Rogers Takes Over as NSA Director

Pledges to Engage in Dialogue with American Citizens
Rogers Takes Over as NSA Director
NSA Director Michael Rogers

The new director of the National Security Agency, Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, says he accepts the challenge of regaining the trust of some Americans "who don't believe in us."

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At his swearing in ceremony April 3 as NSA director and commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, Rogers promised to "engage in a dialogue with the citizens of our nation about what we do and why we do it," according to the American Forces Press Service, the Defense Department's news service.

The NSA has come under a lot of criticism for secretly collecting metadata of the communications of American citizens, tapping the mobile phones of allied leaders, meddling with cryptography algorithms and other e-spying activities.

"We live in a world of great risk," Rogers said. "There are individuals, groups out there who, if they had their way, we would no longer exist as a nation. The very values and ideals that we represent are offensive to them and stand against everything they believe in. We need to be mindful of that, and we can't forget."

Rogers said there will be strict adherence to law and policy in the cyberworld. "There are no shortcuts here, teammates," he said. "The nation places its trust in us. It has given us great resources and it counts on us to do the right thing, the right way to defend them."

Americans 'Want to Trust Us'

Americans don't know the specifics of what the NSA and Cyber Command do, Rogers said, "but they want to trust us. If we make mistakes we will stand up and hold ourselves accountable and responsible."

At his March 11 Senate confirmation hearing, Rogers differentiated between exposing how NSA spying methods function - they mostly should remain secret - and explaining why the NSA takes certain approaches to information collection. "One of my challenges is I have to be able to speak in broad terms in a way that most people can understand," he said. "And I look forward to that challenge."

Rogers, at that hearing, declined to characterize NSA leaker Edward Snowden as a traitor (see Rogers Declines to Call Snowden a Traitor). "I don't know I would use the word traitor, but I certainly do not consider him to be a hero." Still, Rogers said he agreed with assessments by several senators that Snowden's leaks caused significant damage to national security (see NSA Moves to Prevent Snowden-Like Leaks).

The Senate confirmed Rogers on March 31. He replaces Army Gen. Keith Alexander, who retired. As NSA director and cyber commander, Rogers earned a fourth star. He had been a vice admiral, heading the Navy's cyber command.

The admiral, according to the Armed Forces Press Service report, pointed out that he had been associated with cyber warriors for his entire naval career, and said he has known for a long time that he was being groomed for the jobs he assumed on April 3. "I'm aware of what the department has invested in me," he said, adding that led him to want the job.

"Now it's payback time," Rogers said he told his wife Dana. "What kind of leader, what kind of teammate would I be if I turned my back? I don't pretend for a minute that I'm the only person who could do this job. But this is the time for payback, I am not going to owe them."

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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