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POLITICS: PennAve

Navy admiral to be next NSA chief

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,National Security,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,NSA,Surveillance

President Obama has chosen Vice Adm. Michael Rogers to be the next director of the National Security Agency, which has faced public scrutiny over its mass collection of phone and internet data, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

The Defense Department said that Richard Ledgett has been appointed as the NSA deputy director. Ledgett currently serves as the agency's chief operating officer.

“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,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a statement.

“A trained cryptologist, his Navy career spans 30 years. As commander of the Navy's 10th Fleet and U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, he has already demonstrated his leadership and deep expertise in this critical domain,” Hagel added, touting Rogers’ experience. “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 would succeed retiring Gen. Keith Alexander, who ran the NSA for nearly nine years, including when it first initiated the controversial sweeping surveillance activities that have landed it in the middle of a domestic and international debate over the balance between personal privacy and national security.

Ledgett will replace Chris Inglis, who retired from the post in January.

“Ahead of General Alexander’s retirement in March and following Chris Inglis’ recent departure, the president believes Admiral Rogers and Rick Ledgett are the right people to provide experienced and principled leadership for the NSA moving forward, including in implementing the reforms he announced on January 17,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

Alexander is set to retire this spring after a turbulent year when the NSA's monitoring of phone and internet records was exposed by former agency contractor Edward Snowden, although Rogers' appointment could hasten his exit.

Rogers will also serve as the commander of a new Pentagon unit that directs the country's offensive cyberoperations.

He takes the helm after Obama responded to the furor over the extent of NSA spying with new reforms. Obama announced that the NSA would now need a secret court warrant to access collected phone data and called for an end to the government's storage of that information. The president also directed the NSA to stop spying on allied world leaders.

This story was published at 5:19 p.m. and has been updated.

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Susan Crabtree

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner