Amazon Hires Former NSA Director In Charge During Snowden Revelations

Amazon’s appointment of a former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) to its board of directors has raised a few eyebrows.

General Keith Alexander was the man in charge of the NSA and its activities when Edward Snowden blew the whistle of its mass data collection and surveillance programs in June 2013.

Last week the US Court of Appeals ruled the NSA surveillance program revealed by Snowden was unlawful.

Amazon appointment

But this did not deter Amazon, which revealed in an investor filing on Wednesday that former NSA director Gen. Keith Alexander has joined Amazon’s board.

Besides being head of the NSA during the Obama administration, Gen, Alexander was also the head of US Cyber Command.

Alexander retired in 2014 and went on to found the private cybersecurity firm IronNet.

But his appointment was noticed by Snowden.

“It turns out ‘Hey Alexa’ is short for ‘Hey Keith Alexander,’ tweeted Snowden. “Yes, the Keith Alexander personally responsible for the unlawful mass surveillance programs that caused a global scandal. And Amazon Web Services (AWS) host ~6 percent of all websites

And the former Guardian journalist, Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story of Snowden and the NSA surveillance programs, also took to Twitter to comment on the appointment.

“Gen. Keith Alexander was head of NSA when it secretly built a massive domestic surveillance system aimed at Americans – the one an appellate court just ruled likely illegal,” he tweeted. “Amazon just appointed him to its Board of Directors, again showing who they are.”

Hiring spree

Amazon has been on a hiring spree of late, and last week it revealed was hiring an extra 7,000 staff in the UK.

But over in the United States the firm faced questions after it apparently withdrew two job adverts for “intelligence analysts”.

Amazon was forced to deny the roles would entail spying on union activity within its workforce, even though under the ‘previous experience desired for the roles’, Amazon listed “officer in the intelligence community, the military, law enforcement, or a related global security role in the private sector.”

JEDI dispute

Amazon is also in the middle of a tense battle with the Pentagon, after it selected Microsoft Azure for the lucrative JEDI cloud contract.

Amazon filed a lawsuit and cited political interference by US President Donald Trump, but a Pentagon review this week reaffirmed its decision to give the contract to Microsoft.

Amazon said it would continue to protest the decision in federal court.

It is unclear at the time of writing whether Amazon hopes the appointment of General Alexander to Amazon’s board will aid in its dealings with the Pentagon going forward.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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