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Controversial Former NSA Director To Speak At Norwich Commencement

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler
DOD Photo
Keith Alexander, who stepped down as head of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, delivered remarks at his retirement ceremony at the National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., March 28, 2014.

Norwich University will host recently retired National Security Agency director Keith Alexander as commencement speaker this year.

Alexander served as the head of U.S. Army Cyber Command and the National Security Agency and oversaw the agency’s moves toward the bulk collection of millions of Americans’ phone records and online activity.

Alexander retired March 28 after 39 years in the Army, according to the Norwich University release. His departure came amid a continuing controversy about the NSA’s surveillance activities triggered by documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.

The retired four-star general has been the subject of much criticism since the NSA’s activities emerged in the press, and he’s listed alongside President Barack Obama as a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by Republican Senator Rand Paul over the surveillance.

Norwich has gained a national reputation in recent years for its work on cybersecurity issues, and “is recognized by the [NSA] and the Department of Homeland Security as a Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education,” according to the university website.

Last summer, Sen. Patrick Leahy – who has been critical of the NSA since the Snowden leaks emerged – attended a press conference to congratulate the university on a $9.9 million cybersecurity grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

University spokeswoman Daphne Larkin declined an interview request about the decision to bring on Alexander as commencement speaker, instead issuing the following statement:

General Alexander brings the wisdom that comes from a wealth of experience in leadership during tough times, and Norwich University is honored to host him as this year’s commencement speaker.

According to the release, Alexander's remarks will be streamed live online here on May 10.

Taylor was VPR's digital reporter from 2013 until 2017. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.
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