Yesterday, the Trump transition team announced that it has selected Admiral Mike Rogers, current head of the NSA, to be Director of National Intelligence to succeed the seriously butt-hurt James Clapper. Now it turns out that the Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, and Clapper are are trying to fire him.
The heads of the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed.
The recommendation, delivered to the White House last month, was made by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., according to several U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
Action has been delayed, some administration officials said, because relieving Rogers of his duties is tied to another controversial recommendation: to create separate chains of command at the NSA and the military’s cyberwarfare unit, a recommendation by Clapper and Carter that has been stalled because of other issues.
The news comes as Rogers is being considered by President-Elect Donald Trump to be his nominee for DNI, replacing 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 belief that the NSA should be headed by a civilian.
One of the most bizarre things is them blaming Rogers for poor internal security at the NSA.
Rogers, 57, took the helm of the NSA and Cyber Command in April 2014 in the wake of revelations by a former intelligence contractor of broad surveillance activities that shook public confidence in the agency. The contractor, Edward Snowden, had secretly downloaded vast amounts of digital documents that he shared with a handful of journalists. His disclosures prompted debate over the proper scale of surveillance and led to some reforms.
But they also were a black eye for an agency that prides itself on having the most skilled hackers and cybersecurity professionals in government. Rogers was charged with making sure another insider breach never happened again.
Instead, in the past year and a half, officials have discovered two major compromises of sensitive hacking tools by personnel working at the NSA’s premier hacking unit: the Tailored Access Organization. One involved a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor, Harold T. Martin III, who is accused of carrying out the largest theft of classified government material ever. Although some of his activity took place before Rogers arrived and at other agencies, some of it — including the breach of some of the most sensitive tools — continued on Rogers’s watch, the officials said.
Read this carefully. The breaches began BEFORE Rogers came to NSA. They were caught by NSA while Rogers was in charge. Ergo, Rogers is to blame, presumably for catching them and embarrassing the administration. This cockamamie mentality goes a long way towards explaining why counterintelligence is so screwed up under Obama.
It also looks like it was the realization that Clapper’s dream of a major reorganization of the NSA was never going to happen due to John McCain’s well-founded opposition and so Clapper is trying to grasp at any straw to fire Rogers.
Prediction. Obama is not going to fire Rogers. Rogers will become the DNI. Clapper will remain an ass.