The chairman of the House intelligence committee want top administration officials to explain whether they are trying to oust the current head of the nation’s cyber force, the National Security Agency.
California GOP Rep. Devin Nunes is the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He sent a letter Saturday to the two men who lead the Pentagon and the nation’s coordinated intelligence agencies, asking them to explain why media reports claim administration officials are trying to oust Admiral Michael Rogers, who runs the nation’s combined cyberdefense and cyberwar agency.
Ashton Carter is the Secretary of Defense, and James Clapper is departing as director of national intelligence.
“Since Admiral Rogers was appointed as NSA Director in April 2014, I have been consistently impressed with his leadership and accomplishments,” wrote Nunes, who joined President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team on Nov. 11. “His professionalism, expertise, and deckplate leadership have been remarkable during an extremely challenging period for NSA. I know other members of Congress hold him in similarly high esteem.”
Nunes wrote to Carter and Clapper that he wanted a response from them by Monday at 5 p.m., with proposed dates for their testimony before his committee before the end of the year.
The letter comes after coordinated leaks produced anti-Rogers news in many media outlets.
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 New York Times reports that the leak to the Washington Post was a more personal feud than policy feud.
It also raises the question of why Mr. Obama would consider firing one of the nation’s top intelligence officers in the last days of his administration. Admiral Rogers’s replacement would not be confirmed until after Mr. Trump takes over. One senior intelligence official argued that letting word of the effort leak seemed more about politics or vengeance than about effecting any real change.
The admiral met with Trump in New York City last week.
The California congressman also asked for their input on his bill to his bill that would end the practice of “dual-hatting” NSA with the Cyber Command, which is the agency set up to attack and defend on the Internet’s battlefields.