Keith Alexander's Investments While At The NSA Included A Data Storage Provider For AT&T

from the watching-his-money-while-watching-the-nation dept

Keith Alexander's financial records -- sprung by Jason Leopold's lawsuit against the NSA and explored in depth by Shane Harris -- continue to point towards more questionable behavior on the part of the former NSA director.

Harris more closely examines Alexander's financial involvement with Synchronoss, a company that provides cloud storage services to mobile phone providers.

In 2008, Alexander bought and sold tens of thousands of dollars in stock in a company called Synchronoss Technologies Inc., based in Bridgewater Township, N.J., according to the retired Army general’s financial-disclosure forms. You’ve probably never heard of Synchronoss, but, like the NSA, it probably knows who you are. If you’ve ever activated a new iPhone or synced your personal information across multiple devices—such as your phone, and your home and office computer—there’s a chance that Synchronoss’s technology helped make it happen. The company’s customers are some of the largest telecommunications service providers in the world—including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable—along with their more than 3 billion mobile subscribers.
More to the point, Synchronoss provided the tech that "locked" iPhones to AT&T's network back when the iPhone was an AT&T exclusive. It was during this period of time that Alexander was investing in the company, basically putting a single step between him and the service provider his agency enjoyed a very comfortable relationship with.
Under secret court orders, the agency was then hoovering up the phone records of AT&T’s subscribers and pouring them into a database of who called whom in the United States, stretching back several years. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the NSA also had secretly installed communications surveillance equipment in some of AT&T’s offices, under orders from President George W. Bush.
The NSA has only provided records dating back to 2008, at which point Alexander already had between $15,000 and $50,000 invested in Synchronoss. 2008 was a turning point for Synchronoss, which saw its surefire moneymaker heading down the tubes as iPhone buyers began jailbreaking their devices and freeing them from AT&T's network. Harris notes that Alexander picked up more Synchronoss stock when its price slid following its announcement of lowered future expectations and had cashed out completely by 2009, making less than $200 from stock sales during this time period.

But what's not shown is Alexander's pre-2008 investments, which would include the lucrative debut of the iPhone (2007). Those are likely gone forever, thanks to limitations of what must be disclosed by these mandatory documents. (Agencies only need to provide the last 5 years of documentation.) What the documents do show is that the NSA had no problem with Alexander being one step removed from one of the NSA's most willing "providers," something that should have been examined more closely by the agency's internal ethics watchdogs.

Now that Alexander is in the private sector, he has to work harder to trip "conflict of interest" sensors. And yet, trip them he has… multiple times. Whether this is an indication that Alexander is no more prepared for the freedom of the "real word" than an ex-con who's just spent multiple decades behind bars or an indication that the former director's moral compass has always been just a bit off remains to be seen. But everything observed so far seems to point to the continuation of the "above the law" attitude the intelligence community projected for so many years. More than a year into this Snowden-activated era of forced transparency, officials are still showing how easily they burn when exposed to sunlight.

Filed Under: investments, keith alexander, surveillance
Companies: at&t, synchronoss technologies


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2014 @ 1:15pm

    How the hell is any of this legal?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2014 @ 1:51pm

      Re:

      How the hell is any of this legal?
      It's okay. He's one of the good guys. Good guys are allowed to break the law. After all, the ends justifies the means.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2014 @ 1:27pm

    So, Alexander was directly profiting from terrorism.

    Gotcha.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2014 @ 1:43pm

    It should be noted that many others in positions of the same or more power most definitely have their hands in the same cookie jar, look at Cheney and black water, so much corruption.

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

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 6 Nov 2014 @ 1:47pm

    Whether this is an indication that Alexander is no more prepared for the freedom of the "real word" than an ex-con who's just spent multiple decades behind bars or an indication that the former director's moral compass has always been just a bit off remains to be seen.

    You call a compass that points due east "just a bit off"? Master of understatement here...

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

  • identicon
    Digitari, 6 Nov 2014 @ 3:54pm

    Safety

    The safety of the american public is directly proportionate to Alexander's bank account. (and he has ALL the dirt on everyone in government)

    Cause Money is "free" speech and Corporations are People!

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

  • identicon
    FM Hilton, 6 Nov 2014 @ 8:23pm

    Legal be damned

    No, it's not quite illegal, but it's certainly ethically wrong to be profiting from some inside information. I don't know if there are laws that the government (if it dares..) to use against Alexander, but if there is a bold prosecutor, he'd probably be jumping up and down for joy.

    However, there is no such person, and nobody would dare haul the former chief of the NSA into court..you know the reason, of course:
    "National Security".

    That'll keep it out. Good luck in civil court, too. Same reasoning will be used, and the case will be thrown out.

    Mark my words.

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

  • identicon
    reagg, 4 Jan 2015 @ 7:06am

    Real Gold Investment 200% Daily Interest For 20 Days
    RealGoldInvestment.net total paid for you 80% - 200% daily for 30 days,Total ROI 2400% - 6000% , and will send directly to your Perfect Money, Egopay or Bitcoin account. The minimum deposit is $200 and The maximum deposit is $100,000 . You may make additional deposits as many times as you like.
    http://www.realgoldinvestment.net

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

    • identicon
      Alain, 20 Jul 2015 @ 4:00pm

      Re:

      Gold IRA Knights offers a massive list of the top gold dealers in USA today,once get there you will discover the only comparison chart that shows exactly which gold dealers are among the top thirty leaders in the precious metals industry.http://www.goldiraknights.com

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.