Two congressional committees with oversight of the National Security Agency (NSA) — the House Homeland Security Committee and the House Intelligence Committee — are managed by former lobbyists for major NSA contractors.
Alex Manning, a senior lobbyist for IBM who specialized in cyber intelligence influence for the company, became a Staff Director for the Homeland Security Committee in January of last year. In August of last year, Darren Dick, a former lobbyist for EMC Corporation, was promoted to Staff Director for the House Intelligence Committee. In Congress, Staff Directors oversee committee matters, and are roughly equivalent to a chief of staff.
The chairmen of the committees, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), have led the attack on Edward Snowden, accusing the whistle-blower of endangering national security or worse. Both congressmen have shown little interest in Snowden’s revelations and related civil liberty concerns.
IBM reportedly works on a number of NSA-related and intelligence agency contracts for the government. The New York Times last year revealed that the NSA has tested IBM’s famed Watson artificial intelligence computing technology for its own data-collection purposes.
In December, Reuters reported that a subsidiary of EMC Corporation has collaborated with the NSA to provide the agency with a backdoor for accessing widely used encryption technology.
The revolving door has given corporate lobbyists the opportunity to take direct control of the legislative process: a Chevron lobbyist now helps manage the House Science Committee, a fracking lobbyist helps manage the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Northrop Grumman lobbyists hold key positions in both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.
Filed under: Congress