A top U.S. intelligence official is being considered to take over for the very man who recommended his removal from office for administrative failures.
Admiral Michael S. Rogers, director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command, is expected to become the Director of National Intelligence under the next administration, the Wall Street Journal revealed. In an unprecedented move, Rogers met with President-elect Donald Trump Thursday at Trump Tower without first notifying his superiors, reports the Washington Post. Rogers’ actions reportedly agitated senior administration officials already displeased with his performance and leadership.
Current Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter recommended last month that the White House relieve Rogers of his duties as head of the NSA and Cyber Command, the Washington Post reported Saturday. Clapper and Carter have criticized Rogers’ performance in the past, citing serious security breaches as well as a failure to react to the online activities of the Islamic State (ISIS).
Rogers took control of the NSA and Cyber Command in 2014 in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks, a glaring embarrassment to the agency that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and required major operational adjustments. Rogers was tasked with preventing follow-up incidents but was unsuccessful.
Two security breaches have occurred on his watch. A Tailored Access Operations (TAO) employee, who has since been arrested, was caught stealing classified agency materials last summer. Booz Allen Hamilton contractor and TAO employee Harold T. Martin III was arrested in August 2016 for stealing sensitive materials from the agency in one of the largest thefts of classified government documents and agency tools in U.S. history. The two cases have raised a number of questions about the NSA’s handling of America’s most sensitive national security secrets.
“[Rogers] has been at the helm of the NSA at the time of some of the most egregious security breaches,” a senior administration official told the Washington Post. “I think there’s a compelling case that can be made that some of the safeguards that should have been put in place were either not fully put in place or not implemented properly.”
In engaging ISIS, Cyber Command has reportedly had limited success against the terrorist organization. Only recently was this division able to disrupt ISIS networks. The division’s inability to adequately address this threat have exacerbated dissatisfaction with Rogers’ leadership.
Rogers was expected to be removed as the head of the NSA and Cyber Command before the elections, and the two divisions were to be split and put under separate leadership. Agency restructuring has, however, faced opposition, leading to delays.
In the meantime, Rogers appears to be attempting to secure a new position. If he becomes the director of National Intelligence, Rogers will oversee all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies.
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