NSA official ends work for private security firm

A top National Security Agency official has suspended his part-time work for a new company amid public scrutiny over the potential conflict of interest.

Patrick Dowd, the NSA’s chief technical officer, will no longer be employed with former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander’s new cybersecurity startup.

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"While we understand we did everything right, I think there's still enough issues out there that create problems for Dr. Dowd, for NSA, for my company," Alexander told Reuters on Tuesday.

Last week, Reuters broke the news that Dowd had been allowed to work up to 20 hours a week at Alexander’s new company, IronNet Cybersecurity, while also putting in time at the NSA. Alexander said that the unusual situation was due to his desire to keep Dowd at the NSA and Dowd’s desire to continue working with his former boss.

The news caused immediate outrage from critics of the spy agency and prompted an internal review at the NSA.

An NSA spokeswoman at the time said that the agency “takes seriously ethics laws and regulations at all levels of the organization" but did not comment on the details of the arrangement.

IronNet Cybersecurity did not immediately respond to an inquiry from The Hill.

Alexander stepped down from the NSA earlier this year. His nine years atop the NSA included the most tumultuous time in its history, after leaks from Edward Snowden made the secretive Maryland-based agency a household name.

Alexander’s new firm has reportedly been seeking as much as $1 million per month to assist companies beef up their cyber protections.