal Solutions Inc., which appears to do SIGINT business with the NSA.
DRS declined to comment, and the NSA declined to answer questions related to the Sheas, Telic Networks, or DRS.
Now there’s a new wrinkle, which the NSA has also declined to discuss: Yet another company, apparently focused on the office and electronics business, is based at the Shea residence on that well-tended lot.
This company is called Oplnet LLC.
Teresa Shea, who has been at the NSA since 1984, is the company’s resident agent. The company’s articles of organization, signed by Teresa Shea, show that the firm was established in 1999 primarily “to buy, sell, rent and lease office and electronic equipment and related goods and services.” An attorney who also signed the document, Alan Engel, said he couldn’t comment on client matters.
Records show Oplnet does own a six-seat airplane, as well a condominium property with an assessed value of $275,000 in the resort town of Hilton Head, South Carolina.
This summer the NSA turned down a Freedom of Information Act request for Shea’s public financial disclosure form. The agency said that, unlike every other federal agency, it could withhold the disclosure because of a sweeping 1959 law that allows it to keep almost everything secret.
Go ahead and read that twice. Read it three times. Still think we live in a free country?
Financial disclosure forms are central to public monitoring of ethics and potential conflicts of interests by federal officials. Without that form, journalists or concerned citizens must comb through corporate incorporations, property records, UCC filings, and court records to learn about an official’s financial interests outside of office. Often, these documents are not online and are in offices scattered across different states.
Teresa Shea, as head of SIGINT, has defended the program in declarations in two federal court cases.
Her husband has been involved in SIGINT as a private contractor and engineer since at least 1990, when he set up a company called Sigtek Inc., which would get hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts with the federal government, according to a federal contracting database. On his LinkedIn page, James Shea says the company’s key markets included “Defense SIGINT.”
In 2010, Teresa Shea was appointed the director of all SIGINT at the NSA, after a period working in London. The same year, James Shea became vice president at a major SIGINT contracting firm, DRS Signal Solutions, a subsidiary of DRS Technologies.
As BuzzFeed reported in its first story on the Sheas, neither the NSA nor DRS will comment on whether the company has contracts with Teresa Shea’s directorate.
Asked if there was a conflict of interest, DRS spokesman Michael Mount said “I understand your story, and we’ll still decline to comment.” He said that when responding to BuzzFeed News about questions concerning James Shea, the company has coordinated with the NSA.
Matthew Aid, who has written a book about the NSA, The Secret Sentry, said it would be difficult to understand why Oplnet, this second home-based business, was set up by Ms. Shea, without knowing more.
But he adds that the fact that Shea’s husband works for a SIGINT contractor, and has a SIGINT related company at the couple’s home, is confounding.
“From a purely financial point of view, there’s so much potential of conflict of interest.”
“The fact that the NSA will not respond to your request raises in my mind a host of questions. If there was nothing there, they could have come back to you and said, ‘She’d been diligent. She’s in compliance.’ Then there’s no story. But they’ve said nothing. That to me is what could potential signal some problems.”
Welcome to the American Dream in 2014. Looks a lot like the Soviet Dream.