Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Former director of the NSA Keith Alexander speaking at his retirement ceremony. (Photo: flickr/cc/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

Former director of the NSA Keith Alexander speaking at his retirement ceremony. (Photo: flickr/cc/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff)

Former NSA Chief Will Work for Wall Street-backed 'Cyber War Council'

Keith Alexander slated to 'facilitate' government-industry effort to combat cyberattacks

Wall Street's largest trade group is proposing a government-industry coalition 'cyber war council'––and they've already snagged former NSA chief Keith Alexander to 'facilitate' that effort, according to a report in Bloomberg.

After Alexander's services were retained by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (Sifma), he managed to bring on Michael Chertoff, former head of the Department of Homeland Security, along with his firm Chertoff Group.

Alexander has reportedly pitched his services to multiple banking and trade organizations through his new consulting firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., for up to $1 million per month.

The Bloomberg report draws on information obtained from an internal document dated June 27 and reportedly reveals that Sifma is looking to put together a committee that would consist of representatives from eight different U.S. government agencies, including the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security, and be headed by a senior White House official.

According to Bloomberg:

The government-industry group would develop plans for “much quicker, near real-time” dissemination of information from agencies to the private sector and ways to “actively defend the industry” if preparations for a cyber attack are discovered in advance. Sifma is also seeking “pre-discussed and mutually understood protocols” for the industry to request government help during and after an attack.

Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) stated in an email to Bloomberg that he was worried that such a coalition sharing information in a 'near real-time' manner could lead to preemptive and possibly illegal attempts to thwart cyber attacks.

"Because of the murky nature of cybersecurity, I am concerned that a council like this might propose either physical attacks or cyberattacks by the U.S. military on the perceived source of the threats," Grayson said. “This could in effect make the banks part of what would begin to look like a war council.”

In a letter (pdf) to Sifma, Consumer Bankers Association, and the Financial Services Roundtable in late June, Grayson touted the opinion of security expert Bruce Schneier that Alexander's proposed fee to the three groups of between $600,000 and $1 million per month is "on its face unreasonable," unless "he's giving them classified information."

Liz Pierce, a spokewoman for Sifma, declined to comment on the contents of the document, but stated that the group “is doing everything possible to help the industry prepare for and defend against cyberattacks.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted on Tuesday to advance a bill aimed at boosting cooperation between government and private-sector cyber-defence efforts, including insulating banks from liability that might arise from the sharing of information for cybersecurity.

_____________________


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

'A Devastating Failure': Eviction Ban Expires as House Goes on Vacation and Biden Refuses to Act

"We’re now in an eviction emergency," said Rep. Cori Bush. "Eleven million are now at risk of losing their homes at any moment. The House needs to reconvene and put an end to this crisis."

Jake Johnson ·


With Election Days Away, Bernie Sanders Headlines Get-Out-the-Vote Rally for Nina Turner

In his keynote speech, Sanders said corporate interests are pulling out all the stops to defeat Turner because "they know that when she is elected, she is going to stand up and take them on in the fight for justice."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush, Pressley, and Omar Sleep Outside Capitol to Demand Extension of Eviction Moratorium

Rep. Cori Bush, who was formerly unhoused, slammed her Democratic colleagues who "chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes."

Jake Johnson ·


As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

"If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities, needlessly contributing to more death and destruction."

Brett Wilkins ·