Congressman Alan Grayson made waves last week when he sent letters to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association(SIFMA), the Consumer Bankers Association, and the Financial Services Roundtable assailing former head of the NSA, Keith Alexander. In each letter Grayson cited a Bloomberg article that revealed that Alexander’s new consulting firm was commanding hefty fees of anywhere from $600K to $1 million per month.
Grayson reminded these organizations that General Alexander was in possession of classified material and that he should not be selling that information.
“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. With out the classified information that he acquired in his former position, he literally would have nothing to offer you.”
Those are strong words coming from a Congressman. They also indicate a lack of understanding of the IT security mindset. All consultants share valuable information every day on the job without revealing sources or clients. It is part of the job. I have worked closely with General Alexander’s predecessor and have seen him provide tremendous value to his clients without even hinting at classified information.
Are the astronomical fees that Bloomberg reports worth it? If Alexander actually moved the needle at these financial services organizations and got them to understand the level of threat they face, then yes, a million dollars is well worth it.
Could they get those same services for less? Yes, but whoever delivered the message would not carry the same weight of conviction as the man who led the building of the surveillance state, an endeavor that took advantage of an intelligence windfall that other nations and organizations are quickly recognizing and exploiting.
Alan Grayson is way off base. Alexander literally has much to offer.