Project Raven Raises Big Concerns

By Rhea Siers

Rhea Siers is the former Deputy Associate Director for Policy at NSA.  She currently works as a cybersecurity and national security consultant, attorney and educator and teaches at the Elliott School of International Affairs (George Washington University) and Johns Hopkins University.

It’s difficult to feel anything other than disappointment after reading Reuter’s investigation of activities by a U.S. contractor in the UAE.  The allegations that former NSA analysts working for a private U.S. contractor may have aided in the surveillance of U.S. citizens raises troubling issues about the activities of private contractors and the lines that may have been crossed in executing intelligence collection on behalf of a foreign intelligence service.

The involvement of U.S. contractors providing intelligence and other assistance to foreign governments and intelligence services is not a new development; there are numerous existing legal contracts governed by U.S. export control regulations that operate in clearly defined areas of products and services.  When does the testing of equipment or the training of foreign clients cross into the gray zone of executing or directly enabling actual intelligence collection on their behalf?  And even worse, what if U.S. citizens, working on behalf of a foreign government, did engage in surveillance of U.S. persons at the behest of their employer?

“The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

Access all of The Cipher Brief’s national security-focused expert insight by becoming a Cipher Brief Subscriber+ Member.


Related Articles