The Slatest

NSA Is Letting Its Chief Technical Officer Work 20 Hours a Week for a Private Company

Retired NSA chief Keith Alexander.

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking into a report by Reuters that the National Security Agency agreed to let its chief technical officer work 20 hours a week for a private company founded by the agency’s former director. The officer, Patrick Dowd, was approved to work part time for a company founded by retired general and former agency chief Keith Alexander called IronNet Cybersecurity Inc. That approval is now under internal review—and being questioned by the Senate Intelligence Committee and Florida Rep. Alan Grayson. (It’s not clear whether Dowd has begun working for IronNet yet.) From Reuters:

The Senate intelligence panel will not decide whether further action is necessary until after it has examined NSA’s internal review, said the congressional official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he would “request an investigation” of Dowd’s deal with Alexander’s firm.

Reuters reports that the arrangement apparently does not break any laws, though it does seem to present some obvious conflict-of-interest problems, not the least of which is that there are only so many hours in a week, and it seems a little strange to have someone with a major role at a criticial national security agency (which is so critical that it’s called the National Security Agency) spending 20 of them helping Home Depot protect its online customer accounts or what have you.