NSA Finally Releases Keith Alexander's Financial Disclosure Documents; National Security Remains Uncompromised

from the Jason-Leopold:-destroyer-of-nations dept

If Vice contributor Jason Leopold isn't careful, he'll kill us all. Back in August, Leopold requested Keith Alexander's financial statements -- something required of certain government officials by the Ethical Government Act (EGA) of 1978. The CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence both complied. Keith Alexander, via the NSA's refusal to turn over the documents, is the lone holdout.

The NSA claimed Alexander's financial statements were exempted from public disclosure by the National Security Agency Act of 1959. But the EGA overrides the NSA Act, unless the president himself has issued a waiver making Alexander exempt from these stipulations. President Obama hasn't, although the NSA's lawyer -- Shadey Brown -- implied that he had, by extension stating that releasing the information "would compromise the national interest," i.e., threaten national security, which is the only way to receive this presidential waiver.

Alexander has been given no such waiver. As a result of Leopold's lawsuit, the NSA has released Alexander's documents and will be turning over incoming NSA head Michael Rogers' as well. All in "the interest of transparency." "See how open we are!" the NSA shouts as it is sued into compliance. Forced transparency isn't really transparency, and these government agencies should really stop using that word in this highly misleading way.

The documents forced out of the NSA's hands are apparently linked to national security interests, so it's only a matter of time before terrorist attacks on Americans become as common as 4th Amendment violations and FOIA lawsuits.

What's contained in Alexander's financial statements are several investments in little-known tech firms. Both James Clapper and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers have looked over Alexander's investments and declared them to be completely free of conflicts of interest, but a look at some of Alexander's investments doesn't necessarily justify these unequivocal statements.
Alexander invested as much as $15,000 in: Pericom Semiconductor, a company that has designed technology for the closed-circuit television and video surveillance markets; RF Micro Devices designs, which manufactures high-performance radio frequency technology that is also used for surveillance; and Synchronoss Technologies, a cloud storage firm that provides a cloud platform to mobile phone carriers (the NSA has been accused of hacking into cloud storage providers).
In addition, RF Micro Devices secured nearly $13 million in R&D contracts from the US government between 2004 and 2010, with most of that money coming from the Defense Department. And while Pericom doesn't seem to have any direct contracts with the government, its products are (or were) used by Harris Corporation, the manufacturer of Stingray cell tower spoofers.

Then there's this:
Alexander also held shares in Datascension, Inc., a data gathering and research company. The Securities and Exchange Commission suspended trading in Datascension last August "due to a lack of current and accurate information" about the company. (Datascension was linked to telemarketing calls that apparently prompted one person in a complaint forum to remark the company is "trying to gain personal information.")
Alexander backs a bad company -- something that is probably just an indication that not even the most well-connected win every bet. With Alexander's initial investment appearing years before the company got smacked down by the SEC, this looks like not much more than somewhere the former NSA chief lost money.

What's included here may be slightly on the shady side, but Alexander's disclosures don't definitely point to wrongdoing. In fact, his financial disclosure sheets are nearly completely blank -- either a sign of clean living, or a case of conspicuousness in absence.

The most surprising thing isn't Alexander's investments. It's the fact that the NSA played hardball to protect nearly nothing of interest. Or perhaps it isn't surprising, considering the agency seems to believe it cannot release anything, no matter how minute, without somehow compromising its mission and the nation's security. Of course, considering how much has been disclosed without its permission, and the subsequent failure of the world's terrorists to turn the US into their personal playground, we know these phrases are largely empty and signify little more than the NSA's persistent allegiance to darkness and secrecy, even as it spouts (always) belated lip service to "transparency."

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  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 13 Oct 2014 @ 12:05pm

    Give them an inch

    Oh, sure. Today it's Alexander's self serving investments, but tomorrow it'll be the US' nucular launch codes. And then where will you be, hippy?

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

  • identicon
    A Non-Mouse, 13 Oct 2014 @ 12:26pm

    What's in a name?

    "...the NSA's lawyer -- Shadey Brown..."

    Thanks for that, I just spit coffee all over my desk. Might have peed a little, too. So is Atty. Brown from the law firm of Dewey, Cheatum, & Howe?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2014 @ 12:47pm

    Even if there is no corruption present in these investments it's also the 'appearance' of corruption which is equally important...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2014 @ 1:17pm

    Maybe they just needed time to clean up his files?

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

  • icon
    John William Nelson (profile), 13 Oct 2014 @ 1:23pm

    Shadey Brown: Best name for a government lawyer!

    The government lawyer's name is "Shadey Brown?" Really? You're not pulling our legs?

    Only makes the story that more amusing.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2014 @ 11:11pm

      Re: Shadey Brown: Best name for a government lawyer!

      It actually reads like an Onion article.

      Well, we knew reality had a layered bias, but wow...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Oct 2014 @ 6:37pm

    If it is national security to protect the rich and corrupt what hope does the average American have for his interests to be protected by those that take responsibility for protecting every American.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2014 @ 1:58am

    So, it looks like it was just another case of NSA paranoia and over-classification. Huh. Y'know, same thing is probably true in a lot of cases -- they're not actually up to all the nefarious things we were led to suspect. All that secrecy has just been causing us on the outside to let our fears get the best of us.

    Waaait a second...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Oct 2014 @ 6:07am

    ...the agency seems to believe it cannot release anything, no matter how minute, without somehow compromising its mission and the nation's security.


    They know how much you can learn from small pieces of information, so of course they want to give nothing out. Us plebs should hand over everything though, obviously.

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

  • identicon
    Just Another Anonymous a Troll, 14 Oct 2014 @ 8:24am

    *sound of terrorist nukes not going off*

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


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