Obama turns to cryptologist, IT pro to lead NSA
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday announced the president has accepted his recommendation to nominate Navy Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers to be the next director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S. Cyber Command.
“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. “A trained cryptologist, his Navy career spans 30 years. I am also confident that Adm. Rogers has the wisdom to help balance the demands of security, privacy, and liberty in our digital age.”
Rogers, a Chicago native, joined the Navy in 1981 and earned a commission as a surface warfare officer. He earned his designation as a cryptologist in 1986. Since then, he’s gone on to assume senior command positions throughout the Navy and the intelligence community, including commander of the U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and the director of intelligence for both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Pacific Command. He will replace Gen. Keith Alexander, who’s served as NSA director since 2005.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper praised the announcements, calling Rogers “a dedicated career intelligence officer who deeply understands signals intelligence and cyber operations.” Clapper added Rogers is “uniquely qualified” to lead NSA and U.S. Cyber Command.
In addition to Rogers, Rick Ledgett has been appointed to take over as NSA’s deputy director, the senior civilian leader at the agency. Ledgett was the first national intelligence manager for cyber at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and, like Rogers, has a distinguished background in signals intelligence. Ledgett takes over for Chris Inglis, who retired in January.
Ledgett caused an uproar in December, when he gave an interview to CBS’ “60 Minutes” during which he raised the possibility of granting clemency to Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked classified documents detailing NSA’s global surveillance capabilities. Although Ledgett said he would need assurances that the documents Snowden stole could be returned and secured, the Obama administration has distance itself from the remarks.