Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson accused former National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander Wednesday of disclosing classified information to bank trade groups for monthly fees of up to $1,000,000.
During his tenure as NSA director, Alexander frequently expressed concern over the financial industry’s target value and susceptibility to cyber attacks, the viability of which pose serious national security threats. Since stepping down from the signals intelligence agency in March, the spy chief has taken his crusade directly to the nation’s biggest banks.
“It would be devastating if one of our major banks was hit, because they’re so interconnected,” Alexander said in Bloomberg last week.
Alexander has since begun negotiating with the Consumer Bankers Association, Financial Services Roundtable and Security Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) to act as a cybersecurity consultant for somewhere between $600,000 and $1,000,000 per month.
In a letter to the three trade groups addressed Wednesday and reported by the Huffington Post, Grayson alleged the only way Alexander could net such a fee is by revealing secrets learned while leading NSA at the behest of the federal government.
“Disclosing or misusing classified information for profit is, as Mr. Alexander well knows, a felony,” Grayson wrote. “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 that he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer to you.”
Grayson is one of numerous members of Congress to amp up their criticism and scrutiny of NSA and the intelligence community at large in the wake of leaked classified bulk surveillance programs by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
In a Guardian op-ed published in October of last year, Grayson said that despite his congressional security clearance, he learned more about government spying “from reading media reports” than congressional “‘intelligence briefings,’” and was “tired of spies telling lies.”
“The only time that these intelligence committees disclose classified information to us, your elected representatives, is when it serves the purposes of the ‘intelligence community.’”
In his inquiry into Alexander’s post-NSA activities, Grayson cited security expert Bruce Schneier, who was the first to speculate Alexander’s steep fee included intelligence secrets.
“Think of how much actual security they could buy with that $600K a month,” Schneier wrote in a Tuesday blog post. “Unless he’s giving them classified information.”
The Florida Democrat went on to ask the organizations to send “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 services industry for personal gain.”