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.