What does this murder-mystery have to do with consulting, you might ask? Much interest has been generated lately regarding Wheeler's work as a consultant to the MITRE Corporation, a government-funded research center that works on national defense projects. Specifically, Wheeler was involved in cybersecurity work; he was a vocal critic of America's lack of cybersecurity infrastructure and a major force in the lobbying effort to mitigate the perceived crisis. The theory goes like this: Wheeler, a cybersecurity expert with top secret security clearance and a long history of high-level work at the Pentagon and White House, was targeted for what he knew. Conspiracy theory it may be, but it isn't ridiculous; shortly before his death Wheeler appeared drugged and confused to several witnesses, claiming that his briefcase was stolen in a spectacular robbery. ABC News is citing one ex- Air Force officer who claims that "A man with that experience, it could have been foul play to get some of the secrets he had."
As far as consulting is concerned, cybersecurity advisory is among the industry's most in-demand segments. With both governments and private companies facing increased pressure to protect themselves from potentially-damaging information leaks (WikiLeaks knows a thing or two about those), cybersecurity experts are cashing in. Accordingly, big firms like Ernst & Young, Deloitte, CSC and most of the other usual suspects have made concerted efforts to strengthen their cybersecurity units. Once again, the theory goes like this: cybersecurity information is among the world's most in-demand commodities, and Wheeler possessed unique insight into its use by the Pentagon, White House, and Army. Was Wheeler's information so invaluable, so in-demand that the world's darker forces conspired to access it at any cost?
These are but a few of the questions that continue to obscure the facts surrounding John Wheeler's death. His story has developed quite the following; now, widow Katherine Klyce isn't the only one offering speculation as to what actually happened around New Year's Day 2011. "Here's my take on it," read one comment on the USA Today article. "Wheeler was on the train heading home. He was robbed. He was also beaten and a blow to the head started a slow bleed in the brain." "Yeah—that's it," answered another sarcastically. "The old 'slow bleed in the brain'. You know? That's the ticket—you've heard about that medical affliction before. Right?"
We may never know what actually happened to longtime consultant and government insider John Wheeler. One thing is certain: for Klyce and the rest of the Wheeler family, the authorities' lack of progress is infuriating. "If you write anything, I hope you write that the cops just made our lives miserable," she told Slate. "We have released as much as we can release without jeopardizing the investigation," answered the Newark Police Department.
Read Part I here.
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