White House to Leave NSA, Cyber Commander Under Single Leader

Rejects Calls to Give NSA a Civilian Leader

Despite a solid year of massive scandals, Gen. Keith Alexander will not be the final military leader of the National Security Agency (NSA), as the Obama Administration has decided to keep the position combined with the head of the Cyber Command.

The decision is something of a surprise, as there had been considerable pressure on multiple fronts, arguing that the two ever-growing Internet spying agencies are too much for a single person, and the Pentagon’s concerns that a combined leadership was undermining their control had many believing it was a done deal.

Traditionally the NSA has been headed by a military official, but with the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the NSA now has oversight from a civilian office. Cyber Command, by contrast, is totally a military operation with no DNI oversight.

Two positions and two distinct chains of command is a complication, but there was also real concern that as the NSA scandal gets worse and worse, the Cyber Command, so far untouched by the growing scrutiny, could get swept up in the controversy as a result of both having the same leader. The administration seems determined to avoid making any real changes to the NSA as a result of the scandal, however, and that apparently means avoiding any public splits.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.