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Vice admiral to head US spy agency

Barack Obama has picked a vice admiral to head America's troubled National Security Agency at the centre of controversy over its secret surveillance programmes and massive phone and internet data collection.

Mike Rogers, head of the US Navy's Cyber Command and a former intelligence director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is being appointed to lead the NSA, defence secretary Chuck Hagel announced. He is also being nominated to get a fourth star and head US Cyber Command.

Vice Adm Rogers, who replaces army general Keith Alexander at the NSA, faces the challenge of revamping the way the agency collects and stores its data.

The NSA has been rocked by former analyst Edward Snowden's disclosures detailing widespread surveillance programmes that have swept up the phone records of hundreds of millions in the US.

Vice Adm Rogers has long been considered the heir apparent for the job. Mr Hagel said he was confident that he "has the wisdom to help balance the demands of security, privacy and liberty in our digital age".

"This is a critical time for the NSA and Vice Adm Rogers would bring extraordinary and unique qualifications to this position as the agency continues its vital mission and implements President Obama's reforms," Mr Hagel said.

Director of national intelligence James Clapper described Vice Adm Rogers as a dedicated intelligence officer "who deeply understands signals intelligence and cyber operations, which makes him uniquely qualified to lead the NSA and US Cyber Command missions".

Vice Adm Rogers' nomination to head Cyber Command requires US Senate confirmation. The NSA job does not, but it will undoubtedly come up at the Cyber Command hearing as politicians air their frustrations with the agency's data collection programme and demand that he lay out his vision for how the NSA will move forward.

The White House has said it intends to continue having one commander oversee the NSA and Cyber Command, despite suggestions that the jobs should be split due to concerns that the lines have blurred between the two powerful posts. Both jobs are based at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Mr Hagel also said he was appointing Rick Ledgett to be the NSA's deputy director, replacing Chris Inglis as the top civilian at the agency. Mr Ledgett, an NSA official, has been leading the task force assessing the damage from Mr Snowden's leaks.



From Belfast Telegraph