Michael Rogers Nominated to Lead NSA Amidst Agency Controversy


The National Security Agency, overwhelmed in controversy about its telecom surveillance methods, has a possible new leader. President Barack Obama will nominate Vice Admiral Michael Rogers to head the NSA after being the U.S. Navy’s head of the Fleet Cyber Command.

He replaces Gen. Keith Alexander, who has been in charge of the NSA since 2005 and will retire in March. The appointment will need to be approved by the Senate, where questions about surveillance methods will likely plague the nomination.

Of particular concern is the NSA's phone metadata collection program – which Obama wants to restrict. Many U.S. and foreign leaders complain his efforts fail to go far enough. Revelations about the NSA methods were made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is now living in Russia, but leaked many classified documents before he fled.

News of the nomination was announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. "This is a critical time for the NSA, and Vice Adm. Rogers would bring extraordinary and unique qualifications to this position as the agency continues its vital mission and implements President Obama's reforms," Hagel said in a statement.

Earlier, Rogers – who has served in the Navy for 30 years – was director of intelligence for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and intelligence director for the head of the U.S. Pacific Command. The Wall Street Journal reported that Rogers is, “considered an expert on China and its cyber activities.”

Rick Ledgett is expected to become deputy director of the NSA. He is the NSA’s chief operating officer. Rogers and Ledgett are seen by Obama as, "the right people to provide experienced and principled leadership for the NSA moving forward," Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman, was quoted by The Journal as saying.

“I am pleased that President Obama has accepted my recommendation to nominate Vice Admiral Michael Rogers as commander of U.S. Cyber Command,” Hagel said. “And I am delighted to designate him also as director of the National Security Agency. This is a critical time for the NSA, and Vice Adm. Rogers would bring extraordinary and unique qualifications to this position as the agency continues its vital mission and implements President Obama’s reforms.”

Despite calls for change, Obama wants to keep the current system in place where there is one official that leads both the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command as well as keep a military officer in the post.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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