NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander and his deputy, John Inglis, will step down in the next few months amid growing concerns and criticism over the intelligence agency’s surveillance programs, which have been used to collect data of Americans phone calls, Internet records, emails, and even their social media connections:
The director of the U.S. National Security Agency and his deputy are expected to depart in the coming months, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, in a development that could give President Barack Obama a chance to reshape the eavesdropping agency.
Army General Keith Alexander’s eight-year tenure was rocked this year by revelations contained in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s widespread scooping up of telephone, email and social-media data.
There has been no final decision on selecting Rogers to succeed Alexander, and other candidates may be considered, the officials said.
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said Alexander planned to leave office in the spring after three extensions to his tenure, and the process for picking his successor was still under way.
“This has nothing to do with media leaks, the decision for his retirement was made prior; an agreement was made with the (Secretary of Defense) and the Chairman for one more year - to March 2014,” Vines told Reuters in an email.
Though he isn’t as bad at his predecessor, Gen. Michael Hayden, Alexander’s exit is certainly welcome. Much like Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Alexander likely lied to Congress — at the very least, contradicted himself — about information in the NSA collects.
Alexander, who has served as direct of the NSA since 2005, believes the programs are necessary to prevent future attacks, but he has acknowledged that the number of foiled terror plots as a result of the surveillance has been incredibly inflated. In fact, he recently admitted that the programs had little, if anything, to do with discovering these plots. Nevertheless, he still defends them.
Some members of Congress — including Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) — are seeking to end the NSA’s bulk data collection, which would force intelligence agencies to prove that requests for data are related to an actual investigation into terrorist activity, rather than arbitrarily gathering data of innocent Americans.
Recent polling from Rasmussen Reports found that 53% of Americans don’t trust the government to ensure that the surveillance programs are legal. The poll also found that 49% oppose the programs, while just 34% support them.
As for Alexander, don’t let the doorknob hit you in the back on the way out.