Obama officials want National Security Agency chief, possible Trump cabinet pick Mike Rogers fired

The U.S. government’s top military and intelligence leaders reportedly have recommended that President Barack Obama remove National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers from office. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) — National Security Agency director Adm. Mike Rogers, a potential pick for national intelligence director in the Trump administration, might be fired in the current Obama administration.

Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence community leaders want Rogers, 57, out because of perceived failures fighting the Islamic State and lax security, sources told NBC News. The New York Times and The Washington Post also reported President Barack Obama is considering removing the four-star general from his post.

Rogers met with President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday to discuss the job of director of national intelligence, a cabinet-level position overseeing 16 intelligence agencies.

The NSA is an intelligence agency but part of the Defense Department.

The White House, Pentagon and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and the current director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., recommended removing Rogers last month. The New York Times’ sources said the decision was not related to Trump’s interest in naming him.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of Trump’s transition team, has defended him. He wrote a letter to Carter and Clapper, asking them to testify before his committee to explain why they want Rogers removed.

“It’s not by accident that Admiral Rogers meets with the president-elect and two days later this story [in the Washington Post,] which is completely built on lies, appears,” Nunes said in an interview with The Times.

Rogers took command in April 2014 after the disclosure of widespread surveillance by Edward J. Snowden, the former NSA contractor. His work to prevent cyber-attacks was insufficient, sources told The Times.

Clapper has pushed for the separation of leadership roles at the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, and wants the NSA to be headed by a civilian.

As part of the reorganization, Rogers would be replaced before the Nov. 8 election, sources told The Washington Post.

“It was going to be part of a full package,” the official told the newspaper. “The idea was not for any kind of public firing.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, threatened to block any such nominee if the leadership at the NSA and Cyber Command were split.

Rogers, whose term is due to end in the spring, is aloof, frequently absent and does not listen to staff input, according to Washington Post sources.

Carter has not been happy with how he is handling the U.S. Cyber Command’s cyber-offensive against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.


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