(Photo: AP)

National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander, who also serves as Commander of the United States Cyber Command, is expected to depart by next March or April, according to a Reuters news report.

The director of the U.S. National Security Agency and his deputy are expected to depart in the coming months, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, in a development that could give President Barack Obama a chance to reshape the eavesdropping agency.

Army General Keith Alexander’s eight-year tenure was rocked this year by revelations contained in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s widespread scooping up of telephone, email and social-media data.

Alexander has formalized plans to leave by next March or April, while his civilian deputy, John “Chris” Inglis, is due to retire by year’s end, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A spokeswoman for the NSA told Reuters in an email that the departure had already been planned, saying, “This has nothing to do with media leaks, the decision for his retirement was made prior; an agreement was made with the (Secretary of Defense) and the Chairman for one more year – to March 2014.”

Inglis, the agency’s second-ranking official, had also already planned to retire.

Vice Admiral Michael Rogers has been mentioned as a potential successor to Alexander, according to officials who spoke with Reuters.  Currently the commander of the US Navy’s 10th Fleet and US Fleet Cyber Command, Rogers previously served as director of intelligence for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Pacific Command.  A final decision on that selection has not yet been made and other candidates may be considered, according to officials.

A West Point graduate and decorated Army intelligence officer with years of intelligence experience, Alexander has been the longest running director in the NSA’s history.  But some have also been critical of the NSA director.

Alexander has defended the NSA’s surveillance programs as necessary to thwart potential terrorist attacks, while some lawmakers have sought to implement restrictions aimed at protecting Americans’ privacy.


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