Belmont Club

Two at One Blow

The New York Times reports that President Obama has nominated a new NSA director. “The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would nominate Vice Adm. Michael S. Rogers to become the new director of the National Security Agency and the commander of the new Pentagon unit that directs the country’s offensive cyberoperations, according to senior administration officials.” The Washington Post notes that “In an unusual move, Obama himself interviewed Rogers last week, in a reflection of the job’s high profile at a time when the NSA has drawn fire for the scope of its surveillance practices.”

That’s not all that’s unusual. It seems to represent one of the few times that both the NSA and the NSA Deputy have been replaced in the same year. In a paragraph a little further down in the NYT article it says: “The administration also intends to nominate Rick Ledgett to serve as deputy director of the N.S.A. Mr. Ledgett leads the agency’s Media Leaks Task Force, which has been assessing the damage done by Edward J. Snowden, the former agency contractor who obtained more than a million documents as a systems administrator in Hawaii.”

Wikipedia lists the tenures of NSA directors going back to 1952.

MG Ralph Canine 1952–1956
Lt Gen John Samford 1956–1960
VADM Laurence Frost 1960–1962
Lt Gen Gordon Blake 1962–1965
LTG Marshall Carter 1965–1969
VADM Noel Gayler 1969–1972
Lt Gen Samuel C. Phillips 1972–1973
Lt Gen Lew Allen 1973–1977
VADM Bobby Ray Inman 1977–1981
Lt Gen Lincoln Faurer 1981–1985
LTG William Odom 1985–1988
VADM William Studeman 1988–1992
VADM John M. McConnell 1992–1996
Lt Gen Kenneth Minihan 1996–1999
Lt Gen Michael Hayden 1999–2005
LTG/GEN Keith B. Alexander 2005-2014

Now let’s look at the tenures of the Deputy Directors as shown by Wikipedia, as shown below. The reader will have no difficulty noticing that the terms of the Directors and Deputies are separated by a year or so. This may be coincidental, but it might also be caused by a desire to maintain continuity within the NSA.

Joseph Wenger 1952–1953
John Ackerman 1953–1956
John A. Samford Jun-56
Deputy Director Term
Joseph H. Ream 1956-1957
H. T. Engstrom 1957-1958
Louis W. Tordella 1958-1974
Benson K. Buffham 1974–1978
Robert E. Drake 1978–1980
Ann Z. Caracristi 1980–1982
Robert E. Rich 1982–1986
Charles R. Lord 1986–1988
Gerald R. Young 1988–1990
Robert L. Prestel 1990–1994
William P. Crowell 1994–1997
Barbara A. McNamara 1997–2000
William B. Black, Jr. 2000–2006
John C. (Chris) Inglis 2006–2014

In 2014 the director and the deputy have been replaced at the same time. This suggests that the replacement of General Alexander is not entirely a routine event. But since the NSA is “no such agency”, then we are unlikely to be told why. My guess is that something out of the ordinary is happening, a shakeup of more than the normal scale. But it’s only a guess.


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