Ex-NSA Director Ends Questionable Business Deal With Senior NSA Official

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Former director of the National Security Agency Keith Alexander terminated a deal Tuesday to employ NSA’s current chief technology officer part-time at his private company, IronNet Cybersecurity, after officials cited the deal as a possible conflict of interest.

“While we understand we did everything right, I think there’s still enough issues out there that create problems for Dr. Dowd, for NSA, for my company,” Alexander said in a Tuesday Reuters report, announcing the deal’s termination.

The deal’s end comes days after NSA launched an internal investigation into the business relationship between Alexander and NSA CTO Patrick Dowd, who worked under Alexander until the ex-director’s retirement in March. Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, current and former U.S. intelligence officials warned the deal could be a conflict of interest between a private business and classified government work, as well as an example of favoritism toward Alexander.

Dowd, who will stay on at NSA according to Alexander, would have worked 20 hours a week for IronNet in addition to keeping his job at NSA. Agency officials had reportedly approved the deal before it came under scrutiny from groups including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which requested a copy of the internal review upon completion.

The agency did not comment on the termination of the deal Tuesday.

Alexander launched IronNet shortly after his retirement earlier this year, and the company already counts the financial industry’s biggest trade group among its consulting clients. (RELATED: This Is Why Ex-NSA Chief Keith Alexander Can Charge $1 Million A Month For Cyber-Security)

The former director has come under near-constant scrutiny since launching the company, with critics accusing Alexander of profiting from patents and information acquired during his long tenure in public service. (RELATED: Ex-NSA Head Keith Alexander Defends Million-Dollar Cyber-Security Consulting)

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