NSA directorship to go civilian, report asserts

The NSA directorship might revert from a military to a civilian post, The Hill has reported. The Pentagon "has already drawn up a list of possible civilian candidates for the next NSA director," the report said, although "no formal decision has been made yet." The NSA directorship would relinquish authority over Cyber Command, and a separate military officer would be appointed to Cyber Command. If the report is correct, the change would represent a planet-shaking change at the NSA, which since 1971 by law has been directed by military officers.

The report dropped the word "civilian" almost casually. The assertion calls for verification, which we do hereby call for now. But even if that part of the story is incorrect, the removal of NSA director authority over Cyber Command is big enough news unto itself. Cyber Command controls much of the data spying we've been reporting on. The change would represent a separation of powers which, if enacted, would please privacy advocates around the world who have been publicly calling for the NSA to stop conducting mass data surveillance on private citizens on the Web.

NSA director Keith Alexander will step down next year, relinquishing his dual command over the US spy agency and Cyber Command, Alexander said. He and the military insist that his departure is in no way, shape, or form a sacrificial lamb in response to the ongoing firehose of revelations concerning the NSA's pervasive and nearly unchecked civilian spying activities. This SlashGear writer has his doubts about that coy claim.

On the same day, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt formally and publicly rebuked the NSA for tapping its data center connection cables around the world. But the NSA isn't the only spy group under fire by the public. Last week, the Snowden papers–an unprecedented treasure trove of whistleblower document booty–showed that England, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, and others routinely conduct NSA-style spying by compelling telecommunications giants to help them gather data on a mass scale.

SOURCE: The Hill