Gen. Keith Alexander will step down from his post as director of the National Security Agency next spring, an agency spokeswoman confirmed.
Alexander was named NSA director in 2005 and later took on a dual-hatted position as chief of U.S. Cyber Command in 2010. “The process for selecting his successor is ongoing,” NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said in an email.
Vines said Alexander’s retirement “has nothing to do with media leaks,” referring to damaging leaks by former government contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s secret spying program and overreaching data collection practices. In recent months, Alexander has been doing major damage control and multiple speaking engagements, where he has defended the agency’s mission and character of its employees.
“He’s served well beyond a normal rotation, having been extended three times since he became NSA’s director in 2005,” Vines said, adding that “an agreement was made with the [secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs] for one more year — to March 2014.”
Reuters first reported the news of Alexander’s pending retirement as well as plans for NSA deputy director Chris Inglis to retire by year’s end. Vines could not confirm whether Inglis is leaving but said Alexander told the news outlet in May he planned to retire in the first half of 2014.
Unnamed officials told Reuters that Vice Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Navy’s 10th Fleet and U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, is a likely candidate to replace Alexander.
Speaking at a Washington event last week, Alexander said the facts about NSA’s operations have been greatly sensationalized and inflamed. He said Snowden has damaged the public’s and allies’ trust of NSA.
“That’s where government and industry have to help together,” he said.