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NSA Reviewing Official's Part-Time Private Work

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The National Security Agency is reviewing its decision to allow a top official to work part time for a cybersecurity firm that is pitching its services to the financial sector, the agency said on Friday.

NSA's chief technical officer, Patrick Dowd, was given permission to work up to 20 hours a week at IronNet Cybersecurity, a private firm. The company was founded by Keith Alexander, a retired Army general who used to run the NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command.

The arrangement raises a host of questions, because the NSA has access to classified information about cyberthreats.  IronNet expects to make "a lot" charging companies to protect them from such threats, Alexander told The Associated Press in August.

NSA said in a statement on Friday that the situation "is under internal review. While NSA does not comment on specific employees, NSA takes seriously ethics laws and regulations at all levels of the organization."

Alexander and Dowd--whose other title at NSA is "chief architect"--did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

This isn't the first time IronNet has raised eyebrows. When Alexander founded the company after he retired in March, he disclosed that the firm was developing as many as 10 patents for a new model of cybersecurity.  There were reports that he was charging financial sector firms $1 million a month.  He said that figure was high, but he declined to disclose the firm's fees.

Critics questioned Alexander's contention that he was not seeking to profit from his years of experience battling cyberthreats in the secret world of the NSA and cyber command.

Alexander spent nine years as NSA director, ended his career dealing with the stunning revelations of former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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