Hagel Could Remove One of the NSA Chief’s Key Duties: Running Cyber Command

Officials are urging Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to divide power of Cyber Command and NSA operations.

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Officials are urging Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to divide power of Cyber Command and NSA operations.

The National Security Agency director's dual role exacerbates tension between the intelligence and military communities, former officials say. By Aliya Sternstein

Here’s a tough call for any person to make: An Air Force general conducting a drone strike on an Al Qaeda leader abroad overhears communications between the terrorist and his subordinates about a plot to blow up an American subway line. Does the general keep eavesdropping to identify the imperiled subway system or kill the high-value target?

This should not be one person’s call to make, but that’s exactly how it works today at the Defense Department’s National Security Agency.

Since 2010, one individual — the agency’s director – has had to decide whether to destroy adversary computer networks or continue spying on those networks. This is because NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander also leads Cyber Command, a Defense organization that attacks adversary computer systems.

With Alexander expected to depart by April, many former administration officials are urging a division of power. 

Read more on Nextgov.

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