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Jason Leopold Files Lawsuit Over NSA's Refusal To Release Keith Alexander's Financial Records

from the the-agency-is-just-so-used-to-saying-'no' dept

FOIA enthusiast Jason Leopold isn't going to sit back and let former NSA head Keith Alexander recede noisily into the background. Alexander's transition from spy-in-chief to $1 million-a-month rockstar security consultant to our nation's most easily-impressed banks is currently on everyone's minds. First off, how many state secrets is he selling? And just how many hacker-beating patents will he be filing for?

But while slipping loudly out the front door with a quick wave of the hand and an accidental admission that his long tenure at the NSA's helm has done nothing to beat back the terrorist horde, Alexander may have felt his move to the private sector would keep his financial records out of the public eye. Leopold, however, has just filed a lawsuit against the agency for its continued refusal to release these public records.
[S]ome 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.’"
As Daniel Stuckey at Vice points out, the NSA is the lone holdout when it comes to financial records. Even the CIA and the ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) have made these documents available. But the NSA wants to hold onto Alexander's records even though there's no established legal reason for doing so.

Notably, this is not a FOIA request. This is a document that can be requested by any member of the public simply by filling out a form. These financial disclosures are to be made public under the stipulations of the Ethics in Government Act (EGA) of 1978. But the NSA has held the (now former) agency head above the requirements of this law, even though there's nothing in the law that indicates the agency is outside of its jurisdiction. Obviously, Alexander's departure for the private sector raises questions about his prior connections to companies that may have benefited from expanding surveillance programs or may be potential purchasers of his $1 million/month protection plan. These are questions that need answers, and the NSA is arbitrarily withholding mandatory financial disclosures. If the White House has given the agency super-secret permission to ignore the stipulations of the EGA, hopefully Leopold's lawsuit will force that out into the open. If not, the NSA will need to start explaining why it's not being responsive, and it won't have the handy b(5) exemption [for FOIA requests only] to lean on.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2014 @ 9:52pm

    Misrepresentation NOT

    Even though they decry the $1,000,000,000 per month fee (they claim it is only $600,000 per month), I think is is OK to continue to call it the $1,000,000,000 per month extortion fee as there is no reasonable interpretation of current events whereby these new 'patents' cannot be interpreted as revealing national secrets and/or creating bogus claims to ability.

    What the actual fee number is, is irrelevant. What the claims of the ex-officio are; deserve an immense amount of scrutiny.

    There is some serious tap dancing a'goin on here.

    If lies could be quantified, we would be testing the potential limits of numbers that infinity cares not to deal with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2014 @ 11:31pm

    Maybe just the metadata then...

    Maybe just the metadata for his financial transactions would be enough, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Aug 2014 @ 11:39pm

      Re: Maybe just the metadata then...

      Makes perfect sense, after all, they're always saying that metadata can't be used to reveal any sensitive or private information, so surely they'd have no problem providing metadata on his financial transactions?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Eponymous Coward, 8 Aug 2014 @ 12:39am

    One aspect I haven't heard brought up:

    Wouldn't Alexander know of all the zero-day exploits the government has acquired, and as such also be able to advise how to patch such vulnerabilities without exposing the actual exploits (thus a sly workaround from revealing sources and methods).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2014 @ 2:05am

      Re: One aspect I haven't heard brought up:

      It would seem difficult since you will be able to "reverse engineer" the publically available patent and since the patents sources are to be made known too, it seems like a difficult task to achieve unless he gets to withold these things from public scrutiny.

      I think the guys past should preclude him from these kinds of things since he inevitably gets to expose things his former employer wouldn't like exposed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 8 Aug 2014 @ 5:58am

    Perfectly reasonable explanation..

    They don't release the records because they don't want us to find out how much he was milking the government for his "consulting fees"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Aug 2014 @ 8:48pm

      Re: Perfectly reasonable explanation..

      That should read "milking the public", or "milking the tax-payers", since he AND the Government are both sucking at that teat together.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2014 @ 8:15am

    Has anyone requested Hayden's or Chertoff's records.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 8 Aug 2014 @ 12:08pm

    It behooves a crook to avoid detection

    Most likely scenario:

    "Oops! It appears as though the entire file containing all of Mister Alexander's records, has been inadvertently lost due to a small error in accounting that has somehow erased everything pertaining to the years in question."

    The "reluctance" of the NSA to divulge the records of Alexander's private dealings during his employment by the Federal Government, tells us that there is indeed something that needs to be kept from the American Public at all costs.

    I suspect that the revelation these records would bring concerns a lot more than just Mister Alexander's dealings with various private companies while holding public office and in fact shows that the NSA itself regularly sells its services to the private corporate sector in return for both cash and favors in a manner that is normally illegal and which is definitely detrimental to National Security.

    I suspect that exposure would show that the NSA is more a tool of Mob-controlled Corporate America than of the US Government and not in any way at all, a tool of the American People.

    The revelations exposed by the release of Alexander's records would start a snowball effect as the demand for the release of the records of others such as Clapper, Hayden and Chertoff would ensue immediately thereafter and this would reveal the extent of the corruption of the NSA and the USG.

    If the White-Wash House thinks that losing the records won't float and has not yet created a special secret "NSA is Exempt from the law" ruling that prevents the NSA from releasing such information, you can bet your ass that The Most Transparent Administration In American History is secretly burning the midnight oil getting one in place ASAP.


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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