NSA Top Two Officials Retiring Isn't News, But Is An Opportunity To Reshape The Agency
from the but-that-won't-happen dept
There’s been some recent chatter over a Reuters report highlighting that both of the top two officials at the NSA, director Keith Alexander and deputy director Chris Inglis, are retiring in the next few months. Lots of people are misreading this, believing that this is something new, and suggesting that both were either pushed out, or are doing this in response to all of the Snowden revelations. That’s simply not true. Alexander’s retirement has been widely reported since at least June (and has been covered in a number of other publications as well). Both retirements were planned long ago, and appear to be exactly on schedule, rather than as any reaction to things happening in the news.
This is unfortunate, as it really does seem like there should be some punishment for the widespread excesses and abuses that have been revealed by Snowden. However, what is important to recognize is that this does present a real opportunity for the President to reshape the NSA. It seems unlikely that this will happen, but the President has said that he wants to rebuild the trust of Americans in the NSA and the wider intelligence community, and the choices he makes for who will lead the NSA are a real opportunity to at least take a step in that direction. No one actually expects him to, say, pick a civil liberties activist, but there are people out there who have experience in the intelligence community and who also have shown a respect and appreciation for privacy and civil liberties. Furthermore, finding someone who can present the case for reform — one which recognizes that “collect it all” is not just bad policy, but bad for actually finding useful information — would be a big step forward.