Entirely Coincidentally, NSA Signals Intelligence Director Moved To New Position After Conflicts Of Interest Were Exposed By Buzzfeed

from the that-thing-we-were-doing-anyway-but-just-not-until-right-now dept

The NSA's newly-developed concern for "optics" is being tested by employees both former and current. Keith Alexander, the NSA's longtime leading man, took his snooping show on the road, offering his expertise to banks for $1 million/month. But he couldn't leave it all behind, attempting to drag the current NSA CTO along with him by offering him an interesting -- but conflicting -- part-time position with IronNet Security. The NSA said, "That's fine." Then it said, "We're looking into it." Then it said nothing while Keith Alexander pulled the plug on the deal while simultaneously denying any sort of impropriety.

The story of Teresa Shea, SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) director for the NSA is even more convoluted and shady. Buzzfeed's Aram Roston has been digging into Shea and her husband's private ventures -- the latter of which at least appear to be direct beneficiaries of Teresa Shea's position.

The NSA has refused to comment on Shea's position and her husband's various SIGINT-related businesses, other than to point out how serious the agency is about ethics and possible conflicts of interest. So serious, in fact, that it refuses to discuss the issue beyond issuing boilerplate.

Now, Buzzfeed reports that Teresa Shea is no longer head of SIGINT, a decision surely entirely unrelated to Roston's investigatory efforts.
One of the nation’s top spies is leaving her position at the National Security Agency (NSA), a spokesman confirmed Friday, amid growing disclosures of possible conflicts of interest at the secretive agency…

The NSA provided a statement Friday that said Teresa Shea’s “transition” from the SIGINT director job was routine and “planned well before recent news articles.” The agency indicated she would remain employed, but did not provide specifics.
While this could mean that an ongoing internal ethics probe reached the same conclusions Roston's work did, it seems altogether too coincidental to have been "planned well before recent news articles." Then again, no one expects a federal spy agency to announce that "due to recent acts of journalism, Teresa Shea has been busted down to Entry Level Bulk Data Processor, pending further disciplinary action." But the agency doth seemingly protest too much, especially when its standard MO has been to brusquely shove aside every accusation with practiced ease.
In a statement Friday, NSA spokesman Michael Halbig said that “NSA considers regular rotations of senior leaders as a catalyst for achieving diverse, fresh perspectives on the nation’s critical national security challenges.” He added that “We value her leadership as a senior leader and look forward to her continued contribution to the mission to help defend the nation.”
Give it up, various NSA mouthpieces. This was a clean bust. I'm sure Shea was hoping to continue her run as head of SIGINT, something she probably finds more "invigorating" than whatever position she's been hastily shoved into while the agency waits for the ethically-troubling furor to die down.

This is a positive step, both for the agency and for the general public, which has been unofficially tasked with watching the watchers (including the watchers' watchers in the halls of Congress) over the past several years. Playing to the edges of ethical confines is no longer acceptable behavior. If the agency expects to be entrusted with the data and communications of the world, it needs to be above reproach on every observable level. This much has always been obvious to the agency's critics. That it's now readily apparent to the agency itself is a welcome change.

Filed Under: conflicts of interest, james shea, nsa, sigint, teresa shea


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Oct 2014 @ 4:48am

    LMFTFY

    NSA considers regular rotations of senior leaders, so that all of the corporate beneficiaries get their fair turn.

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

  • identicon
    Michael, 29 Oct 2014 @ 4:58am

    “NSA considers regular rotations of senior leaders as a catalyst for achieving diverse, fresh perspectives on the nation’s critical national security challenges.”

    Diapers should be changed regularly for the same reason.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2014 @ 4:58am

    "exposed by Buzzfeed"

    That phrase still seems foreign to me.

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

  • identicon
    David, 29 Oct 2014 @ 5:12am

    When will we hear the following?

    After extensive studies, we have come to the realization that the goals and operating methods of a secretly acting agency like the NSA do not allow for effective oversight mechanisms that would make sure that the precarious civil liberties potentially affected by its operation retain the protections guaranteed by the U.S. constitution. As a consequence, we will be shutting down its operation. Like with nuclear disarmament, the decision to do so is just the starting point of a large amount of work that is necessary in order to properly disarm all the devices that have been deployed worldwide and make sure that the weaknesses they exploited are closed.

    For that reason, we will continue employing a number of experts who designed the weapons we have deployed, in order to securely disarm those weapons and make sure that the weaknesses we made use of as well as any that may be discovered will be plugged, letting the U.S. strengthen rather than weaken the Internet and what it stands for.


