The Security Industry, West Point, and EthicsBy Donald Maye, Published Jul 16, 2021, 09:40am EDT
Attending the United States Military Academy at West Point you are taught repeatedly the importance of ethics, which I've strived to carry throughout my Army career and into the private sector.
Joining the security industry two years ago, seeing numerous companies with dubious ethics, even if a distinct minority, was surprising. I was even more surprised to find some of these companies endorsed by West Point graduates, especially because the bedrock of West Point is the Cadet Honor Code: "A Cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do":
Early this month, the NY Daily News reported on one of these companies: "Fraudster posed as four-star Army general while pitching gun-detection app to investors: feds":
A fraudster who fled South African authorities posed as a retired four-star U.S. Army general while pitching venture capital firms on investments in his firearm-detection app, prosecutors say.
In this case, the US Government alleges the company's CEO pretended to be a four-star general, which the NY Daily News reported as West Point graduate, and ex-CIA Director, David Petraeus.
a source familiar with the case identified as ex-CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus — while soliciting money from two venture capital firms, according to a criminal complaint
Featured in the article was James Gagliano, a retired FBI agent, fellow West Point graduate, and Mayor of Cornwall-on-Hudson.
Gagliano was an advisor and endorser of this company. For example, he published this LinkedIn article [archived here] 11 months ago, which was deleted after he was contacted by the News earlier this month.
Upon learning of the charges, the News described Gagliano as "surprised by the wire fraud conspiracy and identity theft charges."
Gagliano told the NY Daily News:
I’m disheartened and disillusioned that he didn’t tell me when this complaint was filed
I’m severing all ties.
The NY Daily News concluded its report by highlighting Gagliano's 25 years at the FBI:
“I did believe in this product. And I did believe what Barry was selling. This was gonna make things safer for people on the frontlines,” said Gagliano, who retired after a 25-year career at the FBI.
Based on this reporting, I reached out to Gagliano to learn more about his statements, sending two emails over the course of three days:
Good afternoon. I'm Don Maye from IPVM. I'm also a '07 WP grad. I plan on publishing a report next week examing the problem of WP graduates and former government officials giving credibility to security companies making dubious and unsupported claims, which the Nydailynews covered. The concern is that this harms the public who looks at leaders like WP graduates as validating those companies. Are you able to provide a comment or discuss on a call?
Are you willing to address the concern raised below? I would like to include feedback directly from you - as you indicated to the NYDailynews you were "disheartened" and "disillusioned" - which I'd like to better understand. I appreciate a response by the end of day Friday, July 16th at 5pm ET. I'm also happy to chat on call.
Gagliano responded at length:
Mr. Maye --
We don't know one another, do we? As fellow West Pointers, I default to how I would address someone 20 years my senior (class of '67) and I'd address them accordingly, as "sir" or "Mr." You're c/o 2007, no? Do we know one another? Have we, perchance, met? Don't believe so.
But, here we are.
I researched you. That's what 25-year FBI guys do. You spent 5+ years in the US Army and then some short time in the private sector after your MBA with (Bayer? Aleve?) before entering into the "security" industry with IPVM -- a company I have never heard of. And now, you're a "journalist?" Just trying to sort out WHO you are and just WHAT you represent. So you know -- as you are writing about the security industry -- I spent 25 years in the FBI and the past 6 years, I've been working on a Homeland Security doctorate at St. John's University in Queens, New York, focused on -- wait for it -- police use of force. Google me, Mr. Maye. Was a salaried Law Enforcement Analyst with CNN for 4 years. My opinions on security matters were taken seriously, Mr. Maye, because I had served within the realm as a practitioner -- again, check out my BIO -- and because I was an academic on the subject, as well. I read your smarmy first reachout to me about your potential article "exposing" West Pointers or law enforcement professionals who happened to support a particular security industry product. I wanted to ignore it. That's what I typically do with folks like you. Affording you "oxygen" as you attempt to make a name for yourself in the "IPVM world" isn't something I'd ever do -- akin to responding to trolls on Twitter (I'm @JamesAGagliano on Twitter). But, then, alas, here we are, Mr. Maye.
You have badgered me twice. I won't answer any of your questions, Mr. Maye -- wouldn't refer to you as "Donald"," because we do not know one another -- unless it is on video, so you cannot edit our conversation. I do not believe that you would care to discuss these topics with me on camera, because they are not within your area of expertise. Or, are they, Mr. Maye? Edify me? What, exactly, is your area of expertise?
I'll be at ISC West. [Note: Gagliano is keynoting ISC West 2021 Day 2 next Tuesday.] Please, come up and introduce yourself to me. The NY Daily News article you referenced contains the only OTR quotes you'll receive from me at this juncture. I cannot fathom how we could set up a sitdown for an interview -- because that requires trust, my dude, and we do not have that. Agreed? Next time you reach out to someone when you are under the auspices of a journalist and a junior Academy graduate -- exhibit a modicum of respect, okay? Cool? Cool. CC'd my wife (and attorney), and the folks I'm contracted with at ISC West. Will I see you there?
Take care, Mr. Maye.
James A. "Jimmy" Gagliano
Working in the security industry is a profession that impacts the safety and wellbeing of the public. It is why my two years in the industry have been so rewarding. In the past year, my reporting at IPVM was featured in the MilitaryTimes, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, and Reuters - raising issues to the public that would be otherwise hidden.
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs Responds To IPVM Investigation
- US Government Purchases of Dahua and Hikvision Mapped
- Chinese surveillance firm builds influence in Washington, with help from former members of Congress
- Russian Face Rec Suppliers Offer Ethnicity Analytics, Raising Alarm
Donald Maye is a former active-duty U.S. Army Officer and 2007 graduate of the United States Military Academy
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