February 22, 2024

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The former head of the National Security Agency won a $700,000 Saudi consulting deal after Khashoggi’s death

Retired Army General Keith Alexander, who led the National Security Agency under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, was awarded $2 million. In consultation deals with foreign governments after leaving office, including a Newly released records show a $700,000 contract to advise Saudi Arabia on cyber security after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Alexander Consulting also won a $1.3 million contract from the government of Japan to advise on cyber issues, according to additional documents obtained by The Washington Post as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

Details of these lucrative contracts are among the records the Pentagon first disclosed about retired generals and admirals who have leveraged their military service over the past decade to obtain employment from foreign governments. The disclosure by the Pentagon came in response to the Washington Post lawsuit and demands from Congress, which has scheduled a hearing on the issue for Wednesday.

An investigation last year by The Post found that more than 500 retired US military personnel — including dozens of generals and admirals — had accepted employment from foreign governments, most as contractors in countries known for human rights abuses and political repression. Under federal law, retired service members must obtain permission before they can accept any compensation from foreign powers, for fear that such payments could compromise their loyalty to the United States. The US government withheld virtually all information about foreign jobs until The Post won a two-year legal battle with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and State Department.

The latest batch of records show that Alexander, who led the nation’s top intelligence agency from 2005 to 2014, reported the largest foreign compensation of any retired U.S. service member since 2012. The second-highest paid was retired Navy Vice Admiral William Hillarides, 63, who since 2016 won naval consulting contracts from The Australian government is worth up to $1.6 million, according to figures released last week by the Australian Department of Defense.

Hillarides has served as a key advisor to the Australian government for the past 18 months as it finalized a landmark deal with the United States and Britain to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. On Tuesday, Australia announced He was exploited by Hilarides For a new, high-profile assignment: to lead a review of the size and structure of the Australian Navy’s surface fleet.

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Hillarides paid the Australian government $4,000 a day for his consulting services, according to documents recently released by the US Navy in response to The Post’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Another retired US admiral appointed by the Australian government is charging more. Retired Admiral John Richardson, who headed the US Navy from 2015 to 2019, receives $5,000 a day as a part-time adviser to Australians, according to documents the Pentagon released to Congress last month.

Richardson was appointed in November to advise Australian defense officials during their negotiations to acquire top-secret nuclear submarine technology from the United States and Britain. Australian officials said he is working on a one-year contract, with an extension that the government can renew for another two years.

“I have spent most of my life helping to keep America and our allies and partners safe and sound,” Richardson told The Post on Monday. “It is an honor to be invited to be able to use my expertise, and help me as I can continue this work.”

Alexander, who declined interview requests, He is among 22 retired US generals and admirals who have secured consulting contracts and other business in the past decade from Saudi Arabia, according to records obtained by The Post and data disclosed by the Pentagon last month to Senator Charles E. ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Most are retired Personnel They worked as advisers to the Saudi Ministry of Defense, which was led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman until last year. According to US intelligence agencies, Mohammed approved the killing in 2018 of journalist Khashoggi, a Post columnist, as part of a brutal crackdown on dissent.

The oil-rich Saudis pay well. Retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, who was a national security adviser to Obama, reported in 2017 that he expected to make between $40,000 and $60,000 per month as an advisor to the Department of Defense, according to Freedom of Information Act documents released by the Marine Corps. 1 month to The Post.

Jones Group International, a consulting firm, has expanded its work since 2017 to Saudis and employs several retired US generals, who report receiving between $24,000 and $30,000 per month. Jones did not respond to a request for comment.

After The Post published its investigation, Grassley, Warren and other lawmakers lobbied in December Pentagon and State Department for more transparency, To demand records about retired military personnel working for foreign governments.

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On Wednesday, Warren is set to chair a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee hearing on the issue, and testimony is expected from Pentagon attorneys and other witnesses.

Prior to the hearing, Gilbert R. days. “It has to be [Defense] The administration remains vigilant to protect against foreign influence that could harm US interests,” he wrote last week in a note.

The Post’s investigation found that approval of foreign job applications is almost automatic. Of the more than 500 applications submitted between 2015 and 2021, about 95 percent were accepted.

Records show that the UAE has employed more retired US service personnel than any other country in the world, with 280 filling jobs as military contractors and advisors since 2015.

Among them is retired Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis, who served as a military advisor to the UAE before becoming President Donald Trump’s secretary of defense in 2017. Shortly after he resigned as Pentagon chief, Mattis secured federal permission to work with the Emiratis again. in 2019 so that he can give a speech in Abu Dhabi.

Mattis had previously stated through a spokesperson that he did not request or accept payment from the UAE government, other than for travel expenses, because of his “belief in the importance of ethical behavior” and his strong support for the US-UAE strategic partnership.

Mattis’ request for permission to deliver the Abu Dhabi speech, however, stated that he would receive a “standard fee” of $100,000, plus reimbursement for airfare and accommodations, according to documents the Marine Corps disclosed this month in response to The Post’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Asked for comment, Robert Terrier, co-CEO of the Cohen Group, the Washington consulting firm where Mattis is a senior advisor, reiterated Mattis’ statement that he did not accept compensation for the letter. He said Mattis included the honorary award figure of $100,000 in his application because he wanted a “more nuanced and detailed review” by the Marines and the State Department about his speaking engagement in the UAE.

The Saudis’ compensation for Alexander, the former director of the National Security Agency, was kept secret by the Pentagon. But she told the Senate last month that he had been paid $700,000 for the work.

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Records previously obtained by The Post show that Alexander’s consulting firm, IronNet Cybersecurity, signed a contract with the Saudis in July 2018 to develop Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s College for Cybersecurity. The State Department approved Alexander’s application to serve on the college’s board of advisors in January 2019, three months after Khashoggi’s murder.

IronNet said the company provided teaching and advisory services to SIC until the contract expired in 2020, but Alexander did not personally conduct any of the business or attend board meetings as originally planned. An IronNet spokeswoman declined to disclose the amount of revenue the company received. Alexander is the founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company. The Saudi Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Alexander also received federal approval in 2017 to serve as a consultant on cyber issues to the government of Japan. His request stated that his company would receive $1.3 million from the Ministry of Economy, Transport and Industry for Alexander to attend two consulting meetings and IronNet to provide an unspecified amount of cybersecurity training.

On October 2, 2018, Saudi agents killed Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. What was accomplished in the aftermath? (Video: Joyce Lee, Thomas Legro, Dalton Bennett, John Parks/The Washington Post)

Nancy Fizzioli, a spokeswoman for Iron Net, declined to comment on the company’s work or Alexander’s work for the Japanese government. She said that the Japanese government signed the contract with Ironnet and not Alexander in his personal capacity.

In addition, Alexander received federal permission to act as a cyber consultant to the government of Singapore, and received three separate consulting contracts worth more than $25,000, according to records.

The Japanese government also funded the $250,000 annual salary for retired Army Gen. H.R. McMaster to work at the Hudson Institute, a Washington-based think tank, records show. McMaster received federal approval to take over the position in 2019, a year after he stepped down as national security adviser in Trump’s White House.

In accordance with McMaster’s request, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a $500,000 grant to the Hudson Institute so that he could become the new head of the Japan Program. McMaster also reported that the Japanese government was considering giving the think tank a second grant of $500,000.

McMaster, the Hudson Institute and the Japanese Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.