    Yeah, I know. Probably we need to get a lot of other things like torture, plea deals, no due process, extrajudicial killings and abductions under wraps first in order to get back to getting considered a country helping rather than destroying civilization.

    But one may dream.

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

    • identicon
      Michael, 29 Oct 2014 @ 5:23am

      Re: When will we hear the following?

      It will read more like this:


      After extensive studies, REDACTED As a consequence, REDACTED the decision to do so is just the starting point of a REDACTED

      For that reason, we will continue employing a number of experts REDACTED letting the U.S. strengthen REDACTED the Internet REDACTED

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

  • icon
    andrew_duane (profile), 29 Oct 2014 @ 5:44am

    "If the agency expects to be entrusted with the data and communications of the world, it needs to be above reproach on every observable level."

    Of course, there are two ways to accomplish this:

    1) Actually be above reproach
    2) Limit the number of observable levels

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

  • identicon
    Stubing, 29 Oct 2014 @ 6:23am

    When Michael Halbig opens his hole and spews, "NSA considers regular rotations of senior leaders as a catalyst for achieving diverse, fresh perspectives on the nation’s critical national security challenges”, Michael Halbig needs to provide previous examples of said "regular rotation" - and just to be clear, regular rotations that don't coincide with accusations of impropriety.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2014 @ 11:12am

    "This is a positive step, both for the agency and for the general public, which has been unofficially tasked with watching the watchers (including the watchers' watchers in the halls of Congress) over the past several years."

    Tim, the public is *always* tasked with watching their government. The reason we're in this mess is precisely because the public has been almost completely derelict in their watchdog duties.

    Good rules of thumb when dealing with any government:

    -------

    You can't expect the government to watch themselves. That's akin to the farmer asking the wolf his opinion on whether they should have chicken for dinner.

    You can't expect the fourth estate to watch the government for you. They can be bought. They have their own agenda. They are often beholden to the government.

    You can't expect your neighbors to watch the government for you because your neighbors have their own agendas, and they might just be expecting you to watch the government for them.

    The only person you can expect to watch the government is yourself. And you better be sure you let everyone else know why watching the government is so important so they will tune in as well. Civics and history lessons are both key here.

    -------

    These are lessons the public has either never bothered to learn, or soon forgets once they overthrow an old regime for a new one. And this is why we keep repeating these cycles of revolution-clean slate-revolution.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 29 Oct 2014 @ 12:13pm

      Re:

      "The reason we're in this mess is precisely because the public has been almost completely derelict in their watchdog duties."

      Well that's hardly the only reason, but I do agree with the sentiment. However, when it comes to incredibly secret agencies like the NSA, oversight by the public is literally impossible, so it's hard to blame the public for not exerting oversight.

      It is an excellent argument for why the government should not be allowed to engage in such secrecy, though.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Sure it was planned for...

    Teresa Shea’s “transition” from the SIGINT director job was routine and “planned well before recent news articles.”


    I'm sure they have a very specific plan for transitioning people out of the limelight who become involved in a public investigation.

    But far beyond that, when I first heard of this incident, my reaction was "Hey... the NSA is using the CIA's playbook!" I'm assuming that Shea and her husband are both "officially" on the FBI payroll, and that all of these companies being run are means of creating layers of shells between NSA central operations and some of the stuff they don't want people to know they're involved in. Now that the cover's been blown, Shea pretty much has to be replaced by someone else, as her cover story would otherwise be under too much scrutiny.

    I'm sure they have to rotate people out of these positions all the time, and have backup jobs available for them when cover is blown.

    I do however wonder what happens to the contractors -- it might be worth watching Shea's husband to see what ends up happening with him now that the main operation has moved on....

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

  • identicon
    David, 4 Jan 2016 @ 10:06am

    I know her and her husband

    These 2 are a perfect match. Jim and Teresa are known crooks and deviants in D.C. They have been stealing from uncle sam for years and have been caught before. That's why he was let go from a previous job and could only find work overseas. At DRS, we all got an email from Jim Shea telling us to ignore the media and not to contact them regarding anything about him or his wife. Of course, this made us get on the internet and google him and then we started coming across articles about him and his wife stealing and cheating the NSA and tax payer. Then we say guys in suits come in the building and searching his office and his car. They were obviously Feds. This guy is goofy looking and is as crooked as his wife. No ethics. No patriotism. They are the real terrorists. I hope they rot in jail.

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


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