This is a lot of political maneuvering taking place in Washington as Trump’s new government begins to take shape. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and DNI James Clapper are urging President Obama to fire NSA Director ADM Rogers, ostensibly because he met President-elect Donald Trump about potentially taking over as the next DNI:
The news comes as Rogers is being considered by President-elect Donald Trump to be his nominee for director of national intelligence to replace Clapper as the official who oversees all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower. That caused consternation at senior levels of the administration, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal personnel matters.
The White House, Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. The NSA did not respond to requests for comment. Carter has concerns with Rogers’s performance, officials said. The driving force for Clapper, meanwhile, was the separation of leadership roles at the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, and his stance that the NSA should be headed by a civilian.
Personally, I find the idea of separating the NSA and US Cyber Command smart. The NSA is too secretive to truly allow Cyber Command to pursue its mission of adequately defending the US military networks. NSA is far more interested in observing nation state breaches, and allowing the compromise to continue while they collect intelligence on actor TTP’s, than they are in helping prevent the same attacks.
It is a tough position to be in because both intelligence collection and cyber defense are important. However, the latter is far more important in ensuring our sensitive data is not stolen by our adversaries.