- by theguardian
- 30 Nov 2022
A former senior CIA official who was recently appointed by Joe Biden to an intelligence advisory board previously served as a key adviser to NSO Group, where he vetted deals for the Israeli spyware company and voted on whether sales of the controversial hacking tools could proceed.
Bash is believed to have served as an adviser to NSO, through a parent company called Q Cyber, from about 2017 to 2020, but his firm declined to confirm the dates. He had previously worked as a chief of staff at the CIA and the US Department of Defense under Leon Panetta.
NSO does not publish the identities of its government clients but the Guardian and others have reported on the hacking software being used extensively in the past in countries such as Mexico, India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Rwanda.
Bash co-founded Beacon Global Strategies in 2013 after working for Panetta and earlier serving as counsel to the now-retired congresswoman Jane Harman when she was the head of the House permanent select committee on intelligence.
He was one of about eight members of the BEC, who would vet highly confidential requests from government agencies to buy a licence to access Pegasus. The identity of the members of the BEC was also a tightly held secret.
The BEC was ultimately unwound after another private equity company, called Novalpina, acquired NSO and revamped its ethics policies.
NSO has said that its hacking software is meant to be used only by government clients to stop serious crime such as terrorism. It has also said it investigates cases of misuse by clients. NSO did not respond to a request for comment.