Security

NSA chief said to leave by spring 2014

Above: NSA chief General Keith Alexander at Black Hat 2013

Image Credit: Meghan Kelly/VentureBeat

After a very dramatic year it looks like National Security Agency chief General Keith Alexander may leave his post.

Alexander is expected to depart the NSA in March or April, according to U.S. officials speaking anonymously with Reuters. He has served as the NSA chief for the last eight years, to only this year be swept up in a surveillance scandal spurred by one of his former contractors, Edward Snowden.

Over the last five months Edward Snowden has released a number of files he took from the NSA while working as a contractor through Booz Allen Hamilton. He first released information about a secret court order send to Verizon and then the bigger PRISM files that led to a wide-scale questioning of the U.S. government’s surveillance techniques.

Alexander has stood behind the measures, even speaking out at hacker- and Internet security-focused conferences such as Black Hat and Def Con to explain why the NSA does what it does. At this year’s Black Hat conference — only weeks after the PRISM reveal — Alexander spoke solemnly, citing how many terrorist attacks the NSA helped prevent using its spy programs (54) and tried to provide evidence as to the care with which it handles data.

However, he is likely to be met with hecklers everywhere he goes, including at Black Hat. People yelled, “Bullshit!” and “Read the constitution!” as he defended his agency.

His deputy, John C. Inglis, is said to be retiring at the end of the year as well. President Obama will have to fill these roles with the U.S. public watching — especially after promising more information about and a review of his surveillance methods.

Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, who serves with the Navy’s 10th Fleet, is said to be a candidate for Alexander’s job, according to Reuters, though no decisions have been made.

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